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Seven Essential Soft Skills That Every Student, Teacher and Parent Needs to Know and Develop

Written by Patrick Quigley


Introduction to Seven Essential Soft Skills That Every Student, Teacher and Parent Needs to Know and Develop. 


“The soft overcome the hard; and the weak the strong.” ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching



Weak - Strong




The aim of this short article is just to highlight soft skills that everyone should be developing. I don`t have scope here to go into detail but it is extremely easy to do an internet search and research each soft skill independently. They are all important for creating a healthy, balanced individual who can work both as a team member and independently. 

Soft skills play a crucial part in all human relationships. Mainstream educational models often neglect them. This neglect can have detrimental effects on life, and it is up to everyone to learn how to become autonomous and develop these skills for themselves. People who communicate well are likely to have more friends, and people with more friends are likely to be happier and feel more supported. 

These days teaching and learning soft skills are more important than ever before. We live in a globalized world where people and organizations are digitally connected more than at any other time in history. In recent years, however, employers have been reporting a lack of soft skills in new graduates. Research conducted in 2018 by the Stanford Research Institute International and the Carnegie Melon Foundation with Fortune 500 Company Executive Officers found that 75% of success in long-term jobs depends on soft skills. Imagine that! Only 25% depended on job-related skills! Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have had to adapt to new ways of connecting with colleagues online and have had to develop different routines and work styles where soft skills are essential.

Soft skills are something that an individual needs to identify and develop themselves. Concepts can be taught, and tasks can be given by teachers, but the real work needs to be done by the learner. Identifying what you need to work on is half the battle. Once you have identified what you need to work on, do some research and get to work. Everyone needs to work on communication skills and being a better listener and speaker. It is quite likely YOU are one of these! 


Soft Skills




There are countless articles and vlogs and blogs and tutorial videos available online. Taking the time to work on your soft skills will enhance your life, your job prospects, and your relationships. Of that, I am convinced. Taking the time to work on yourself and your relationships is always worthwhile. 

This short article will look at 7 basic core soft skills. One for each day of the week! These soft skills are problem-solving skills, time management, conflict resolution, negotiation skills, leadership development, emotional intelligence and creative thinking.

As I researched this article, I realized just how important these soft skills really are. I hope this text instils some passion in you to develop your own soft skills. You won`t regret it. 


Seven Essential Soft Skills That Every Student, Teacher and Parent Needs to Know and Develop


Problem-Solving Skills






Problem-solving skills are essential to resolve problems and achieve objectives. Life can be seen as a series of challenges and problems which need to be overcome. This is true in all levels of society from relationships to work to social activities. When an individual lacks problem-solving skill, they may find themselves stuck in dilemmas they are unable to get out of. Nobody wants to find themselves in that position.

Problem-solving soft skills help us weigh up potential courses of action, predict outcomes, evaluate situations, consider advantages and disadvantages, and decide on a suitable way forward.

These days when looking for a job common interview questions often focus on an individual`s problem-solving skills and how they use them diverse in situations. Some interviewers ask for specific examples of problems that have been solved. They want to see how capable the interviewee is. Students and interviewees should prepare to provide specific information about problem-solving abilities.


Time management



Make the Time



Having time management skills enables you to effectively plan and accomplish goals. Good time management allows you to be more efficient and accomplish more in less time. That could lead to having more free time and that in turn lowers stress levels. It also leads to more career success and helps you to focus and be attentive.

Individuals with developed time management skills understand how to prioritize tasks and implement plans to achieve objectives.

Individuals with poor time management skills waste valuable time and may miss business opportunities.


Conflict resolution



Conflict Resolution



Conflict occurs from differences, both big and small. It arises when people disagree over their ideas, desires, values, motivations, or perceptions. Conflict and conflict resolution are a part of everyone´s lives. Sometimes differences seem trivial, but when a conflict brings about strong feelings, intense personal needs are often at the heart of the dilemma. These needs can range from the need for greater closeness and intimacy to feeling safe and secure or valued and respected.

Think about the conflicting needs of a child and a parent. The child needs to explore and discover the surrounding environment. That´s an essential part of being a child. Going to the street or the top of the stairs meets that need. The parent needs to protect the child, a need that can only be met by restricting the child’s exploration. These needs are conflicting and therefore conflict arises. Conflict hasn`t arisen because someone did something malicious but at the same time it has arisen and needs to be addressed to create harmony in the family.

