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Violet silk fabric background. Isolated.Last month I was delivering soft skills training in Russia, the month before Poland. This is part of a global roll out for a company wanting to increase its competitive edge. They want their clients to be addicted to working with them, for soft skills to be their winning edge. They want all 1200 staff to reduce their customers’ anxiety through regular communication, anticipating needs and going the extra mile.

After twenty years of working in coaching, communication and soft skills, I still find it rare to find a company so tangibly committed to its own success through soft skills investment. It’s music to my ears!’s definition of soft skills is:

“personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.”

The global roll out soft skills training programme has reminded me of when I was technically competent in my role, but had not learnt soft skills for myself.

When I was in my twenties and early thirties, there were at least two jobs I went for where the feedback was this. There was no doubt I could do the role, but people didn’t think they could work with me. I was clever, but I didn’t have understanding. Ouch.

Things are different now. I’m not always skilful, but it’s usually a much more comfortable ride. I am much more likely to achieve the outcomes I am looking for too. Here are some things I have learnt along the way:

  • It’s not about being technically right. Being accurate, competent or correct is not enough. I have found that if my mindset is not about working with someone else to get a result, my great answer is so much less likely to be heard.
  • It always involves being able to imagine my way into the other person’s shoes. It took me a long while to learn to think about what the other person might be feeling, and to tailor my argument or logic to this starting point.
  • It’s OK not to be perfect, in fact it helps to own it. The more I share how it is for me at an emotional level (hard, demanding, difficult etc), the more chance I have that people warm towards me and are willing for us to work together.

After I lost the second job I was very upset. I decided to make a change. With a colleague’s help, I found and engaged with some coaching support. It was the beginning of a journey to self understanding, self compassion and then the development of these so called “soft skills”. I define these as those which help us relate to and engage with people to achieve mutually desired goals.

My experience is that soft skills – whether we call them people skills, social skills, communication skills or something else – are complex, challenging and fascinating to master.

I’m wondering – is there anything in my story which resonates with you? Do you need a shift like this for yourself personally, or for your whole team or organisation?

I would love to help you develop a new mindset and set of soft skills from which you can achieve the career and business results you deserve.


Gill How loves to help people develop their soft skills to achieve their professional ambitions and to help organisations to become more effective. Please get in touch for an exploratory conversation about how her skills could support you or your organisation’s success. She has availability to work as a coach, as a specialist trainer or as part of your project team.

Gill is delighted to be working with STL as part of their team on the global rollout soft skills training project for their forward thinking pharmaceutical sector client.


Recent experience of working with Gill:

“The approach that Gill took to delivering the ILM Level 5 Leadership and Management course was first class, challenging my perceptions of new theories. Our work together really stretched me. Gill made the leadership models and techniques relevant to my workplace, and the real-life challenges I was facing at the time. It’s really developed confidence in my own abilities, and given me the knowledge and techniques to model great leadership for others going forward.”  Steven Garratt, Director of Operations, Modern Mindset


Photo Credit: Liliia Rudchenko, Creative

Gill How

Helping leaders grow, step up and deliver outstanding results


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