What are “Soft Skills”?

Written by Ann M. Pannell, MA CCC-SLP, Owner of Clarity Speech Coaching www.clarityspeechcoaching.com

In business (and life!), poor
communication skills can be costly.

A hot topic for hiring professionals in today’s job market are “soft skills”.  If you google soft skills, these are considered to be “ personal attributes that enable a person to interact harmoniously and effectively with other people”.  W-O-W that is quite the definition. I discuss and coach soft skills communication daily with my clients, and I often encourage them to see these (being soft skills) as non-negotiable life skills.   Isn’t being able to cultivate relationships by effective communication the key to a happy life?  To a successful career?

When addressing the deep and broad concept of soft skills, I choose to focus on the area of stellar communication skills.  As a Speech Language Pathologist, I view communication as first being a good listener, with understanding leading to sound communication.  I focus on Receptive Language skills ( the hearing and processing of information ) which is referring to listening, hearing and synthesizing information. Also Expressive Language Skills (Verbal communication)  referring to speaking clearly and concisely, with appropriate vocabulary and grammar.  And lastly Nonverbal Communication focusing on body language, facial expressions, gestures and tone of voice.  Communication is made up of many small pieces and having a breakdown in any of these mentioned areas can and will impact your effectiveness as a communicator.

Learning to communicate effectively in business is perhaps the most important skill a leader can develop. I want to share with you an easy formula for success – The 3 C’s Strategy.

The C’s stand for: clarity, connect, compel.


#1 C – Clarity. Whether you are speaking or writing, make sure that others can easily understand you the first time. Misunderstanding can lead to a performance that falls short of your expectations. Ambiguity can lead to misinterpretation of intentions and content, which could cause feelings to be hurt or company misinformation.  Make sure you speak clearly, and use correct pronunciation.

#2 C – Connect. You communicate effectively by connecting people to a meaningful purpose. Help them understand why that purpose is important. Then make them feel proud for being connected to it. A great example of how a leader connected a follower to a purpose is when President Kennedy asked a janitor at NASA about his purpose:

 Urban legend says that Kennedy asked the janitor, “What do you do here?” The janitor didn’t say, “I sweep floors.” He didn’t say, “I keep the place clean.” What he did say was, “Mr. President, I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”

Somebody connected that janitor to a purpose, and he felt proud.

#3 C – Compel Leaders motivate and inspire their followers to take action. Think about the word “inspire.” It means to breath life into an idea. Choose compelling words and phrases when you speak and your followers will be inspired. Let your colleagues, team members and subordinates hear you say things like, “You are amazing,” “We couldn’t have done it without you,” “You make it look easy,” “You made my day,” “I am glad you are on my team.” It doesn’t take much to make people feel like they matter. Communicating with compelling words and phrases go a long way to make others feel valued and appreciated.

Communicating clearly by
using the 3 C’s will help avoid costly mistakes, minimize downturns in
performance, and keep people happy and fulfilled.

Speech Coaching can help improve your communication soft skills: the results will include vibrant and dynamic presentations skills; clearer pronunciation; more natural speech rhythm, voice inflection, and cadence; as well as effective business communication skills.

If you have more questions, or if this article has peaked your interest, I would like to hear from you.

Let’s Talk!

Please contact me with questions at [email protected]


Are you ready to demonstrate your “SOFT” communication skills?

Contact us for a free 30 minute consultation.