The Ace of Softskills 13/09/2010

The  ACE of  Soft Skills

 Attitude, Communication and Etiquette for Success

 Gopalaswamy Ramesh

 Mahadevan Ramesh

 PEARSON

 Rs. 550

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

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