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Soft skills are the hardest to learn

The vital abilities that enable us to communicate, influence, and lead effectively are often misleadingly labelled as "soft skills." In reality, these skills are among the hardest to master! We spoke to Craig Hiles, a coach, facilitator, and expert in leadership skills development, to explain how game-based learning can accelerate the acquisition of these crucial management skills.


What are soft skills?

Soft skills can be categorised into:


  • Personal skills: These include communication, listening and asking questions, being proactive in our responses, problem-solving, and negotiation.

  • Interpersonal skills: These are the skills we use when working in teams such as collaboration, cooperation, developing trust, leading through conflict and demonstrating commitment.


These skills are underpinned by emotional intelligence (EI) and leaders rely on these skills to produce results through their teams, making them indispensable for every manager.


Recognising when soft skills need development

Soft skills often go unnoticed when everything is running smoothly and the effectiveness of a manager can be gauged by their bottom-line results. However, when challenges arise, the presence or absence of soft skills becomes evident. These are the moments that reveal whether ‘soft’ skills are merely superficial or deeply embedded. If managers struggle to bring people together and solve problems during tough times, it indicates a need for development so that they have a reliable mental framework to drive results in every circumstance.


Developing soft skills: an example

As an example, let’s consider the process of giving and receiving feedback. This is a crucial skill that requires a well-practised mental model:


  1. Developing the mental model: Managers need to develop a mental model that they can dial up in the moment: Start by defining your intention (why is the feedback important, and why should the recipient hear it?). Next, the need to be able to deliver feedback in a balanced manner, combining appreciative feedback (acknowledging positive aspects) with constructive feedback (suggesting improvements).

  2. Seize the moment: Many managers recognise issues but miss the opportunity to address them immediately, resulting in missed chances for improvement. Managers need to become aware that feedback is most effective when delivered promptly.

  3. Gauge readiness: While immediate feedback is most powerful, managers also need to be able to assess whether the recipient is ready to receive feedback. This requires emotional intelligence to judge the right moment for delivery.

Mastering these elements takes practice, and that’s where game-based learning comes in.

Why game-based learning is the answer

Game-based learning offers a fun and engaging way to develop soft skills. Here’s how it works:


  • Self-awareness and mindfulness: Engaging in game-based activities heightens self-awareness and mindfulness, helping individuals understand their strengths and areas for improvement.

  • Practical application: Participants get the chance to put their learning into practice, gaining firsthand experience in a work-like setting.

  • Immediate feedback: The interactive nature of games provides immediate feedback, helping learners adjust and improve their skills in real-time.

  • Specific learning context: Games can be tailored to focus on specific skills such as cooperation, collaboration, and influencing, providing a clear context.

  • Psychologically safe environment: A supportive and non-judgmental environment allows participants to experiment and try new approaches without fear of failure.

  • Facilitated learning: Professional facilitation ensures that the learning experience is maximised, with structured opportunities for reflection and discussion.


Experience game-based learning with ProfitAbility

At ProfitAbility, we offer open sessions where you can participate in taster game-based learning programs for free. These sessions are designed to provide a hands-on experience of our methodology and the impactful results it can achieve.


Ready to enhance your soft skills in a fun and supportive environment? Book your spot in one of our upcoming sessions. 



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