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Soft Skills Training for Managers and Leaders

Soft skills training for managers and leaders

Soft skills training is a whole range of specific communication skills one must have if you wish to operate well in an organisation made up of many different personalities.
Soft skills training is contrasted to "hard skills" which are more technical in nature and may be required by law. Example of hard skills training: lifting and handling training

The range of specific skills that fall into the category of "soft skills" include:

  1. Assertiveness
  2. Handling difficult people
  3. Listening skills
  4. Negotiation skills
  5. Managing stress
  6. Emotional management

Briefly; let's look closer at each one.

1. Assertiveness

Assertiveness is a form of communication which marks out the happy middle-ground between two undesirable extremes. One on either side. Aggressive/ assertive/ and passive.

We want to be assertive but NOT aggressive.
We want to be assertive but not passive.

Aggressive is too pushy; Passive is not pushy enough.

Assertive is just right!

Assertiveness is the ability to state:

  1. Exactly what you want
  2. Why you want it
  3. With good voice tones
  4. With good body language

This is not always easy.

You may need training on this aspect of soft skills.

2. Handling difficult people

Handling difficult people means treating people according to the principles of reason.

As opposed to either:

  1. Getting angry with the difficult person
  2. Getting upset by the difficult person
  3. Running away from the difficult person

Treating people "according to the principles of reason" means treating the person and the issue at stake:

  1. Factually
  2. Objectively
  3. In a timely manner
  4. According to the organisational policy

This is not always easy.

You may need training on this aspect of soft skills.

3. Listening skills

Listening skills is a rare art that involves the following sub-set skills:

  1. Focus your mind on the others message
  2. Try to find their conclusions i.e. what they think is true
  3. Try to find their reasons for their conclusions i.e. Why they think it is true
  4. Try to discover how they feel about their conclusions and reasons. Are they happy or not?

Here is a great rule for all those who wish to be a better listener:

Don't guess!
If in doubt -- ask a question.

You may need training on this aspect of soft skills.

4. Negotiation skills

What is negotiation?

Negotiation is a transaction over which both parties have a veto over the final outcome. It requires voluntary consent on both sides. It is a process by which both parties can arrive at a mutually beneficial solution.

  1. Negotiation is not "giving in".
  2. Negotiation is not "digging in".

a. Be clear what you want

Write it down.
Know too, what you do not want.

b. In negotiations, say "no" to their first proposal

Saying yes first time may leave you open to Lose / Win solution.

c. Once agreed, stick to the agreement

If the other person wants to change the package, the terms must change too.
Use the magic phrase, "Only if you,... then I will...."

d. Ensure you have a list of your negotiable variables

Avoid trying to "drive a hard bargain" by unnecessarily tough talk.
It may be seen as intransigence by the other side.
Take a tough position but keep your style professional and relaxed.
"Tough talk" in the sense of needless aggressiveness is bad business.

5. Managing stress

What is stress?

Stress is: A mental and physiological reaction to the work and environmental pressures and the mental meanings given to them.

Learn about the General Adaptation Syndrome

Hans Selye was the first person to study stress physiology. He was the first to identify this principle, which is true for everyone:
"You can work hard, or you can work long. But nobody can work flat-out for long periods without paying a painful price".

If the intensity of the stressor is high, then the duration and / or frequency of the stressors must decrease.
If the intensity is low then the duration and frequency may increase accordingly.

Anyone who frequently exposes themselves to high intensity stress, for extended periods, eventually meets the inevitable consequence: Burnout and loss of productivity.

All managers therefore, should learn to balance the intensity, duration and frequency of work stress, such that the team remains permanently in the adaptation phase: Leading to an increase in productivity.

Are you suffering with G.A.S.?

Don't guess!
If in doubt -- You may need training on this aspect of soft skills.

6. Emotional management

What is emotional management

Emotional Management is the art of controlling the focus of your mind and the physical state of your body, so as to create optimum emotional responses appropriate to the circumstances that face you.

How can you create feelings of enthusiasm, strength, and self-confidence?

Answer:
Learn emotional management techniques

These techniques include:

Take control of the focus of your conversation:

  1. Don't allow fears to dominate your mind (thoughts of a bad future)
  2. Don't let anger dominate your mind (thoughts of a bad past event)
  3. Focus your mind onto the solutions, not the causes of your problems

Question: What are the negative consequences of FAILING TO manage your emotional state?

If you don't take control of your emotions they will cause to:

  1. Say the wrong things
  2. Eat / drink the wrong things
  3. Make bad decisions
  4. Avoid doing the right things

You have heard the advice "always follow your feelings"
This is not good advice!

Here is better advice: "Follow your -mind not your mood"

"Your mind should take precedence over your mood!"
"Your brain should take precedence over gut!"

Mind over mood!

Therefore: If you think you should-- then you must -- even if you don't want to!
If you think you should send her an apology-- then you must - even if you don't want to!
If you think you should not ---then you must not ---even if you really want to
If you think you should not eat the cake ---then you must NOT eat the cake ---even if you really want to

Mind over mood is the best way forward.

Why?

Because many of your desires and fears are "primitive instincts" and therefore are not a reliable guides to intelligent action.

For best results
Use your neo-cortex not your cave instincts

Aristotle, the founder of logic said it like this:

  • "Anyone can become angry - that is easy,
  • but to be angry with the right person
  • at the right time,
  • and for the right purpose
  • and in the right way -
  • That is not within everyone's power
  • and that is not easy."

You may need training on this aspect of soft skills.

For more information about soft skills training course visit the Corporate Coach Group website

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