Modern Canadian economist and management guru Henry Mintzberg believes that in the process of professional training, "disciplines such as finance, accounting, and marketing take a disproportionate amount of time due to critical soft skills – precisely those skills that distinguish the best from the worst in the world of management. The consequences of this approach are threatening – the market is full of certified young leaders who do not have real leadership qualities. Such a system is undoubtedly dysfunctional". A permanent understanding of the importance of soft skills is obvious. However, it is also obvious that the request for promising career development of a socially active subject corresponds to a situation when a certain set of soft skills is recognized as a trend: listening and understanding the interlocutor, conducting discussions, negotiating, persuasion, oratorical abilities, erudition, time management, decision-making considering cultural differences, work in the team. This article is devoted to the study of "other" soft skills. Each of the format options is filled with certain content that has different potential to influence the formation and development of the life and professional development strategy of a socially active subject.
Critical interpersonal skills that require universal socio-cultural competence and socially active actions are caused by community psychologists, sociologists, business coaches, coaches, and management consultants. For a set of specific empirical algorithms, which undoubtedly narrow the boundaries of interpersonal skills and emasculate their content. This shortcoming can make up for a deep socio-humanitarian understanding of the “otherness” of soft skills, which determines its perception. The relevance of the study of soft skills of the “first rank” is explained by the fact that the property of the property allows not only and not so much to “train the brain and emotions” but to ennoble and orient them in a complex socio-cultural space. This property is characterized by deep or fundamental skills, the presence and permanent development of intellectual literacy, existential literacy, and aesthetic literacy. The analytical value of the process of learning soft skills "second rank" is also undeniable. However, this format of practice-oriented or applied skills empirically involves business communication, project activities, and management procedures. The soft skills of the “second rank” are perceived as a framework, technological, refining, and concretizing the soft skills of the “first rank”.
In the space of socio-humanitarian knowledge, there are no studies of the legitimacy and meaning of ranking soft skills; the dyad "soft skills of the first rank – soft skills of the second rank" has not received analytical attention. Meanwhile, considering the ratio of soft skills ranks explains their role in the social positioning of an active subject. This situation motivates our cognitive interest and opens a research perspective.
The article reveals the following questions:
The format-content «otherness» of soft skills determines their status and role as a priority factor of anthropological and social strategies and practices.
Configuration of the "other" soft skills format.
Fill in the "other" soft skills content.
Purpose of the Study
The article is devoted to the following research tasks: to explicate the format-content "otherness" of soft skills and to substantiate the legitimacy of ranking "soft skills" to find their latent meaning in the process of forming the universal socio-cultural competence of a socially active subject.
The research discourse is provided, first of all, by theoretical and methodological configurations presented as a special form of analytical reflection: the phenomenology of the "lifeworld" by Berger (1986), Lukman (1995), Schutz (1973), the cognitive principles of Mamardashvili "to think something of your own about already known" (1991) and Huntington "culture matters" (Huntington & Harrison, 2002). Methodologically, the research is based on the analysis and generalization of stable cognitive and value orientations, attitudes, and ideas. The actual methodological construct for the reference of meanings also consists of the following: the principle of consistency; the principle of multifactorial formation of skills; the principle of diversity of functional representations; the principle of the dialectical complement of ranks; principles/provisions of the theory of activity and structural and functional analysis; socio-cultural approach.
More than a hundred years ago, Nietzsche expressed an idea about the cause of the cultural decline of Germany, which may seem shocking and untimely to someone. "...What gymnasiums and universities have achieved is rough training, the purpose of which is to maximally accelerate the preparation of a myriad of young people for public service, to fit them for service" (Nietzsche, 1993a, p. 94). Meanwhile, the affected problem is not spatially or temporarily local. The reason is that one-dimensional education inevitably leads to a simplified system of values, social primitivization, and "framework" thinking.
Criticism of the absolutization of self-sufficient professionalism in no way means the proclamation of dilettantism. Hypertrophied vocational training against the background of a clear narrowing of the already flawed humanitarianization of education is bad for education in general and completely unacceptable for higher education.
