Interpersonal people skills which are also referred to as social-emotional skills such as communication and listening, leadership, coping/problem solving, teamwork, and empathy among others are what are referred to as soft skills.
In our score-obsessed, overly standardized-tested educational system, soft skills have been squeezed out by “core subjects” and degraded like they are fluffy little extras like a bows on a package. In home economics, I learned to sew on a button, budget for food for a week, write a check, buy a car, and rent a place to live. In shop, I learned to work with a team, how to plan ahead and outline the steps to a finished project. Are these not skills essential to living?
Just calling these soft skills demotes the importance of these proficiencies and I think one of the reasons we are seeing an increase in addiction and suicide is because our kids don’t have the problem solving skills needed to manage life. Drugs and alcohol have become so normalized as coping mechanisms in our culture, kids are using these substances instead.
It’s time we changed the name of soft skills to essential skills because these are strengths people need to manage life and relationships.