Soft Skills / Life Skills

Research has shown that the job market recruitment criteria does not stop at hard skills (the specialist knowledge and technical ability). Employers seek out those who have leadership skills and communication skills, which is based on several key soft skills (Dixon, et al, 2010; Vasanthakumari, 2019). Hard skills and soft skills are complementary, and it is in the interplay between those two that we make progress. In this training course our focal points are empowerment, goal setting and social skills. These three important issues will overlap, as they interact and affect one another in practice.

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Introduction: Soft skills

Let’s start with taking a look at the concept!Click to read

  • Also called life skills or people skills
  • A combination of interpersonal and social skills
  • Allow someone to interact effectively and easily with others
  • Hard skills are learned through formal training and education, while the soft skills are obtained throughout daily life, personal experiences and reflections 
Examples (EucA, 2014)Click to read


Effective Communication


Assertiveness/Decision Making


Self Motivation




Creative Thinking


Problem Solving



What is it?Click to read

The empowerment concept is twofold. It covers both

  1. the process of gaining power and freedom to follow your desires or to control what happens to you and
  2. the process of giving said power or freedom to a group of people


Three pillars of empowermentClick to read

Benefits of empowerment in action (based on Shier, 2019)



 --> knowledge, skills, autonomy

Positive mindset

 --> confidence, assertiveness, courage

Supportive context

 --> respect, teamwork, good leadership


How to get there?Click to read

What can YOU do to achieve empowerment?



Trust your abilities and your instinct. Use positive self-talk. Don't be afraid to face challenges.


Consider what you want to achieve. Use the SMART goals model and commit to your goal.


Acquire capability

Change mindset

Improve conditions

Set reasonable goals

Don‘t give up!

Get to know your community and its’ social  groups. Network. Stay curious and ask questions.


Align expectations with authority (teacher, boss, parents). Establish teamwork.


Just keep swimming babyyy!


What is it?Click to read

Goal setting

  • is the process of finding out what you want to accomplish, and aiming for it over a certain period
  • is a strategy that raises productivity and performance
  • guides you away from wishful thinking!
  • goal setting theory and methods can help you to achieve your chosen goal
The SMART modelClick to read

For goal setting


…gets clarified and easier to achieve with the SMART tool

Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time based
Obstacles on your way towards the goalClick to read

What can you do?

The SMART model makes it all look so easy!

But there will probably be obstacles...

Are there any tools out there to help you with that?

Yes! The IDEAL model will guide you through the problem.


IDEALClick to read

Problem Solving Model


The real problem can be something other than what we see right now. Careful if pointing out a culprit.

Look back
Look back and learn from this process! All experience is a lesson.


After finding out what the problem is, analyze what is causing it

Choose an action and try it out. If it doesn’t solve the issue at hand, try the next one.

What possible solutions are there, and which actions can you take (as a team)?


What is it?Click to read

  • Our social skills are the skills we have learned through communicating with  other people, and enable us to interact appropriately and capably in different social contexts
  • They include assertiveness, communication, conflict resolution, coping and the ability to regulate one’s behaviour and feelings
BenefitsClick to read

Having good social skills has countless benefits for you and your society!

However, let‘s list two concrete points. By nurturing your social skills, you:

  1. improve your communication, and good communication is the key to progress
  2. improve your emotional intelligence
  3. empower yourself to be the protagonist of your own story, to make something happen!
Four important social skills …for you to equip yourself with!Click to read

Express yourself! Share your ideas and feelings and show interest in others.

Listen actively, hold back judgement. Show understanding and empathetic body language.

Don‘t be passive or aggressive. Express yourself with confidence and respect.

Conflict resolution
Don‘t be afraid of a conflict. Through cooperation you will find a solution (remember the IDEAL problem solving model)

CommunicationClick to read

Face to face communication has proven more meaningful than online communication.

The “togetherness“ plays an important role.

The body language, facial expressions, the ways of talking (tone of voice,

pauses, different stress on words) etc.

(Dupuis and Ramsey, 2011; O‘Day and Heimberg, 2021; Vasanthakumari, 2019)


Capability in communication has two aspects; skills of enquiry and skills of persuasion.

Skills of enquiry:

  1. Paying attention to what is being said
  2. Treating the speaker as an equal
  3. Cultivating ease and encouragement
  4. Asking carefully thought and formulated questions
  5. Rationing information
  6. Giving positive feedback

Skills of persuasion:

  1. Appeal to the audiences reason and emotions
  2. Find the appropriate style in language, visuals and other non-verbal communication (considering who your audience are, what they already know, what the setting is and the time of your communication)
  3. Identify the core idea, and arrange your ideas logically
  4. Deliver your ideas
  5. Use tools such as effective eye contact and metaphors

(Barker, 2010)

EmpathyClick to read

To nurture your empathic abilities…

  • consider other people's feelings and emotions
  • read stories about people, (true stories and fiction), to gain insight into other person's state of feelings and thoughts
  • step out of your comfort zone
  • examine and question your biases
  • when someone is having a difficult time “join” them in their difficulty

Brené Browns take on empathy is very enlightening:


AssertivenessClick to read

Assertiveness requires

  • self knowledge: get to know your own emotions, values and principles
  • confidence: believe in yourself and voice your opinions
  • that you regulate your emotions
  • you saying no when relevant! But do it respectfully and with arguments
  • using I statements, such as: “I feel we should…” instead of “We should…”, or “I think this is…” instead of “This is…”

Respect is crucial when it comes to assertiveness.

