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The One Soft Skill That Can Make or Break a Person    

A new survey was taken among both educators and parents—which revealed that each has different perspectives when it comes to our kids. We gain a fresh perspective when we see life from the classroom as well as the family room. Both teachers and parents, however, agree on one thing for sure: that schools should assess students on both “academic knowledge” and “nonacademic skills” like teamwork, critical thinking and creativity.

The bottom line?

These caring adults (who have much at stake regarding their kids’ success) agree that both hard skills and soft skills are equally important. (The number was about 8 in 10 who agreed they are equally important). The poll was done by Gallup on behalf of NWEA, a non-profit organization that assesses educational institutions. Approximately 2,000 superintendents, administrators, teachers and parents were surveyed, and most agreed that schools should begin teaching and testing for practical life skills—“soft skills”—that will be required in future jobs.

This should not surprise anyone.

What Should Be the Soft Skills?

When the survey inquired as to which soft skills should be assessed, that’s when respondents disagreed. A wide variety of answers were given. Why?

One reason is—the variety of jobs in the market. A software programmer may need a skill set very different than a department manager. A C-Suite executive will need a broader set of skills than a new professional. The variety has never been greater.

There is agreement, however, on one particular set of soft skills.

Every element that falls under Social and Emotional Learning (S.E.L.) is important, according to survey respondents.  S.E.L. is something I’ve written about frequently. The skills that make up S.E.L. will be utilized by almost every job in nearly every career.  And I believe there is one S.E.L. skill that impacts all the others.

The One Soft Skill That Can Make or Break a Person

After working at some level of relationship with over 8,000 schools or organizations, I believe there is a root “skill” that not only influences all others, but when mastered, enables people—especially students—to master themselves and succeed. What is it?

The ability to manage our emotions.

Consider this rationale.

  • When a high school student cannot control their emotional outbursts, they sabotage not only the classroom time, but their ability to utilize logic in learning. Heightened emotions tend to last 90 seconds, but they decrease clear thinking for hours.
  • When a young retail clerk cannot control their emotional response at an unhappy customer, they not only risk losing a sale, they may push away a customer for good and motivate them to tell the story on social media. It has a ripple effect.
  • When a student-athletes cannot manage their emotion, it may appear positive at first, since they play with more passion or anger for a few minutes. Unfortunately, those emotions remove good judgment and usually lead to fouls and penalties.
  • When a young married person cannot control their emotions, their partner may feel it’s bearable for a week or two. When it’s a regular pattern, however, no healthy person wants to remain in the same home with that sort of volatile partner.

What’s Happened to Us?

I believe it is our inability to manage our emotions that’s led to the high amount of “solo” time both teens and adults experience today. More people live alone. More people eat alone. More people travel alone. More people interact on-line instead of in person than at any time in our past. And when we are in public with others, we often wear ear-buds because we don’t like the hassle of having to interact with others. We “ghost” others. We “phub” others. We “digitally dis” others.

  • We’ve become impulsive.
  • We’ve become impatient.
  • We’ve become impersonal.

Why? I believe because it requires too much work to manage our emotions.

Managing emotions is essentially what emotional intelligence is about. It requires self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. And this post is all about beckoning you to commit yourself to both teach and assess the number one soft-skill we must cultivate in students: to learn how to manage their emotions. Our students need to:

  • Learn to actively listen
  • Learn to empathize
  • Learn to recognize and value unique individuals
  • Learn to welcome, not shun, diverse perspectives
  • Learn to withhold judgment until a person is finished talking

Regardless of whether you’re a parent, educator, coach, employer, or youth worker, I beg you to find a way to develop and measure this paramount soft skill in your students.


New Habitudes Course:
Social & Emotional Learning

Our Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning curriculum uses memorable imagery, real-life stories and practical experiences to teach timeless skills in a way that is relevant to students today. Students are constantly using images to communicate via emojis, Instagram, and Snapchat. Why not utilize their favorite language to bridge the gap between learning and real-life application?

Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning helps middle and high school students:

  • Develop habits of self-discipline and initiative
  • Implement time management skills to do what really counts
  • Plan for personal growth outside the classroom
  • Identify their unique strengths and passions for a healthy self-image
  • And many more social and emotional skills

Click on the link below today to learn more about Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning!

Learn More

2 Comments

  1. iptv box on October 4, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Hello,nice share.

  2. best cccam on October 4, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Hello,nice share.

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The One Soft Skill That Can Make or Break a Person