Why We Should Use “Human Skills” Instead of “Soft Skills”
In the world of Human Resources, and recruitment specifically, there has long been a distinction between “hard skills” and “soft skills.” Hard skills are those that are technical or job-specific, such as coding or accounting. Soft skills, on the other hand, are those that are less tangible or quantifiable, such as communication, teamwork, and emotional intelligence. However, there is growing recognition that the term “soft skills” is problematic, as it can undervalue the importance of these abilities and create a false dichotomy between technical and interpersonal skills.
The Problem with “Soft Skills”
The term “soft skills” is problematic because it implies that these skills are somehow less important or valuable than “hard” or technical skills. The phrase “soft skills” suggests that these abilities are not quantifiable, measurable, or technical, and that they are not as essential to success in the workplace. This framing can create a false dichotomy between technical skills and interpersonal skills, leading some to believe that technical skills are more valuable than human skills.
The Solution: “Human Skills”
In contrast the phrase “human skills” puts the focus back on people, the human in human resources, and the essential role that interpersonal skills play in professional and personal success. This framing acknowledges that these skills are an essential part of what it means to be human and that they are essential for effective communication, collaboration, and teamwork. “Human skills” also conveys a more empathetic perspective, which can help to foster a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture.
By using the term “human skills,” we emphasize the importance of skills such as communication, emotional intelligence, leadership, and teamwork, which are essential for building relationships, inspiring trust, and fostering collaboration. This framing also acknowledges that technical skills alone are not sufficient for success in today’s complex and dynamic workplace, and that it is the combination of technical skills and human skills that are critical for success in any role.
The Words We Use Make a Difference
Using the term “human skills” instead of “soft skills” has several advantages:
- “Human skills” highlights the fundamental and essential nature of these skills in human interaction and collaboration.
- The term “soft skills” can be misleading and undervalue the importance of these abilities.
- “Human skills” encompasses a broader range of abilities beyond traditional soft skills.
- The term “soft skills” dehumanizes the conversation, while “human skills” puts the person’s humanity forefront.
- Using “human skills” promotes inclusivity and acknowledges that everyone possesses these skills to varying degrees.
Developing Human Skills
It is also deeply important to recognize that human skills are not innate talents that some people are born with and others are not. Rather, they are skills that can be cultivated and developed over time with practice and effort. By investing in training and development programs that focus on human skills, organizations can create a more engaged and productive workforce.
In the end…
It is essential to have a diverse set of skills to navigate the complex landscape of the modern workplace. While technical skills are important, they alone are not sufficient to ensure success in any job. Interpersonal skills are equally critical for building strong relationships with colleagues, communicating effectively, and fostering a positive workplace culture.
By emphasizing the importance of human skills, we can foster a workplace culture that values collaboration, empathy, and inclusivity. Technical and human skills are both necessary for success in any role, and these skills are complementary rather than in competition with one another. By recognizing the importance of human skills and investing in training and development programs, we can build a more engaged and productive workforce that values the unique contributions of each individual.