In the modern socio-cultural situation, the prevailing specialized-utilitarian approach to higher education is clearly observed. This trend is negative for education. Therefore, certain intellectual efforts are needed to understand its limitations: narrow professional training is a flat education/craft. The volume of education and the refinement of professionalism are provided by soft skills. The system of soft skills and specialized professional culture can create the most favorable conditions for the development of human resources in general and its specific "transformation" in a certain field of activity. The understanding of soft skills as a carrier of humanistic cultural traditions and a factor of life strategizing is "based on philosophical knowledge" (Gadamer, 1991, p. 248). This understanding gives completely different dimensions, pushing the horizons of knowledge of social reality. Understanding soft skills as a bearer of humanistic cultural traditions provides a socially active subject with flexible intellectual tools for understanding the patterns of formation and positioning of public relations and interactions, social experience, and skills with their subsequent mastery and management. But these are soft skills that are ranked and, at the same time, systemic, "other" soft skills.
Configuration of a "different" soft skills format
Soft skills of the "first rank" are not locally applied skills and abilities, but the ontological status of a socially active subject, the permanent increment of personal potential as exceeding the limits and excellences achieved by own efforts. Soft skills of the "first rank" are similar to the concept of "lifestyle" which provides for proactive, active, and responsible life creation, including in the profession, in business: intellectual literacy, existential literacy, aesthetic literacy. With this development of events, professional activity is positioned as a mission, and the person positions himself as a demiurge. "Soft skills of the first rank" are acquired in the process of mastering philosophy, logic, cultural studies, history, intellectual and elite literature, and art.
Soft skills of the "second rank" can be legitimately characterized as applied, derived from soft skills of the "first rank" and specifying, but not replacing them. Soft skills of the "second rank" are embodied in the individual's ability to public speaking, public speaking, negotiation, project management, time management, leadership, communication skills to "negotiate" and "find a common language", the use and reading of "sign language", the ability to "read" the context or situation, the ability to competently start and complete communication, the ability to listen, summarize the conversation and summarize, the ability to control yourself, cope with stressful factors, influence the emotions of others, conducting presentations and self-presentations, participation in teamwork. At the same time, professional activity acquires the status of a Function, and a socially active subject becomes a Craftsman. It should be borne in mind that the desire to give soft skills a "second rank" independent meaning is widespread among psychologists and consulting managers. However, soft skills of the "second rank" are developed in the process of various kinds of "formalized" training and coaching, often for the sake of modern fashion trends, which turns into semantic absurdity in the spirit of, for example, M.E. Saltykov-Schedrin (1965–1977):
- goal setting and motivation: "I wanted something: not the constitution, not the "sevryuzhiny" with horseradish, not to rob someone";
- self-presentation: "The young lady is asked whether to wash their neck for a large or small neckline";
- teamwork, communication: "One receives another and thinks: "With what pleasure would I throw you, the chicken's son, out of the window, if...", and the other sits and also thinks: "With what pleasure would I spit in your face, a vile wad, if...".
However, if we imagine that this "if" does not exist, what an exchange of thoughts would suddenly occur between the interlocutors!".
To avoid such "dysfunctions", it is necessary to consider the ranking/subordination of soft skills and correctly prioritize the formation of training and advisory programs.
Filling "other" soft skills content
A person lives in a multidimensional socio-cultural space. The manifestation of people's subjective being, first of all, professional, is determined by what cultural languages they speak. The philosophical language of culture concentrates on the humanistic traditions of "human reasonableness as a whole". For a socially active subject, the conceptual potential of philosophy as the ideological basis of business activity is very important. Philosophy makes it possible to actualize active efforts to make the professional process meaningful with "reasonableness". It is philosophical training that is the condition for overcoming conservatism and limitations in people's thinking.
