August 2018
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TD Magazine

Weighing In (August 2018)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Is there a better name for the term soft skills?

"I've always felt that soft makes these skills sound mushy and wimpy. Maybe interpersonal is a more precise term. But I also like core, and here's an analogy why: The core muscles in the body are essential to effective posture, movement, and even the health of internal organs. It's just like how core interpersonal skills are essential for functioning effectively in organizational life."
—Peter Gordon, Portland, Maine


"Situational leadership refers to these as human skills as opposed to technical and strategic skills. I also link these to emotional intelligence."
—Andrea Ridgely, Los Angeles

"I teach soft skills in the military, and we call it resilience training, life skills, and EQ."
—Sean Douglas, Goldsboro, North Carolina

"I remember [author and leadership development consultant] Susan Scott referring to them as strategic skills, and that always stuck with me. Your strategy is your big-picture approach to how you will achieve an outcome, and you choose your tactics based on your strategy. Using these skills is a powerful strategy for achieving your goals and showing up in a way you feel proud of."
—Jen Hermann, Portland, Oregon

"I'm fascinated by the fact that these skills are referred to as soft and they are some of the hardest to attain. I refer to them as professional relationship building skills, even if it's a mouthful."
—Jennifer Landau, Columbus, Ohio

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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