The 8 Most Important Soft Skills Every Graduating Student Needs and Why

by | Feb 13, 2017

“Soft skills” is a term that has been appearing more and more in education in recent years. Such skills transform the future of all of us for the better. They are based on the best inside of us. In short, mastering these soft skills help us work, learn, and live better. We’re going to spend some time discussing which ones are most useful (and necessary) for students journeying into the modern workforces after school.

What we’ve got is not a comprehensive all-or-nothing list by any means. But it is definitely a collection of some of the more valued and versatile and ones.

The Best Soft Skills for Students (and Everyone)

As you may expect, there are lots of definitions for them. One way to say it is that soft skills encompass non-curricular emotionally-based skills that are not generally measurable. They have more to do with how we connect with each other, and with the world around us. In many ways, they’re also about building relationships.

With this in mind, let’s look at the top “softies” that are pretty much indispensable for every student.

1. Creativity

It’s no surprise that creativity factors into the list. It’s not just a valuable learning pursuit; it’s vital to success in school and in the workplace. It’s why Creativity Fluency is used in thousands of schools all over the world.

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Why Creativity Matters: The global marketplace is more competitive than ever. Innovative products thrive on an organization’s ability to design and present them in an aesthetically pleasing way. Creative thinking and application grabs consumers’ attention and secures their loyalty. Ultimately, creativity is a common language between all of us. We can all learn to communicate our passions and ideas with it.

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2. Problem Solving

As far as soft skills go, this one is probably the most important. The ability to solve real-world problems using a guided process like Solution Fluency is crucial to surviving and thriving in the present and the future.

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Why Problem Solving Matters: The world is changing, and will keep on changing dramatically. Our children will be solving future problems that we can’t even imagine yet. They’ll face challenges that require skills to define a problem, design an appropriate solution, and put it to effective use. Problem-solving skills will help them tackle anything from writing a shopping list to designing and realizing their biggest dreams.

3. Critical Thinking

The ability to think critically is a must for future success in a changing world. It’s about thinking independently, responsibly, and productively. One of the best definitions of critical thinking can be found here.

lightning-brain

Why Critical Thinking Matters: The way we think about the world, ourselves, and each other affects more than just personal experience. It has a part in defining the future of everything and everyone and the entire world. It’s called the “Ripple Effect.” It’s been a part of many cultural philosophies for thousands of years. It reminds us that how we choose to think and act influences our whole world. We don’t have to be overwhelmed by this—just simply aware of it. We can let this idea guide us in our critical thinking practices.

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4. Leadership

Leadership is a soft skill that can change people’s lives in positive ways. One who leads isn’t just one who manages things. What a leader does is inspire, motivate, and empower. It’s about seeing the best in people and showing them how they can use it to be proactive in all they do.

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Why Leadership Matters: Natural leaders are an asset in any classroom and on every workforce. Anyone whose attitude moves from “I can do it” to “we can do it” makes everybody better. It’s the right kind of independence and willingness to take responsibility for making good things happen, not just simply getting things done. Leaders see more, do more, and learn more than they would if they were simply delegators or managers.

5. Communication

In the digital age, communication has transformed beyond face-to-face interaction. We communicate using technology more than ever. Even so, whatever medium we choose to connect with, there are skills we can acquire to help us communicate more effectively.

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Why Communication Matters: In school, we work in groups to produce solutions to the challenges and problems we face. In the workplace, we do the exact same thing. The only way this can be done effectively is with good communication. Having communication skills means less stress, more productivity, and better relationship-building practices.

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6. Collaboration

This means being able to work in groups that are both physical and virtual. It includes proficiency in communication, empathy, and leadership values. It means being able to work with someone across the world just as easily and productively as someone across the room. This is why Collaboration Fluency is one of the Essential Fluencies being taught in classrooms all over the globe.

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Why Collaboration Matters: Working in groups is a hallmark of the digital age. Our classrooms and businesses incorporate teamwork into their daily practices. Collaborative abilities have a permanent place among the soft skills all students can benefit from having.

7. Information Management

According to VCloud News, approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created online every single day. This statistic is only bound to get higher as time goes on. Information is essentially all things on the Internet. There is so much out there that a skill set is needed to decipher much of it and make it useful. This is what Information Fluency teaches us.

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Why Information Management Matters: Dealing with information means we can determine what is valuable, and discard what is spurious or questionable. This is important for producing solutions and products that are genuine and useful. It’s also an aspect of research and proper attribution of sources, things every good digital citizen needs to know.

8. Adaptability

As mentioned earlier, the world is changing. However, it’s not just the world we need to keep an eye on. We need to be just as flexible in our personal lives as well. Life is fluid—sometimes it’s a stream, sometimes a river, and sometimes a tidal wave. Learn to keep your head above all of it.

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Why Adaptability Matters: We deal with trends of every kind constantly. Business, technology, entertainment, communication, and lifestyle trends are just some of the many. What makes it more challenging is that each major trend can often have several sub-trends of its own. Keeping abreast of these means staying informed and knowing when to take advantage of opportunities. As for life itself, it will always have challenges, no matter how well things are going. Being able to adapt to change in all its forms keeps us constantly prepared to survive and succeed no matter what climate we’re in.

 

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