The needs of each person play a crucial part in the long-term success of all relationships, whether personal or professional. Each need deserves consideration and, respect. In the workplace, differing needs can result in decreased profits, people losing their jobs and failed business deals. In personal relationships, misunderstanding about conflicting needs can result in arguments stress and break-ups, divorces and the chaos that invariably comes with both. 

Again, conflict resolution is a crucial skill for all. But is there a subject at school called ¨conflict resolution¨? Do teachers and parents even know how to resolve conflict themselves? Why have these essential soft skills been given so little priority in our schools and education systems? Why is there so much conflict in the world? Are the two connected? Is there something we can do about it? There is. 


Negotiation skills



Negotiation Skills



Negotiation skills allow two or more people to communicate and come to an agreement. Negotiation skills include active listening, communication, persuasion, planning, strategizing, patience, adaptability, integrity, rapport-building, decision-making, problem-solving, cooperating, and emotional intelligence.

Whether you are negotiating to buy a pair of jeans at a flea market stall, a promotion, a salary rises or the price of a new house, negotiation skills are critical in anything we do.


Leadership development






Leadership development skills are characteristics that employers look for in job candidates for management roles. They comprise a list of other soft skills like strategic thinking, creativity, teamwork, collaboration, flexibility, problem-solving and the ability to lead by example.

These soft skills are important for those who run projects and teams, manage development, and motivate colleagues to perform to the best of their ability.

True leadership soft skills include perseverance, confidence, and the ability to inspire peers by the constant ability to have a growth mindset and set a positive example.


Emotional intelligence



Emotional Intelligence



Emotional intelligence is the ability to see, control, and evaluate emotions. Researchers suggest that emotional intelligence can be strengthened and developed. It could also be an innate personality trait. It is a combination of both, a mixture of nature and nurture

Examples of emotional intelligence include:

  • Being able to accept change
  • Being curious, especially about other individuals. (Wanting to know what makes others tick)
  • Having feelings of concern and empathy for other people.
  • Being sensitive to the emotions of others.
  • Being able to accept responsibility for your own mistakes
  • Being able to manage emotions in challenging situations
  • Being able to describe and identify what other people are feeling and going through
  • Being aware of personal limitations and personal strengths.
  • Being self-confident and self-accepting
  • Being able to let go of mistakes


 Creative thinking





Creative thinking skills include the mental process involved in creating a product or solving a dilemma. These soft skills include convergent thinking soft skills and divergent thinking soft skills.

Convergent thinking is when you evaluate new ideas and alternatives and then determine the best option.

Divergent thinking skills are needed to find solutions, be open to new possibilities and create new ideas,

Creative thinking may involve creating connections between different topics, finding patterns in what seems like unrelated things or using reverse problem-solving skills i.e., working backwards methodically and filling in the missing information.


Who am I






There is nothing “soft” about soft skills. They are more important than we can ever imagine

Take the time to invest in working on your soft skills. Your life will improve. You will connect more with friends, family and colleagues and you will have a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life. No one else can do this for you. You must make the effort yourself. Doing this will contribute to a happier and healthier society not just for you but for everyone you connect with. 

There is a saying in martial arts and Taoist philosophy which I quoted at the start of this article. It is worth repeating again here at the end. 


“The soft overcome the hard; and the weak the strong.”  – Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching


The example often given to support this quotation is that water dripping softly on a rock will eventually wear away the rock. There is power in softness, just as there is power in committing to the development of your soft skills. 

Why wait? Start today. Time waits for no one!

Good luck!





“Communication is the solvent of all problems and is the foundation for personal development.” – Peter Shepherd


“Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.” – Robert Frost.






Patrick is from Ireland and has been teaching for the last twenty years. He has worked in Malaysia, Myanmar, India, Spain, Japan, Taiwan, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. He has a degree in English Literature and Applied Psychology. Patrick loves travelling and learning about new cultures. He is passionate about motivating students to maximize their creative potential.


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Chris is from Devon, in the south of England. He has been teaching English as a foreign language for over six years and has taught in China, the UK, Hungary and Spain. He has a background in Music and studied Composition at the RSAMD in Glasgow, Trinity Laban in London and at the University of York. After finishing his master’s at York, he travelled to China to teach and fell in love with it. He has been teaching ever since.

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