The ACE of Soft Skills
Attitude, Communication and Etiquette for Success
What caught my attention apart from the title of the book under review is the Foreword written from the industry perspective by Ajay Chowdhry, Founder-HCL, and a second one written by Bala Balachandran, J.L.Kellog Distinguished Professor Emeritus, from the perspective of academia. Ajay Chowdhry writes, “We in the corporate sector want the students to be ‘industry ready’. By that I mean that they should be able to get into a job and be able to contribute right from day one —-they should hit the road running. That is not happening today. The main ingredient missing in the making of a perfect professional is that of non-existence of what goes by the generic term ‘soft skills’.
Mentioning about several unique things in the book, Bala Balachandran writes, ‘By covering a broad spectrum of topics relating to soft skills—a positive attitude towards oneself and towards the group, taking ownership, dealing with tough situations and so on —this book is significantly more than a quick fix ,spoken English communication guide’.
The ACE of Soft Skills which is a three in one is indeed a unique book as it deals in great detail the co relation of attitude, communication and etiquette and their importance to face challenges and achieve success in this competitive world. The several practical examples and case studies called snap shots and the cartoons thrown in are of added interest.
As a prelude to the subject, characteristics of Soft Skills, Misconception about Soft Skills, Dimension of Soft Skills, The Changing Business Environment And Its Impact On Soft Skills and What (And What Not ) is this Book About are briefly discussed. The section on Attitude is dealt in 12 parts and each begins with an apt quotation and concludes with a summary. Communication section which is the lengthiest has three parts –the first covers the basics of communication ,the second the elements of communication and the third covers the different communication scenarios.
The section on Etiquette is divided into Media etiquette, travel etiquette and miscellaneous (or other) etiquette.
Section One on Attitude begins with the heading ‘Big Picture, Pride, Passion and Process’ and the following quotation: ‘If you want to be happy for a year, win a lottery. If you want to be happy for a life time, love what you do’ sets the tone for the rest of the book. On the subject of ‘Team work and You’ we find a quotation by Ken Blanchard: ‘None of us is as smart as all of us’ which is interpreted and explained further on this page. Again on ‘Lifelong Learning’ Alvin Toffler is quoted: ‘Those who will succeed in the 21st.century are not those who can read and write, but those who can unlearn, learn and relearn, again and again’, and the authors relate the quote to the fast paced technological changes that are taking place in the business environment and offer tips to achieve effective learning. The Art of Time management is discussed elsewhere in this section and how one can learn to manage one’s time and value other’s time.
The Section on Communication starts with the basics, verbal and non verbal communication, throws light on how to write resumes, face interviews, conduct meetings and how to present bad news. Napoleon Bonaparte is quoted at the beginning on this important aspect of communication: ‘Never awaken me when you have good news to announce, because with good news nothing presses. But when you have bad news, arouse me immediately, for, then there is not an instant to be lost.’ Some key points are mentioned at the end of this Section which are very useful.
The Section on Etiquette again starts with the basics like phone and E-mail etiquette and passes on to discuss briefly: Foreign Business Trips, Visits of Foreign Counterparts, Learning to say No and the role of Humour in the Work place. ‘English Language Skills’ constitute the last part of this section where some differences in American usage of words and tips to improve one’s English are included.
The ACE of Soft Skills coming from two top notch professionals is a must read and earnestly practiced by all those who wish to make a mark in their careers.
n.meera raghavendra rao