When it comes to workshops, training, and online courses,  most people think of skill development.

Skill development breaks down into two types of skills — hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills tend to be “hands-on” and measurable. Carpentry skills, computer skills, financial skills are all examples of hard skills. They tend to be easy to quantify and demonstrate.  Their use tends to be context-specific, so hard skills are often not easily transferable to other contexts or situations.

Soft skills, on the other hand, tend to relate to people skills. Communication skills, problem-solving skills, as well as flexibility, adaptability, and creativity are all examples of soft skills.

Soft skills are notable because they seem somewhat intangible. They are also hard to measure or quantify. For example, is there a way to accurately measure or rate creativity?

On the other hand, soft skills have the benefit of often being easily transferable. In other words, the creative thinking skills that you learn in one context can be often be applied to other situations or contexts, which can come in real handy

So why am I harping on soft skills?  Simple.

You see, most of us who are in the coaching, consulting, and mentoring business rely on our own set of soft skills in our interactions with clients. We are also, in many cases, teaching soft skills to our clients.

We may not even be aware that we are teaching our clients soft skills until we try to take our live workshops or 1:1 training programs online. Which begs the question, what are some strategies for teaching soft skills online? 

There are quite a few ways to teach soft skills in an e-learning environment. Today, I’ll share my top 4 soft skill online teaching strategies. 

Strategy #1Use case-based scenarios (elearning scenarios). In other words, show a particular use of a soft skill in action by describing a hypothetical use of it in a real-world context. 

Strategy #2Make it measurable. One of the most effective ways to measure or evaluate the use (or mastery) of a soft skill is by using a rubric. A rubric is simply a guide that lists specific criteria for evaluating something that can’t easily be proven “right” or “wrong” or be easily quantified. You can learn more about rubrics by reading my blog post on the topic HERE

Strategy #3Focus on one skill (or sub-skill) at a time. When teaching soft skills online, it’s important to break those skills down into specific contexts or instances of use. For example, if you’re teaching communication skills tied to parenting, you might break the training down in the following manner:  

  • Communicating choice
  • Communication boundaries
  • Communication trust

Strategy #4Make it as real as possible. Some of the most effective ways to teach soft skills in an online learning environment are through simulation or what I like to call “test drives”. For example, going back to the communication skills for parents context, parents [in the course] could complete a series of “test drives” in which they try out each type of communication context [they learn in the course] with their child(ren). They could then use a rubric to self-assess how the communication exchange went. Then, the parents could respond to open-ended questions (provided in a course workbook) to reflect upon what went well, what they could have done better, and how they could improve this type of interaction with their child, etc.  

Okay, that about wraps things up. Be sure to share this post with interested friends and colleagues using the share buttons below.


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