When Pope Francis apologised for trying to free his hand from the clutches of a woman who shockingly grabbed his hand and pulled, the world cheered him. An article in The Guardian called it an example that might teach other public figures to be contrite. Pope has been applauded for not mincing words in his much-hyped new year apology and accepting that it was normal human behaviour both before and after. This is a great lesson in Emotional Intelligence. It brings to the fore, manifold revelations about human physiognomy. It shows that we all have a responsibility to correct our behaviour not just for the fear of being judged but in the interest of human goodness. most problems would disappear if we follow the Pope’s example – just say heartfelt “sorry” to the ones we have hurt in the past.
To reach Pope Francis’ level of emotional maturity is no easy task. Many would argue that it’s his job to set the best example of humility, patience, courage and compassion and hence an apology had to follow. For any other human being in a similar situation, if your personal space is threatened like being held by hand and pulled, you have all the right to shove them away and never ever have to apologize. But there are other instances where people offend others but cannot gather enough courage to apologize or simply do not care. Situations maybe different but the need and urgency to apologize remains the same and commonly seen in innumerable small instances everyday.
Can we teach people the simple rule of saying sorry without much fussing over it? Why do people not apologise in the first place, if they have done wrong?
Actually, why stop at saying sorry? Let’s revisit the ‘sorry, thank you, please, excuse me’ quartet and rebuild habits as children are taught in schools. But the analogy ends here.
Children learn social etiquette at an early age and start practicing with consistent reminding from parents and teachers until it forms a habit to say the golden words every time they are in order. Whereas when adults are asked to follow the same rules, insistence does not suffice. Adult minds respond well when the theory of “emotional intelligence” is used to logically explain the implications of very small positive deeds and their big impacts on the psychology of people around them; they are more likely to make an effort towards building simple good habits. No matter how trivial this sounds but it forms the basis of learning all other soft skills and effectuating behavioural changes in adults. Emotionally Intelligent adults receive great benefits from soft skills, such as high productivity and an upward career graph. They develop a skillset that is in great demand at present. 1)High Self Esteem 2)Problem solving skills 3)Critical Thinking 4)Conflict Resolution 4)Good Communication Skills 5)Service Orientation 6)Leadership – are rated highly desirable in several studies e.g. World Economic Forum’s Future OF Jobs Report 2019 , Skill India Report 2019 and Udemy Data 2020.
Currently tremendous efforts are being made by all HEIs to match up with industry expectations of skilled workforce. During the academic year 2019-20, we conducted training programmes for students and teaching faculty across the disciplines of Management, Engineering, Medical Science, Library Science and Pure Academics (Economics) on topics related to soft skills. Some good practices adopted by these departments and colleges to teach soft skills and enhance their Employability Quotient (EmpQ) are already yielding good results
- Corporate Initiative: Tata Consultancy Services Initiative is an AICTE supported platform that offers a comprehensive course catalogue for different levels of learning at affordable prices. But measuring effectiveness in terms of of behavioural changes is challenging in online format. While soft skills are at play in interpersonal spaces, human interactions proves to be a more effective teaching method.
- Syllabus Coverage: Knowledge, skill and attitude related to soft skills are tested and evaluated along with final exam of the core subjects. Students benefit more from case studies, internship programmes and field visits.
- Industry Collaboration: Industry experts have field experience but soft skills are often lost in subject expertise and students do not benefit as much.
- In-house Training: Training and placement cells are doing a great job by scheduling and deciding topics and then assigning to guest speakers selectively. But if there is a gap between the talk and the walk, students are not motivated to adopt practices.
- Full Time Faculty: Dedicated faculty for Soft Skill Training is the best option to get high ROI. Structured annual programme is always better than intermittent training schedules.
- Soft Skill Experts: Outsourcing training programmes to freelancer Image Consultants and Soft Skill Trainers brings in all the good elements of structured trainings with up-to-date knowledge, skills and attitude.
There is still room for improvement. Industry is moving much faster than imagined by academia. Every year we have amended lists of skills in-demand, in fact during the time interval between a survey and publication of its report, new skillset would have emerged. Pace of technological advancement is the chief force behind accelerated change. Speed of change in academics has to catch up fast and concentrate on relevance to productivity. Here is a list of pointers to think about ways to cope with a future not far from now.
ENHANCING ENHANCEMENT PROGRAMMES
- Delink English from Etiquette. Soft Skill and Etiquette education is different from English Language education. Authorities need to understand this and make necessary amendments to hiring policies of faculty meant to teach such courses.
- Dedicate a section/paper in the syllabus to Personal Excellence for real benefit
- Declutter the existing list of Soft Skills. It is changing every year, hence make it a policy to revisit your training programmes annually.
- Decentralize by taking experts on board for their advice on latest market trends to retain your students’ EmpQ
- Demonstrate behavioural expertise through your teaching faculty to garner confidence in your students. Start with training faculty members to be the role models for the students.
- Deglamourize Appearance Management because taking good care of oneself is not the same as wearing fancy expensive clothes, hairstyle or makeup. It is about good hygiene, neat look, pleasant body language and polite conversations.
- Determination to get positive results not only in terms of placement numbers but effectuating real life behavioural changes for good.
To deliver our young generation from the perils of redundancy, mediocrity and frustration, this is the time to increase our speed of change by multifold. We don’t have enough time to waste on mulling over age old practices – they have to quickly make way for the new order. Positive Behaviour, Etiquette, Thinking skills and Emotional Intelligence will not arrive automatically. We need to bring them in by educating every student enrolled in a college in aspects of personal growth in formal setting with resources available around us. India has no dearth of expertise; efforts to identify and utilize them for the maximum gain in the interest of general goodness may sometimes need a forceful pitch though.
“Small Differences In Worker Skills Create Large Differences In Productivity & Wages”