Soft Skills for Hard Times


In these uncertain and tumultuous times, students' lives have been all but turned upside down. Students have had to deal with some major shifts in their learning and work environments as everything is transitioned to home environments. Some of these changes include, online classes, virtual meetings, and online networking. While it may be easy for many to just view this time as a break to lay low and detach, it’s actually extremely important to remain connected and continue fostering relationships where possible. During this time, it is even more important than ever to master soft skills such as empathy, 360 degree thinking, and adaptability. 


In this time of crisis, it is so crucial to exhibit empathy in all of its forms. Being empathetic towards those who have been strongly impacted by COVID-19 and seeking to understand what others may be going through can help you strengthen relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. Due to this health crisis, people’s needs may have shifted or been altered and being able to read and comprehend these changes can make a world of a difference. For students, this means being empathetic of fellow co-workers and classmates as not everyone may have the resources to connect to the internet or access to the technology they need. Times like these can really highlight the inequalities which exist in our society, as this article from Forbes points out. 


In order to alleviate some of these disparities and challenges, it can be extremely beneficial to practice 360-degree thinking. As things are quickly changing and industries are disrupted, it is essential to be able to problem solve effectively. Looking at issues from a 360-degree lens and analyzing all possible solutions from different perspectives can help to find a long-lasting and successful solution for the biggest problems we face. For example, many school districts have come up with creative ways to help their students and communities by offering grab-and-go meal centers, partnering with public television to make lessons easily accessible in multiple languages, and providing free Wi-Fi hotspots to families.


In order to adjust to all of the changes in our lives, adaptability is a must. Adapting to new routines, technologies, and ways of life is the only way forward through these difficult times. Being able to adapt in times of uncertainty illustrates leadership as this article from the University of Hawaii on the importance of soft skills mentions. Adapting to new forms of communication such as Zoom have been imperative for students during these past few weeks as they navigate online learning. Other ways in which students have to adapt include online networking through sites such as LinkedIn and learning how to best present themselves in virtual interviews. 


Despite the many obstacles students are facing right now, young adults are stepping up to the challenge by finding new ways to be innovative and stay connected. Those who are employing soft skills such as empathy, 360-degree thinking and adaptability are making a difference and finding solutions to our most pressing issues during this new era of COVID-19.