Having soft skills needed for the 21st century workforce make the largest difference, day to day
Between the time of graduation and a first job, chiropractic students may often need to work on their soft skills needed for the 21st century workforce. According to John S. Hilton, DC at KIIN, “The employment history, degrees, certifications, and fellowships listed on your curriculum vitae are a list of hard skills. Soft skills may be related as aptitudes not easily listed on a curriculum vitae.”
The latter may be “interpreted as individual levels of curiosity, empathy, emotional intelligence, sociability, charisma, and situational intelligence. Soft skills represent an individual’s relationship to their own body awareness, spatial awareness, or even, pessimism, optimism, and introspection. And, their level of self-management, self-discipline, personal motivation, relationship with risk and change, processes for solving problems and their creativity,” says Hilton. “Everyone has a range of skills, including soft skills, that vary to the context and situation and to the level of expertise and effectiveness. Although, they most likely have been developing our entire life, they are typically not easy to measure in an objective manner.”
Hilton answered other questions about soft skills and how DC students can develop them. What follows is our interview, edited for length and clarity.
How can chiropractic students develop soft skills needed for the 21st century workforce?
While in chiropractic university, many students are attending personal development courses and seminars on their own time for the purpose of personal and professional growth.
There are also many challenging, informative, and fun clubs and organizations to discover on campus. There are mentorship programs pairing new students with more seasoned students. Many are visiting practicing doctor’s offices and facilities to glean some insights on what to expect from experienced professionals.
In an article titled, Let’s Stop Calling Them Soft Skills, Seth Godin writes that referring to these skills as “soft” is creating a perception that they are less respected, less urgent to learn, and even optional. He also points out when a lack of these skills become a problem in a work or professional space, people are rarely fired because it may be perceived as personal, and rarely retrained to have better skills, because it is often considered wasteful. He points out how crazy this is because, as infants, we had none of these skills. Of course, we learn them.
How are soft skills developed?
We all have soft skills we have been developing over our lives via our unique experiences. So, it seems to be a matter of determining where you want to improve. Determining what “real skills” are most valuable in the specialization of chiropractic should be proving valuable. If they aspire to own their own clinic, there are many real skills that are specifically serving the independent business owner.
From there, every interaction is an opportunity to improve on such skills. Some could be coming from sincere empathy, the state of acceptance, cultivating the ability to listen empathically, emotional intelligence with self and others, the state of acceptance, critical thinking and the art of questioning and paraphrasing, validation skills, knowing how to direct a conversation, negotiation skills, attending to the meaning of body language, respecting others and their roles and level of understanding, being diligent, punctual and hardworking, efficient teamwork, components and process of building trust, how to communicate instructions, clarifying skills, being responsible, being adaptable, being curious, expressing humility, and having a good sense of humor.
Why is having soft skills especially important today, especially in the workplace?
Having soft skills needed for the 21st century workforce is especially important because we are realizing they are real skills, and they make the largest difference, day to day.
In today’s workplace, as there are more people, more positions, ever increasing information available, and everyone is getting better at soft skills, attending to your own excellence in these skill areas is more valuable than ever.
How can chiropractic students develop them in the workplace?
Chiropractic students have been and will be developing these skills throughout their career and life, consciously or unconsciously. The more conscious we can be about our soft skills — how they pertain to our professional needs, what is working well and what can be improved upon — the more we can take further action for improving them, and, conceptually, the more successful we can be.
It seems to be a continual opportunity to produce better outcomes. Navigating the many facets of our personal and professional life is helped every time we have a little more competence in these areas.