The presence of a humanitarian (philosophical) culture is not a set of specific plots, terms, and definitions. Philosophical training is a way of analysis, a way of immersion in the wash, a way of understanding, a way of achieving intellectual aristocracy, which can provide a high level of professional efficiency based on "understandability". At the same time, humanitarian (philosophical) culture belongs to the category of such things as, for example, health: only a tangible shortage of this culture in comparison with the norm shows its value with all evidence. Humanitarian (philosophical) culture illuminates and directs the activity of the subject as potentially successful due to the following functions:
- philosophy teaches "to see", i.e., highlights and focuses on the internal unity and integrity of the socio-cultural process in its versatility and pluralistic manifestations;
- philosophy teaches "to think," i.e., philosophical training that makes up for the "lack of judgment" (Kant, 1966) and perceptions in the identity of natural and social, people and culture;
- philosophy teaches "to go beyond," i.e., it significantly expands the "space of thought" and eliminates the "blinkered" purely professional perspective of the worldview and obsequious, obliging professional behavior. Anthropological constants of humanitarian (philosophical) culture are drawn by a socially active subject from the soft skills "first rank" humanitarian resources. It seems to us that the content of these resources includes:
1. Correct thinking as a condition and marker of intellectual literacy of the subject. Correct thinking is the most important component of the cognitive sphere of consciousness – the ability to operate with information and independently produce new information. Correct thinking implies system thinking/structuring technology; strategic thinking/planning technology; critical thinking/doubt technology; liminal thinking/overestimation technology; creative thinking/design technology; implicative thinking/determinization technology; dialectical thinking/problematization technology; inductive thinking/generalization technology; deductive thinking/argumentation technology. With the presence and permanent development of correct thinking, the subject develops the composition "intuition-reason-reason", cognitive flexibility and efficiency of thinking, unconventionally, and courage in making independent decisions, the ability to prioritize, the ability to convince and obtain competitive cognitive advantages, reasoning by "results" and "processes".
2. Aesthetic taste as a condition and marker of aesthetic literacy of the subject. Aesthetic taste is the ability to perceive/ comprehend the harmony of objective beings and independently create/actualize harmony in the surrounding world. Aesthetic taste presupposes aesthetic awareness, the technology of harmonization and dimensionality, and the technology of proportion and correlation. In the presence and permanent development of aesthetic taste, the subject develops aesthetic intelligence, metaphorical / figurative-conceptual thinking, a reactive-creative approach to the world, stylishness of thinking and lifestyle.
3. Emotional intelligence as a condition and marker of existential literacy of the subject. Emotional intelligence is the ability to be impressed, surprised, and doubtful, the ability to "reassess values" and responsible goal setting. Emotional intelligence provides for axiological and ethical awareness, noble expression of emotions, possession, and management of one's own emotions and states: "The main thing is not to make others blush" (Nietzsche, 1993b, p. 104), influence on the emotions and states of others, synchronization of emotions, empathy, motivational and volitional efforts, self–motivation, needs management, strategy implementation achievements "success". With the presence and permanent development of emotional intelligence, the subject develops motivational initiative, purposefulness, and aspiration, a strategy for achieving "success", anthropological and social sensitivity, emotional stability, and sensational stability as the basis for the formation of trusting relationships and positive communication.
Thus, the ranking of soft skills, as well as the "other" format and "other" content of soft skills of the "first rank" represent their "otherness". To a large extent, soft skills ranking minimizes the influence of cultural stereotypes on a socially active subject: moral stereotypes/traps of ethos; intellectual stereotypes/traps of logos; national and confessional stereotypes/traps of ethnos; emotional stereotypes/traps of pathos; image stereotypes/traps of aesthetics.
