Why Snap Soft Skill Courses Are Useless

Soft skills are always difficult to learn, especially in a snap attempt.  Each one of us have our own way of practicing these skills based on our natural (and sometimes acquired) style and personality types. You can’t talk like anyone else unless you consciously copy someone’s style and practice it but it may lead to  loss of your own style or a slow merging of your native and acquired style creating a new style altogether. It’s the same with thinking. Thoughts form in different ways in each one of us depending on how we perceive things – which involves both structure (how you place one slab of comprehension upon another to arrive at a whole) and depth. These are the building blocks of soft skills.  This is what makes all soft skill courses useless.

And the funny thing is people who conduct them know it. That’s why, if you notice, all soft skill courses are mostly fluff. It’s only stuff flicked from Google peppered with stories and anecdotes.  Some of them even use these courses as platforms to crib about their former colleagues and hear favorable reaction from an obliging audience. And they call it interaction.  I had attended a workshop on presentation skills and the trainer, a lady, was mostly talking about her former colleagues she didn’t like. I attended a workshop on creative troubleshooting and it was mostly generic talk on how to be out of box together with standard industry models of problem solving. Doesn’t discussing standard models defeat the purpose of a workshop which insists you to be anything but?

Then, why do companies spend money on arranging for these two-hour or one-day soft skill workshops and why we attend them? Because we cherish our technical skills and believe learning smattering of soft skills will help us further our career – be creative, good communicators and so on. The problem is soft skills are more intricate than technical skills. Technical skills are easy to acquire because they involve clearly defined instructions but soft skills don’t.

Sustained exposure to soft skill professionals where they are embedded in an environment (a close-ended one like a team) or a broader one like an organization and they closely observe people in action and discuss their findings with them later and then again observe as the latter apply them, will help. But the resource and logistics it will need may make it difficult to implement. That’s where you need creative problem solving.