Soft Skills: What are they, their importance and how to improve them

While no one can be completely prepared for what they may face in life, there are skills that make the journey easier or more satisfying. This set of skills has many names. Some call them practical wisdom. Some others speak about social skills. In professional circles, they are called soft skills or life skills. But…

What are soft skills?

Many of the definitions of soft skills that you can find on the internet are not very precise or satisfying, trying to define soft skills using some of the skills as an example, or refering to their use –while their use is very broad, cause they can be applied in many moments in life.

Our definition of Soft Skills tries to avoid that and tries to be accurate and scientific:

Group Picture Book Sailing Experience Day Trip Spain Atyla Ship

Looking at the list of skills that are normally listed as soft skills, the most accurate definition is: Soft skills are skills that cannot be learned theoretically but have to be experienced and practised in order to be improved.

Hard skills (like maths, or woodwork) can be taught in a course. But you cannot really learn soft skills in a class, they need to be trained in an experience.

Soft skills don’t depend on your knowledge, but on your attitude, your mindset and your life experience.

Very often, soft skills are trained in group exercises, and many soft skills have an important interpersonal aspect, that’s why they are also referred to as social skills, but this concept seems incomplete because it ignores some skills, and parts of other skills, that are not interpersonal but intrapersonal.

Why are soft skills important?

Soft skills are difficult to measure, yet are essential for living a good life. Soft skills include a mix of social skills, interpersonal communication, know-how, and character traits that help one in their private, social and professional lives.

The importance of soft skills is that they are useful in a huge range of situations. From making friends to getting and maintaining a job, from the health of your love life to the implication of people around you in your hobbies. In most situations in life, there are one or more soft skill that becomes useful.

People from all walks of life value soft skills (even before they know or understand the term) because they are signifiers of well-rounded and virtuous people. See a list of the most important soft skills and their definition on this page.

How can I improve my soft skills?

If soft skills are difficult to measure and hard to develop relative to hard skills, how does one acquire them? One of the best ways to develop soft skills is to meet and overcome challenges. Challenges ask more of us and require that we grow and learn in order to accomplish them. Further, challenges often place us in contact with other people, especially in any explicitly competitive or cooperative environment.

Another way is to find a context to step out of our comfort zone. This helps us enter the learning zone, and getting used to it, which in turn expands our comfort zone.

At Atyla ship Foundation, we manage these two things with our adventure sailing trips:

What’s a good way to challenge yourself?

The Atyla ship Foundation invites you to live an unforgettable experience together with other adventurers.

You will embark on a historic sailing ship as crew, which will require you to fulfil a number of responsibilities, collaborate with other people and use your soft skills to successfully reach your destination. While our crew is there to ensure your safety, you will see the need to collaborate, communicate and deal with challenging situations.

Our approach is unconventional, but it’s a proven way to develop essential life skills. Read more here.

What is Atyla Foundation?
Discover the charity that promotes soft skills
How can I contribute to this mission?
Make a donation to our Fund for Equal Opportunities