You probably know what hard skills are. Hard skills are skills that can be learned easily and are typically strongly related to a particular field. Things like firefighting, playing instruments, and building software are hard skills. In fact, I am using hard skills now. Grammar, spelling, and typing are all hard skills that can be learned. Skills that are difficult to learn and are important across disciplines are typically soft skills. In writing this blog, I am using soft skills like communication and presentation.
When I asked a seven-year-old what I should write about soft skills, he said, “I have soft skills in doing a cartwheel.” I gently reminded him by saying, “THAT’S NOT A SOFT SKILL!!!” He said, “Is learning how to say, ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ a soft skill.” Instead of giving a reply, I just silently wrote down our entire conversation while he read it over my shoulder. Now that we have heard from a seven-year-old, let’s check with the experts.
An article from The Balance Careers listed some of the top soft skills employers are looking for. I went through the list with the 7-year-old and he told me his top 4 soft skills are: Storytelling, Creativity, Energy, and Playing Wii Resort.
I checked another article from Skills You Need and saw three that I excel at. Time management, self-motivation, and problem-solving skills. My skills usually result in me wanting to work hard quickly so that I can finish early. This didn’t help me when I was working on my UNIV 401 project.
Through that experience, I learned what happens when people with different soft skills work together. In UNIV 401, I finished all of my work early, but couldn’t relax because my group members hadn’t. My roommate Joey likes to wait until the last minute and then work for 12 hours straight. I tried staying up to help him, but couldn’t do any of the work (since I didn’t have the necessary hard skills). I ended up going to bed and having repeated nightmares in which I didn’t finish my 401 projects.
When I asked the seven-year-old what he thought about people with different soft skills working together, he said, “My socks have tiny holes in them, and I don’t like wearing them. I don’t like wearing them, but I have to wear them, or else I will get blisters.” I told the seven-year-old we need to talk about soft-skills, not SOCK-skills. He laughed out loud, then proceeded to tell me all the movies they own.
When I asked the seven-year-olds, 24-year-old almost uncle who lives with them, he said he didn’t know what soft skills are. After I explained and gave him some examples, he said, “I guess I am good at teamwork and some forms of communication.” He also said, “I think I am getting worse at soft skills like I am not using all of my skills in my career.” This confused me. Most people believe soft skills are something you are born with, they are a part of you. It makes sense that they could be lost. Circumstances change, and people change. If I worked in a job I hated, my soft-skill of self-motivation would probably start to falter. If I stopped speaking in public as often, my soft skills of communication would likely start to wane.
I looked around me at the seven-year-old saying “your hands are like cougars, pouncing at all the words. Go Cameron, type faster! I don’t want you to graduate.” Listening to him cheer me on, made me realize that sometimes when it feels like I am not using my soft skills (like in this moment). I still am! I am learning new ones. I am practicing patience as he reads my Star Wars shirt and tries to “count all of my hairs”. I can learn how to motivate others when I tell him he can play a game on my computer when I am done. But most importantly, I learned that the softest skill of all…is love.