You have to respect your own beliefs, but also the other parts standpoint!

Conflict ResolutionClick to read

For a successful conflict resolution you need all the mentioned social skills:

  • communication:
    • active listening along with clear and respectful expression
  • empathy:
    • REALLY consider the other parts emotions
  • assertiveness:
    • stay true to your own emotions and principles


Don’t be afraid to change your mind and develop compromises.

Aaand remember the IDEAL problem solving model!

It comes in handy in many situations

Summing up

Summing upClick to read

Soft skills

Soft skills are obtained throughout daily life, personal experiences and reflections.
They make interactions easier and more effective.


You can increase your own empowerment.
It will give you confidence in your own knowledge and skills and freedom to choose your own path.

Goal Setting

The process of finding out what you want to accomplish, and planning how to.
Your goals will be clarified and easier to achieve with the SMART model and the IDEAL model.

Social Skills

Skills such as; communication, empathy, assertiveness and conflict resolution.
Enable you to interact appropriately and capably in different social settings.

Quests! Learn more.

Skill Development, Networking

Goal Setting and Public Speaking

Solving a Conflict/Problem as a Team

Test Yourself!

Related Glossary:
  • Empowerment:
    Gaining power and the freedom to follow your desires.
  • Goal setting:
    Deciding and planning what you want to achieve.
  • Social skills:
    A set of learned abilities that enable an individual to interact appropriately and successfully with others.
  • Soft skills:
    It is a type of skills that are obtained throughout daily life, personal experiences and reflections. A combination of interpersonal skills and social skills, also called life skills (or people skills).
  • See all terms

Educator Tips:

In this training, students will have to socialise in different ways, via casual networking talk, public speaking exercise and team work, adapting their mindset so that they are able to perform the proposed tasks.

Importantly they must try their best in participating, finding the courage to just go for it and learn from whatever the activities may bring.

Quest 1: in this task, students' social skills will be strengthened, and their self knowledge when it comes to values and goals in life. As it involves some active, face to face, networking, their social network will be broadened as a result.

Quest 2: a template for an election speech is proposed in this task, but it is not mandatory to follow. This activity may be stressful for students that have social anxiety.

Quest 3: the use of the IDEAL model is proposed in this task, and it is mandatory to follow. Time management is of importance with this teamwork and problem solving exercise, for it may stretch over a longer time than the allocated time.


soft skills, life skills, communication, empowerment, goal setting, social skills


American Psychological Association. (N.d.) Social Skills. APA Dictionary of Psychology (online). https://dictionary.apa.org/social-skills.

Barker,A. (2010). Improve your communication skills(2 nd end), London, Philadelphia

Cambridge University Press. (N.d.) Empowerment. Cambridge Dictionary (online). https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/empowerment.

Cambridge University Press. (N.d.) Goal setting. Cambridge Dictionary (online). https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/goal-setting.

Dixon, Jami; Belnap, Cody; Albrecht, Chad and Lee, Konrad. (2010). The Importance of Soft Skills. Corporate Finance Review; New York Vol. 14, Iss. 6,  (May/Jun 2010): 35-38.

Dupuis, E.C., & Ramsey, M.A. (2011). The Relation of Social Support to Depression in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41(10), 2479-2491.

McCarthy, Paul. (2018). Goal setting. In A. Mugford, & J. G. Cremades (Eds.), Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology: Theories and Applications (1st Edition ed.). Routledge .

O’Day, E. B., & Heimberg, R. G. (2021). Social media use, social anxiety, and loneliness: A systematic review. Computers in Human Behavior Reports, 3, 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chbr.2021.100070

Shier, H. (2019). "Empowerment" of Children and Adolescents: What is it, how does it occur, and what is the adult supporter's role? Finding answers in the experience of young people organising with CESESMA in Nicaragua.

Steinberg, L.D. (2011). Adolescence. New York: McGraw-Hil.

Vasanthakumari, S. (2019). Soft skills and its application in work place. World. Journal of Advanced Research and Reviews, 3(2), 066-072.

Yin, Y., Wang, Y., and Lu, Y. (2019). Antecedents and outcomes of employee empowerment practices: A theoretical extension with empirical evidence.




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