The "omnipresence" of soft skills in the personal ontological history of a socially active subject generates a paradigm of humanitarian competencies and abilities. These competencies and abilities of people are designed to help them navigate the system of values and visual and verbal symbols. Expected results for obtaining a competitive advantage, which is possible in the process of formation and development of "other" soft skills:
- existential competencies, that is, the ability to navigate the system of values, the ability to be surprised and doubt, to show anthropo-social sensitivity, the ability to "read" visual and verbal signals, the ability to set goals, the ability to perceive and understand yourself and others as yourself in the process of interaction; the ability to recognize your true self (French philosopher Jean- Paul Sartre said that there is an "I" that we are at a certain moment because we exist, and there is an "I" that we become because we work on ourselves); the desire to self-actualize (according to the model "what is useful to oneself, at the same time benefits society"); empathy; the ability to prepare for risks and tragedies in life and enjoy life; learn to make your own decisions as a result of free responsible choice; the ability to adapt socially as the ability to appreciate not only your freedom, but also the freedom of other people; the desire to develop unique character traits in oneself; the formation of a sense of responsibility in oneself;
- aesthetic competencies, that is, the perception of the world "beyond" socio-cultural stereotypes; the ability to harmonize being; optimization of one's essential forces for self-development, filling and discovery of the creative principle in the individual; striving for creativity, constructiveness, identity; production of non-primitive, non-trivial metaphors and ideas.
As a result of the work of "other" soft skills (both "first rank" and "second rank" in unity), an unserviceable personality is formed, and, most importantly, interesting, and active, that is, a citizen: "You will have everything if you educate citizens; without this, everything, starting with the rulers of the state, will be only miserable slaves" (Rousseau, 1998, p. 189).
There is a temptation to reduce soft skills only to the "second rank", that is, to consider the competencies of people in the given parameters/stereotypes, in favor of hypertrophied sociality, conservatism/stability, stereotyping, one- or small-dimensionality. Adherents of soft skills hypertrophy of the "second rank" should remember the words of the great Kant (1966):
Lack of judgment is what is called stupidity. But even a dull and limited mind can achieve a scholarship with the help of training. But since these people cannot judge, it is not uncommon to meet very learned people who, applying their science, discover this irreparable flaw (stupidity) at every step. (p. 308)
That is, by "educating" a subject in a narrowly focused, standard way, society risks getting the "opposite effect" – not an educated, but a mediocre person with an education, a lot of mediocrity, "humanity" in the terminology of M. Heidegger (Heidegger, 1991). Social impressions ensure the validity of the assumption that such a situation has its latent benefits for management structures of different levels in almost all spheres of social life. The "people" who have a formal education, mediocre people, do not delve into the meaning of reality, uncritically make decisions "from above", are ready to follow the "party line", approve, and embody any administrative initiatives. It is possible to prevent the negative consequences coming from the formal mastery of soft skills algorithms only of the "second rank". But how do people master and form soft skills?
It is considered that soft skills training in the process of training and master classes consistently gives positive results. This process occurs because the training of "soft skills" is standardly based on the principle of priority of soft skills of the "second rank", that is, working out certain procedures as small and specific functional skills/operations (time management; presentation and self-presentation; active listening; raising a question; concluding a deal), their consolidation and demonstration the result of mastering. However, practice shows that skills are quickly mastered. However, even a slight deviation from the specified algorithm, in any case not collected at the training leads the subject to confusion. At the same time, the empirical use of soft skills demonstrates the need for generality and consistency, modeling the situation and behavior, prioritizing, and making informed choices, pluralistic decisions, and the importance of aspects. The following contradiction arises skills training is based on concreteness and fragmentation, and the formation of a systematic and complex perception and thinking of a socially active subject is required.
In connection with this conflict, it is the "other" soft skills that can minimize fragmentary and functional dependencies, subservient mediocrity and replace them with "collecting meanings" and compiling a unique Self-concept of a socially active subject, forming a cult of Personality, Spontaneity, Human in a person, that is, a socially active subject, then the personality was not professionally engaged. Such a soft skills model can ensure the development of a piercing and extensive socio-humanitarian vision, that is, vision, reflection, and understanding of the contexts of holistic existence and civilizational breakthroughs in a variety of fields of activity, therefore, the future belongs to it.
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23 December 2022
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Mullar, L. A., oglu Kuliev, F. M., Ozhereleva, O. Y., Grigoshina, L. Y., & Donev, D. D. (2022). "Other" Soft Skills: Format And Content. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization- ISCKMC 2022, vol 129. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 677-684). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2022.12.88