Soft Skills vs Hard Skills
Are you team soft skills or team hard skills?
The better question is, why not both?
Why is it that we are taught soft skills vs. hard skills rather than, soft skills and hard skills?
I have a rough idea as to why that is.
My simplified explanation is because soft skills are hard to measure.
The harder something is to measure, the more often it is minimized or blatantly ignored.
Mainly because it is hard to track whether we are improving or not.
The results are intangible.
Hard skills are the opposite.
Technical skills which can be measured & quantified.
The results are tangible.
But here’s the thing.
Even if you are gifted at hard skills, you will be held back if you lack soft skills.
I always say: Focusing on hard skills and ignoring soft skills is like having a great product with shit marketing.
No bueno homie.
In this blog post, I want to help you gain perspective in terms of the BIGGER picture.
Don’t you see?
The two types of skillsets are not enemies, but rather long lost best friends!
Let’s find out why.
What are Hard Skills?
The formal definition of hard skills is:
Teachible abilites or skillsets that are easy to quantify.
As an alumnus of the college of engineering, I can confidently tell you that our curriculum mainly consisted of hard skills.
We learned how to code, build circuits, and debug.
These skills were very easy to quantify as the definition states.
Either your code is working or it isn’t.
Hard skills require a certain level of black and white thinking.
What are Soft Skills?
The formal definition of soft skills are:
Personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively with other people.
These are skills like emotional intelligence, listening skills & ability to work in a team.
Very important skills to harness if you want your message to be comprehended by the public.
However, as you can tell, these skills are very difficult to measure.
They are very difficult to measure because they are subjective.
For example, I may think Billy is a very good listener. However, you may think he is rude & cuts people off too much.
This is an example of how our perceptions dictate who is good or not.
Soft skills require a certain level of gray thinking.
Hard Skills Vs. Soft Skills
By the time I graduated from the college of engineering, let’s just say we were hard skills equipped but heavily lacked soft skills.
That may be one of the reasons why an engineer has built a reputation as being ‘awkward.’
It’s a tough label to shed because many are pretty bad socially!
But note, I said many, not all.
If you look closely in engineering departments, there are always a handful of managers.
The managers were engineers who started off as hard skills dependent.
But as they moved up the ladder into management, they realized they NEEDED to have people skills.
It was no longer an option, but rather, a necessity.
So they learned how to improve their communication skills in order to rise.
The managers who thrive in the engineering department have a solid blend of hard skills AND soft skills.
-Having hard skills alone will have you competent at your job. But you’ll be poor with working in teams & leading.
0Having soft skills alone will have you connecting very well with others. But you will lack substance.
When you treat the 2 skillsets like a competition, that’s when you become a lopsided individual.
Hard skills AND Soft Skills
You were never meant to choose one or the other.
You were meant to incorporate both in order to help yourself level up.
In school, you weren’t taught much about soft skills because it was difficult to measure.
But that doesn’t matter in the real world.
Even if it is difficult to measure, you need to work on the soft skills & let your awareness/self-correction be the teacher.
You become a better evaluator by asking yourself the right questions.
- Ask yourself, whether you are actually listening in conversations, or are you planning the next thing you’re going to say?
- Are you showing compassion or always making things about yourself?
- If you were to lead a team, would you feel confident with the deliverables being complete?
Developing soft skills while you are developing your hard skills allows you to improve faster.
In engineering, there were times we would practice coding alone.
And when a program wouldn’t run, we would spend a long time debugging the code ourselves.
However, when we would collaborate with a few other class members, we’d reach a resolution much quicker.
And through the collaboration, we were able to learn different perspectives from other members which made us better at developing our hard skills.
How To Incorporate the 2 Skillsets
The best way to incorporate the 2 skillsets is to see value in both.
You are going to need hard skills for any job out there. That makes you trained & competent.
Otherwise, any monkey can do your job.
Place importance on the technicalities of your roles.
But as you are building the hard skills, look for opportunities to work on the soft skills as well.
Showcase your expertise via public speaking presentations.
- This allows you to share your technical chops at scale while working on your communication skills.
Mentor someone in learning hard skills.
- You don’t know how much more you have to learn until dealing with beginners’ questions. That’s a good problem to have. By mentoring others, you learn how to listen more effectively& perspective shift.
Create procedures of your hard skills into digestible formats so others can learn from it in the future.
- Creating procedures helps you develop your writing & build further proficiency in the skill.
The more you start to view hard skills and soft skills as friends rather than enemies, the more whole you feel.
Practice to Perfection
In school, I used to have a teacher who would always make me practice.
She said if I wanted to get good at math, then I had to solve a lot of problems.
And that’s how we are taught most of our adult lives in terms of learning hard skills.
By practicing nonstop, we become more valuable to our company, clients and business partners.
Well, I’m here to tell you to keep up that same mindset.
However, just add soft skills into the mix & keep practicing.
Teach, listen & understand.
Your hard skills are incomplete without soft skills and vice versa.
Leverage both & join an exclusive club.
Best of luck.