1. Respect the challenges people face. Soft skills are never developed from scratch. People use the behaviors involved instinctively every day. Some of these behaviors work well, and some of them may not. Regardless of their effectiveness, these behaviors are habitual. When we set out to help others develop skills, we are asking people to change their habits— habits they are accustomed to. That type of change is never easy, and coaches must be sensitive to that.
2. Understand that it’s different for everyone. Even if people assess in a similar way and share the same challenges, their path to improvement will be their own. This is because improving these skills—changing behaviors—is about identifying what lies beneath the behavior itself. Does someone avoid conflict because they find it counterproductive or because they are uncomfortable with the emotions involved? Does a leader seem to lack empathy because he or she is a poor listener or because he or she lacks patience? The answers determine how the coach addresses each skill.
3. Work from the inside out. Soft skill development is about helping people make the appropriate decision in the moment. Emotional intelligence focuses on this level of self-awareness. Taking advantage of self-awareness, though, requires specific skills, those skills that help people stay in the moment, connect with other people, and pay attention to their reactions. The successful use of soft skills, then, must begin with helping others think and act appropriately in moments of stress and to focus on others even when it would feel so much easier not to.
4. Pay attention to what improvement feels like. Improvement involves changing instinctive behavior. So, at first, the changes you recommend probably will not feel natural or right to the person you’re coaching. It’s important for leaders to understand that something that feels instinctively natural and right actually might not be getting the intended results. Coaches should respect these feelings and use them to guide the coaching process.
Developing soft skills is not an insurmountable task. But it is a task that takes time, clear focus on the uniqueness of each individual, and perhaps most of all, sensitivity to how difficult and uncomfortable fundamental change can feel. It is worth the effort, though, since soft skills are central to success at every stage of a career, and the farther up a person goes, the more important this becomes.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ 4 Ways to Make Soft Skills Coaching Stick | Training Magazine
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