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Soft Skills – the most essential pre-requisite to becoming a Successful Trainer

Yes, soft skills are the essential pre-requisite of a trainer. Irrespective of the subject, a professional trainer needs to have competency in soft skills.

In fact, success as a trainer depends on domain-related skills as well as behavioral skills. What is visible from the outside are his/her attitude and his/her behavior driven by the said attitude, which together form the personality. In its raw unbiased state, the personality is driven by his/her qualities, which are driven by his virtues, and virtues are driven by his/her Value system.

Behavioural training experts suggest 6 soft skills for every hard-nosed professional including the ‘Professional Trainers’. They are -

  1. Interpersonal skills

  2. Team Spirit

  3. Social Grace

  4. Business Etiquette

  5. Negotiation Skills

  6. Behavioural Traits such as attitude, motivation, and time management

However, attitude, motivation, and time management are the most vital ones. Actually, your mastery of this behavioural trait is the master key to your success. It is always expected that Professional Trainers must have the right attitude towards training; they internally shall be highly motivated and respectful towards time – the entire curriculum needs to be completed within the scheduled time frame.

If the trainer has all these soft skills, it is good to start the journey as a professional. Otherwise, the trainer needs to get him/herself trained in soft skills to improve his/her behavioural traits.

Now the question is, “Can formal training can enhance your soft skills?” There are lots of arguments in the training industry about whether it is possible to enhance soft skills in a few hours of training, especially when one considers the fact that a person has lived with those traits all his/her life. To this, the answer is harsh but real – an aspirant professional trainer who wants to do well in his/her career does not really have a choice.

In the initial years, functional abilities are important to get some good assignments. However, when it comes to excelling as a professional trainer, it is the trainer’s personality that matters, more so in the buyer’s market where several people with similar functional skills & technical expertise will compete for getting an assignment.

Training on soft skills becomes all the more relevant and essential because we do not have it in our academic curricula and where the education system does not delve into personality development. Therefore, the trainers need to take up the task of grooming themselves, so that they are able to present themselves better.

You can always join a training program to upgrade yourselves but they are always expensive. Hence, be your own trainer! Read books. Watch YouTube videos. I have a few tips to initiate the process of self-learning:

  1. Learning/practice group: Either form some peer learning or practice group or if such groups are available at your nearby places, please join them. These groups can work in different ways. Such groups can meet at a specific interval, maybe once a month or every Saturday, etc. Group members share their learning, which usually follows a group discussion. Such groups are very much effective in improving communication skills, enhancing inter-personnel relationship building, understanding corporate etiquette, igniting thinking processes, etc. It also supports leadership development and attitude-building toward problem-solving.

  2. Book Lovers’ Club: Book is an old, authentic, and good source of knowledge. However, you have the limitation of reading numbers books. You can read at the most one or two books per month. I was a member of one such book lovers’ club, where once every month, an author or an avid book reader used to narrate the summary of a book in one hour. Usually, there used to be a discussion on the book by the members. It was like reading and understanding a book in one and a half an hour.

  3. Participative Learning: Be a part of some team activities. It could be some social activities or religious functions or sports events. By becoming part of these activities, you can observe your own behaviour in the group and how you relate to others.

  4. Learning from Feedback: Ask your family members or close friends to write down your best and worst traits. Ideally, you should have at least four to five people do this for you. Evaluate the common traits all of them have mentioned. Thus, you can be aware of your strengths and work on improving your weaknesses.

  5. Diary and Time Log: Writing a regular diary or ledger and keeping a record of your time is one of the easiest time management techniques. It helps you to identify the time wasters and manage your time better.

  6. Participants' Feed Back: There are lot of learning in it. Training delivery skills mostly come into the picture when post-training feedback is taken. Generally, on a scale of 5, if you get an average score of 4 or less, it means the participants are trying to tell you something, which so far you might not think of. Introspect how you react to feedback. Many times, your improvement depends upon the way you respond to feedback. Mentally, you conduct a ‘Root Cause Analysis’ to detect your areas of improvement. Many times, you get a low score not because you are not sound in your subject but because you have opportunities for improvement in your communication & presentation skills.

A Small Caution!

The training tools to teach systematic soft skills as elaborated here are supplementary aids. Along with changes in fundamental systems, these tools will help to bring in more polish, more discipline, and more focus. But relying only on these training tools of soft skills will only amount to bringing in superficial cosmetic changes. In such cases, the person may slip his mask occasionally if he is not alert all the time and will not be consistently successful in his endeavours. Hence, one needs to go for changes in fundamentals, that is, the architecture of the value system adopted by him/her, the brickwork of virtues that define his/her personality, and finally the qualities that are seen by the external world through his behavior.

Finally, last but not least: Though it may be easier said than done, soft skills can be enhanced simply by being aware of oneself and living consciously. Hence, switch ON your consciousness and stride ahead with this learning journey so that you become a successful trainer.

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