‘IF I WENT TO COLLEGE AGAIN, I’D CONCENTRATE ON TWO AREAS: LEARNING TO WRITE AND TO SPEAK BEFORE AN AUDIENCE. NOTHING IN LIFE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY.’
Gerald R Ford
The second cluster of Forever Skills is formed around what we’re broadly referring to as ‘communication skills’. These include such capabilities as influence, engagement, sales, presentation, leadership and other abilities that are often described as the ‘soft skills’.
The term ‘soft skills’ is an unhelpful hangover from the ‘hard skills’ biases of previous industrial revolutions. Essentially, ‘hard skills’ meant working with machines whereas ‘soft’ meant ‘not machine-related’. In retrospect, calling them ‘soft’ can appear to undervalue their importance relative to the ‘hard’ or technical ones. They are not, however, less crucial, easier to attain or less impactful.
Quite the opposite.
The ability to understand human drivers and communicate powerfully has altered history. Words well chosen and well spoken have rallied communities, elevated leaders, built empires and shifted beliefs. Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr had ‘a few thoughts that might be kind of handy’, John F Kennedy had thought ‘it might be fun if we looked into the possibility of going to the moon sometime sooner or later because we just might be able to do it’, or Nike had told us to ‘Make our best attempt’. A capacity to understand human motivation and apply this ...