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Jan 6 2010   4:44PM GMT

From the virtual mailbag: Should “soft skills” be called “people skills?”

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

We had a note from Kate Nasser responding to our definition of soft skills:

a)Bravo for having this message out there b)Love your analogy that soft skills are skills you use everywhere yet hard skills tend to be focused on one area/task c)SUGGESTION – you might considering an “also known as” “Soft skills also known as people-skills are mechanism for living and succeeding.”

Over time if we can change the common name from soft skills to people-skills — people will see these skills as inherent to daily living. “Soft” will always have a comparative meaning and some will therefore see these skills as less important than hard skills. Also soft can be a tough word for certain personality types (e.g. Drivers) and (some) men to accept.

Clearly, there’s a case to be made for using “people skills” rather than “soft skills” — at least for the interpersonal ones, like friendliness. What about intrapersonal skills though — optimism, for example, helps you get along with people, but indirectly. Is optimism a people skill? What do you think?

Kate Nasser is a people skills coach. You can follow her on Twitter.

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