I know I have spoken about this for years, but there is a big difference between training people on hard skills versus soft skills. I know that once again, the Learning and Development gurus have decided to change the names, like soft skills are now power skills or human skills. For me, hard skills are things you do with things and soft skills are things you do with people. Okay, let’s move on.
If that is the case, then there must be different ways to get the information into the brain (and there is). Hard skills are housed in the prefrontal cortex where your judgment resides along with knowledge and facts. Think of all of the cognitive things you know (numbers, letters, etc.); you will find that stuff in the prefrontal cortex. Soft skills are housed in the limbic system, the same place where your impulse to fight or flee if something bad is coming your way. Thus, each requires a different way to absorb information.
Declarative v Procedural Learning
Further down the road to Nerdville, there are two ways to learn information, declarative and procedural. Declarative learning, since it addresses facts and knowledge, utilizes systems such as books, lectures, videos, PowerPoint and so on. The internet is great for declarative learning, as well as all of these online learning platforms. Procedural learning, which addresses people skills, uses roles plays, on the job training, and observation to mimic. Online platforms are NOT good for these things.
That is right. They are not. You have been sold.
Most people in the L&D space, as well as those that are consumers, believe that if the tools that assist in hard skills works, why not try them with soft skills. Nope, not going to work.
Well, how come it does work — sometimes?
The soft skills learning gains are from one’s ability to be self directed, not from the content and platforms used today online. Click here for a better view of this subject. But, let’s get to today’s controversial topic.
Keep the Consequences
“Learn from your mistakes and build on your successes.” — John C. Calhoun
I could have picked from many of the “learn from your mistakes” quotes, but none of them get it right.
It isn’t the fact that you made a mistake, but how you feel once you have realized that you made a mistake. Katheryn Schulz delivered a light-hearted TED talk on being wrong. “Before you realize that you are wrong, it feels like being right.”
It’s about the fear of consequences. By the way, I’m not talking about cutting your fingers off if you spill your drink. However, there must be a reality that being wrong or making a mistake is not a good thing and there are some consequences. This is counter to the culture right now as everyone is looking for psychological safety. I agree that there must be a safe space to have discussions, but if we are talking about failure as a learning tool, the consequences have to stay. Why is that?