Soft skills: what are we talking about?


A short post about so called soft skills. People call “soft skill” what they want.

I read around the strangest, usually subjective, definitions, in articles and forums. They are related to something regarding relations and communication or politically correct ability to interconnect. Let’s call things with their name.

Everything that is not technicalities could be that. But I wonder how someone who is in charge of any responsibilities or management or business authority, could be only “hard” skilled. Education and holistic approach are necessary as soon as you are outside a single minded approach to hyper operative roles. This need is proportional to responsibilities as well.

Many people think that business means selling and working means to adapt to the herd or the pack, and leadership means to be without “authorithy” (horror!) but a point of “inspiration”. This is because of lack of education and of social brainwashing.

To be a gentleman and to know what we are talking about is a rare quality today, some may say, but this is the core meaning of “soft skills”.

13 Comments on “Soft skills: what are we talking about?”

  1. David Navarro says:

    Most of the “new age” leaders use to forget that they are dealing with humans, the most complicated psyche known to day. Some use leadership techniques like a drunken mentally defective using a machine gun, causing harm to their leaded people, sometimes, permanently and irreparably. A gentleman is someone who is gentle. Obvious. Why do we forget that a single sentence or even a grimace can influence so deeply another human being? How to do it for the “good”? No influence can be positive and permanent without having the same inception. To be gentle has its origin in something which can make grin most of the “big boys” in leadership. The biggest leaders in humankind knew it. It’s name is love.


    • Thanks David. And “gentle” has an historical and ethymological meaning that is someway different with respect to modern “kind”. A gentleman exercises authorithy and he is ready to fight as well, given he is well grown, educated, skilled, in charge of values, competences and responsibilities and able to respect other people. Let’s leave “love” to hippies. If a single sentence, appropriately delivered, corrects something wrong, sorry for the receiver: He has to decide what stuff he is made of. A fool will hate you, a wise man will thank you, so what? Love is confrontation as well, more than looking to please. You see the quality af a person when he/she responds to appropriate confrontations.


  2. David Navarro says:

    when you love yourself, what you do, the humankind, it is inevitable you are being led. To love makes you bigger. To hate makes you smaller. Love has many aspects, the hippies only touched the surface, and got lost in sex and drugs most of them. English is too limited to express things that matter. Greek had different words for it, philia, eros etc. To be a gentleman has to do with feeling good and big, so you are pleased when making others feel the same. Making others feel better, expands your mind and the others’ too. You can copy leaders techniques. To become a leader it happens without you noticing it.


    • [By K.K.Bhatia via LinkedIn] K.K. Bhatia – Ugo! David! I will share my experiences in the Hospitality Industry. Any staff member who is likely to be on a face to face contact with the Guests must be trained in ” soft skills”.Soft skills in this context is greeting the Guests on arrival, offering welcome drink with smiles and always politely interacting and making suggestions in a nice pleasant way to make the Guests feel welcome. A hotel/Resort is not a supermarket where a customer picks up a item from a shelf and pays at the check outer counter and he leaves, In the Hotels /Resorts Guests stay at least for a night .Hence the soft skills become very essential for getting repeat business if the Guest Experience has been pleasant.


    • Seriously, that’s true, K.K. You explain very well that “soft skills” are **professionalism** as it had to be called before some fashion management buzzwords were introduced. My compliments. The point is, there can’t be a consulting marketplace niche for selling how “to be an adult, polite, adequately confrontational, responsible and competent professional” (it would be called “offensive”), while there is a larger space around soft skills courses that change nothing most of the times. “Soft skills” are learnt in families especially, in good tutoring at work and in specialist coaching, or they are not, in theoretical approaches.


    • [K.K.Bhatia via LinkedIn] K.K. Bhatia – Ugo! U have said it all


  3. David Navarro says:

    @K.K.Bathia. I have been at a front desk of a hotel while student, so I know what you mean. If you are honest by welcoming the guests, day goes away in a minute, pleasantly. But I have seen colleagues who only used kindness to get good tips or because there were told to do so. They were exhausted at the end of the shift. I was proud to welcome guests to my wonderful country, and to a nice hotel, so it was easy, and they felt it was a genuine welcome. This happens when a so called leader goes to a “cheap” training. He/she can learn “cheap” techniques, but if you are empty inside, if you do not understand it has to be like that, and believe it, it sounds empty. 1Corinthians 13:1,2 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
    again ,in the Bible you find, “You snakes—how can you say good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of”
    I fully agree with Ugo that these things, if not learned from the childhood, or through an intensive inside training, they do not grow from one day to another. You have always the seed in your heart, but when you become adult, you sometimes forget, the roots become weak. In the world we live on, it is necessary to come back to the fundamentals. One way or another. when dealing with humans, when leading a bunch of people, if you do not reinforce the basics, so you get the “good” going from inside to outside, it will sound empty, and thus, unsuccessful.


