Become a Soft Skills Guru With These 7 Steps

Jack Ma, the Chairman of Alibaba, Said That Soft Skills are the Future.

Humans cannot process data quicker than machines, so don’t try. Don’t compete. Do what they can’t. Teamwork, influence, lead, and so on. He was talking about the future of AI and how we survive and win by becoming a soft skills guru.

Soft skills written in Scrabble tiles on a blue surface

The challenge is that the last time any of us learned something new. Really learnt it was when we learned to drive. That was the last time we learnt properly. Most people won’t know that the way we learned to drive was based on an old piece of learning science called ‘Spaced repetition’. It basically means do something, stop, go back and do some more. Most people have been ‘sent’ on training courses.

Had a great day, and went home with the best of intentions to review that wonderful binder full of slides, notes, and handouts, very soon. Six months later they were clearing out their desk and reluctantly, and sheepishly and quickly tossed it into the bin. Knowing it was wrong, ‘…but to get stuck into all that again, that’s too much. And anyway I’m very busy’.

So, what’s the answer? Jack’s telling me to learn new soft stuff to survive and those training courses are well intentioned but achieve very little.

Is it books? Maybe. Each self-development book is about 60,000 words. Given an average reading speed of 225 words per minute, a book will take just under 5 hours to read. If we started at 9 am, stopped for an hour for lunch, and a couple of short breaks, we’d finish at 3.30 pm. That’s a large chunk of the day.

So, what is the answer? Well, I can recommend a great training provider! Alternatively, if you want to do it yourself, I recommend teaching others.

Red number seven on a pale blue background

Use these 7 simple steps to improve your behaviour, help others, and become a soft skills guru:

  1. Identify a soft skill that you want to improve, e.g. Let’s say you want to be a better negotiator, and so do your colleagues.
  2. Now identify a problem within that soft skill – What do most people struggle with when they think about negotiating? Preparing for a negotiation. They don’t know how – They use Powerpoint. Very bad.
  3. Find a tool to use. We offer a ‘squaredance’ template (Google it).
  4. Read, watch and listen all about that tool – the squaredance.
  5. Share what you have learnt with your team/colleagues in a 60-minute session and encourage them to ask questions. Don’t use slides – they’re boring. Print the template many times and let them scribble on theirs.
  6. Prepare them that in session two, next week, we’ll fill it out together on an upcoming ‘real negotiation’. And in session two we’ll agree what we do in session 3.
  7. Look back at how much you have learnt. Why? Because no-one wants to look an idiot in front of their peers!

Written by Darren A. Smith for The Grocer.

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