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Why are soft skills so hard to master?

By Sue Beavil, Senior Training & Development Manager, Mayer Brown

14 November 2013

'Soft skills' is a catch-all phrase used to describe a set of skills, knowledge and behaviours widely accepted as essential to the success of businesses of all shapes, sizes, sectors and purposes. They are the skills which are interchangeably described as professional skills, behavioural competences, interpersonal skills, personal effectiveness and even the 'pink and fluffy stuff'.

Soft skills are distinctive from the 'hard', technical, occupational or functional skills which people more happily attribute to their success in their chosen roles. Hard skills in law firms equate to legal practice, knowledge of the law, legal research and analysis and legal drafting for lawyers, and function-specific occupational skills for business services and support employees such as accounts, HR, office management and legal secretaries.

So, why are soft skills often regarded as second class or incidental skills? Some might suggest that, in order to...

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