soft skills

Tips for Students: Expanding Beyond Your Comfort Zone

As we mentioned in our previous post on seeking out the commonalities we share with others, college does provide students with an optimal setting for meeting new people and exploring new ideas. However, as much as some students may want to step outside of their relational comfort zones, they may be unsure of the best way to go about doing so. If you’d like to offer your students some direction, offer them these tips, which we’ve adapted from Christine Harrington’s Student Success in College: Doing What Works! A Research-Focused Approach. Share or discuss them with any students who might want to Read More…


Tips for Students: Making Connections in College

Spring is in the air and while college students may be hard at work studying for finals, they may not have found the time to have an active social life as well. Good on them for buckling down, certainly, but a well-balanced life is what keeps students happy and motivated. According to author Julia T. Wood in her text, Communication in Our Lives, Seventh Edition, socializing helps us to build the much-needed communication skills that we use every day. “We spend a great deal of time communicating. We talk, listen, have dialogues with ourselves, participate in group discussions, present oral reports, watch Read More…


Helping Students Find Valuable Volunteer Opportunities

It may sound cliche, but when students decide to volunteer their time and efforts to an organization or cause, they may feel as though they’ve gained at least as much as they’ve given. First and foremost, they’ll likely experience the confidence and contentment that comes with the knowledge that they’ve contributed to a worthwhile effort. Students can also glean some specific skills that relate to a future career, as well as some soft skills that can benefit them in any number of roles they’ll take on in the future. And, depending on the capacity in which they’ve served Read More…


Career Advice: How to Make the Most of a Mentoring Relationship

Working with a mentor is an invaluable opportunity that can be beneficial to both the mentor and the mentee. A mentor can give you advice on beginning or transitioning within your career, demonstrate expectations, and serve as a role model for appropriate workplace protocol. Check with your school—some institutions offer mentoring programs that can match you to tenured professionals who are eager to share their experiences and help newer professionals develop their career plans. The same programs can also help you match yourself to an ambitious student who may be eagerly looking to you as a mentor of Read More…


Teaching Time Management

While in college, students tend to recognize their need for improved (or refined) time-management practices. In addition to their studies, students often balance jobs, family obligations, volunteer and social activities, and other responsibilities. Even the students with the best intentions may battle with a tendency towards procrastination; others may simply not yet be aware of the tools and strategies that will help them prioritize their time. And of course, they must all deal with the distractions that frequently become time-wasters that could possibly derail the focus and attention they devote to their studies. Given these factors, you Read More…


Using Influence in a Positive Manner

Think about the people who influenced you in a positive manner. Maybe it’s the teacher who sparked a passion for learning, the adventurer who gave you the travel bug, or the public figure who opened your eyes to a new avenue of service. Whoever comes to mind, you’ll observe that somehow they motivated you to see your situation in new ways, helped you develop a more positive attitude, prompted you to think beyond yourself, and encouraged you to participate in a meaningful and life-changing endeavor. Perhaps you hope to influence others to join your cause or consider your point of view Read More…


How to Delegate Wisely and Effectively

What’s on your plate today… this month… this year? If you’re like many of us, your answer may be: “too much.” But take a look around, and perhaps you’ll see qualified, intelligent people that could benefit from the experience of taking on one of those projects or responsibilities. If those people have the time, ability, and inclination, you may be able to delegate a project from your to-do list to one of them. By delegating tasks, you provide others with the opportunity to stretch their wings, learn some new skills, and gain confidence in their ability to conquer new Read More…


Activity: Speaking Up in Group Situations

When working on a project, each member of a team typically works toward reaching consensus on the decisions that need to be made. Furthermore, most people want to minimize the opportunity for conflict, which can make meetings uncomfortable and ultimately distract a team from its overall aims. Unfortunately, at times, this desire to avoid conflict supersedes people’s willingness to challenge a popular idea, because they fear that raising their concerns will brand them as “troublemakers” and disrupt the unity they’d worked so hard to achieve. As Cindy Griffin and Jennifer Emerling Bone state in their text Invitation to Human Communication, group members should “…remember Read More…


Preparing Students for Collaboration in the Workplace

Professionals in any field must have a strong handle on the skills, expertise, and knowledge that their work requires. However, if you have top-notch training or razor-sharp insights, but you don’t speak cogently or treat others with respect, it’s difficult to develop smooth-running work relationships or persuade others to see the value you have to offer to a project or team. Therefore, it pays to develop the soft skills that enable you to function well in groups and teams formed at work or within other organizations. In this video, Cengage Learning author Jeff Butterfield describes why he believes Read More…


Leading Virtual Teams

If you teach online courses, you may create assignments that require students to collaborate on projects in a technology-mediated setting. It’s also possible that, at some point, you yourself will need to lead a group of people that are based in a variety of locations, many miles apart from one another. If your group needs to meet on a regular basis, you probably won’t all fly to one site for every meeting; most of the time, you will probably conduct your meetings via telephone or the Internet. In a similar vein, much of your regular communication will Read More…