Now is the perfect time to nurture those all-important softer skills!

If we’re to take some positives from the last 12 months, it’s the fact that, for various reasons, we’ve all had to stop and think about our lives, and how fragile ‘normal’ can be.

It’s been a wake-up call and a time of reflection and a period for re-evaluating what’s important to us. We keep being told that the future will be a ‘new normal’, and we should be prepared for it.

So let’s do just that. Let’s turn the challenges of the last year and make ourselves and our families stronger. As human beings, we all have the ability within us to dial-up the skills that will enable us, and others to be better-equipped to handle whatever life throws at us. It’s the softer qualities that often get ignored, but arguably are the most important skills in life. The earlier these soft skills can be nurtured and developed, the better, for the upcoming generation to be prepared for anything!

Empathy:

There’s been much talk about mental health during the pandemic. Nobody seems to really know how to deal with the emotion of it all, and of course, people deal with the same scenario in vastly different ways. Lives have been lost, jobs have been lost, day-to-day routines have been turned upside down. So we need to be understanding of our fellow-person. Learn to understand how they’re feeling and coping and offer our support however we can. As has been said many times before, we’re all in this together, so showing some empathy benefits everybody.

Social skills:

So, we’ve all learnt the new rules of social distancing, but what about the ‘old’ rules of social etiquette? Politeness, manners, respect and ethics. From instilling a common courtesy of saying thank you, to giving someone a helping hand, to treating elders with respect and treating all people fairly and without prejudice. It all sounds so simple. And it is. It costs nothing to say please and thank you, but at times the good feeling and appreciation it exudes is priceless. Well mannered people earn respect much more quickly than those who demand it.

Leadership:

Natural leaders are hard to find, but that doesn’t mean some of the basic qualities of a good leader can’t be learnt - they can. Of course there are many facets to a good leader, but 3 overarching themes that can be developed are, trust building behaviours, motivation-generating and purpose-instilling.

For trust-building, create an appreciation for collaboration, nurturing good principles and values, and consistency of approach to key tasks. For driving motivation, learn how to show interest in others, be inclusive of other points of view and have the ability to maintain focus on a desired goal.

For instilling purpose, recognise the value of creating a structure for a certain approach. Develop the quality of critical and strategic thinking. And most importantly, have a positive outlook - learn how to reframe negative thinking.

Determination:

During the recent and ongoing pandemic, the world has had to become pretty resolute. Sometimes the unexpected happens and the upcoming generation would be well-placed to have a can-do attitude. A fighting spirit, persistence, tenacity and a resolve to face-up to whatever life dishes out. As the saying goes, God loves a trier.

The earlier these qualities are developed, the easier it becomes to handle the difficult times in life.

Be a team player:

Playing team sports is certainly a natural way to learn the importance of working together to reach positive outcomes. The interaction with others, the building of confidence and the compromise with others to attain success, are all part of being a team player. The learnable skills to enhance the team-player ethic are responsibility, strong communication and the ability to listen to others.

In the words of legendary basketball player, Michael Jordan, “talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships”.