Can communication be both a soft and hard skill?

While communication is a desired soft skill for some employers, communications has the qualities of a hard skill, too.

Do you want to learn about a skill that will assist you in reaching your career goals? This is a diverse skill that can help you get started on a job and lead you into a career field – this skill is communication.

According to the articles “Six Soft Skills That Could Land You the Job” and “Top 10 Soft Skills for Job Hunters,” communication is a desired soft skill. Soft skills are character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relationship with other people as defined by Investopedia. In relation to communication, soft skills are reflected through the following actions: communicating well to interact and get along with other people, using communication effectively to be a good team player and using communication as a means of motivating people.

Other than speaking or talking, communication can take on specific forms. For example, technical writing is a specific form of communication. defines technical writing as written communications done on the job, especially in fields with specialized vocabularies, such as science engineering, technology and the health sciences. Let’s also think about this in the digital age; other forms of communication such as creating webpages and websites for the Internet, producing videos for the Internet or producing television shows would fall into this type of communication.

Communication travels through many channels including the radio, the telephone, cellular phone (talking and text messaging), e-mail and communicating through video conferencing and webinars. People also communicate through art in the forms of music, dance, poetry, drawing, and painting.

Because of both the different forms and channels of communication, different skills are needed to communicate well in them. Is it fair to consider communication a hard skill, too? Investopedia states that hard skills are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured; examples of hard skills are typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs. These skills are used in the different forms of communication.

Whether communication is a soft skill or a hard skill, Michigan 4-H Youth Development has resources to help adults teach youth how to learn both sets of skills. There is a Michigan 4-H Communications resource that contains activities to build the hard skills and soft skills in youth: the “Communications Toolkit: Fun, Skill-Building Activities to Do With Kids.” This resource has activities to build the hard skills in communications such as writing, visual communication, visual and media technology. For the soft skills, it has ice-breakers and group activities to help youth learn teambuilding and interacting with other people.

Communication is an important skill to have in a person’s career and can be developed as both soft and hard skills. Utilize the resource or resources to help youth develop both sets of skills for a productive and successful career.

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