“Soft” No More…..

A recent letter to the editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Daily Briefing” complains that the term soft skills sounds sexist and devalues the humanities” (May 30th online).  

Fear not.  Help has arrived.

Here are three phrases that are replacing “soft skills” at colleges and universities around the country.

Cashmere CompetenceThis graceful wording has officially unseated “soft skills” in the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.  According to Wharton’s Dean, Erika James, cashmere conveys a sense of softness without any connotations of weakness.  It’s sleek.  It’s luxurious.  It rocks.  And you can never go wrong with competence.  In the business world, it’s what we call a ‘sturdy word’.”

“How You Doin’?” Proficiency — Widely used at New York University in honor of iconic “Friends” character Joey Tribbiani.  As NYU President Andrew D. Hamilton observes, “there were few women who could resist the smooth, silken appeal of Mr. Tribbiani’s greeting.  We want our graduates to be just as interpersonally successful in THEIR careers.  Every conversation in the workplace should begin with How You Doin’?

Non-Anal AttitudeLet’s be honest.  The bulk of one’s interactional prowess is simply the result of not acting like an a**hole.  Florida State University is attempting to explicitly focus students on this reality.  “We’re tired of graduating sphincter after sphincter,” says FSU President Richard McCullough.  “If this shift in language can help us achieve that, I’m all for it.”

“Soft skills,” your days are numbered.