  4. Ugo Micoli says:

    [By Rob McNaughton via LinkedIn] Rob McNaughton – Ugo … being a gentleman is the main part of what I understand to be ‘soft skills’ – I would go further and say this is people ‘management’ – accepting people for who they are, valuing and accepting their inputs (helpful or not). Down to definitions I know …


  5. kkbhatia says:

    David!I agree with your central theme of your comments. To be a ” good ” person one has to be a genuinely good person. It is a fact that we can only share what is within us. If we are filled with love and joy we will spread love and joy around. A sweet perfumed flower is a good analogy. The flower will always spread its sweet perfume. i will share some insights related to Hospitality Industry. It is a very intense people and service oriented industry..It is my experience and belief that culture plays a big part in the way the service is delivered. Thailand has the best delivery of Hospitality Services as Thais are very kind people and they give very great importance to delivery of service to the Guests. Indian culture also pays great importance to Guests.In fact since childhood sees guests dropping in and a Guest is put on a pedestal as high as God.It is believed that ATHITHI ( GUEST) is like God and hence need to be given hearty welcome and serve him like a family member. In our Resort which is located in a very small town about 160 kms from Mumbai the staff is all local recruited. In small towns and villages of India the ” soft skills” like welcoming the guests in the home whether with announcement or without announcement is very routine. Our staff has grown up with the basic skills of being ” good ” to the Guests. This is without expectation of Tips etc. There is one incident which i would like to share. A European Lady was our Guest. She was staying with us as she had come to drop her dogs at a Dog shelter we run. The Dog Shelter is about 5 kms from the Resort. Around mid night our Reception got a call that one of her dogs had gotten very sick. The reception Guys organized a Taxi by waking up a Taxi owner in town and accompanied this lady to the farm. This is happening at the middle of night and the road is deserted and with no street lamps etc. They went to the farm and the lady ckd her dog and now she wanted some medicines to be given to the Dog. The Reception Guy then took her to a Medical Store owners house. They woke up the guy and explained the situation. The Owner cam and opened his store and gave the medicines. They again went to the farm and gave the medicines to the dog. This went in till 5 am. Our Reception guy was with her all this time. No Hospitality training school trains staff to do this.Even Internal training does not train staff to deal with such extraordinary situations. This may be a one off thing but it was only possible because our
    guy went above and beyond the call of duty and was considering this as a human issue and even the Taxi Driver and the Medical Store didnt feel disturbed etc. To help someone in need
    is basic in the culture which is very much alive in small towns and villages. Our Metro cities have lost these basic skills and one has to train staff for ‘ soft skills


    • David Navarro says:

      @KKBhatia. As you are pointing, cultural background is very important. I come from Barcelona, and we have an interesting mixture of cultures through history here, fenicians, romans, you name it. Religious background is important too. In your case, you believe in karma and reencarnation, so is understandable not only so much interest in helping a guest, but as well her dog. Even if we here are very guest oriented, it would be very unlikely that someone would make such an effort for a dog. The most it would happen in Spain, is that somebody would take care of it the next morning. For us, family is the most important thing, the only it matters. Considering the occidental background of the European lady, a Spaniard would think that she had emotional needs overturning mistakenly in an animal instead of on her family. My view of it is that she should have not allowed people leaving their families alone in the middle of the night to take care of a mistreated dog, which should be at home taking care of its territory, like the dogs do. Dogs are not intended to go in vacation. They can become ill due to it. Who’s benefit to go with a dog on vacation? Not the dog, for sure.
      In this case, the one who was in a terrible need was not the dog, was the lady who needed the companionship of an animal. It tells me that low-level-trained people on soft skills like the lady, was misusing and abusing your people only to satisfy her selfish needs.
      Which leads me to the next point.

      How to find the balance between being gentle, and avoiding inconsiderate people take abusing advantage of it?


  6. Ugo Micoli says:

    K.K.Bathia sent a very *long* and detailed reply to David about that case, but I choose to suggest them to continue this interesting conversation privately, otherwise we risk to be off-topic somehow.
    Here is K.K.’s LinkedIn reference, David:
    Thank you for your very welcome contribution.


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