Soft skills are those which are relatively undervalued in the business world. However, it is easy to see that they play a vital role in any business environment. Soft skills give us the confidence to work with people and project a positive image of ourselves. When we lack soft skills, our business relationships suffer, and this affects the quality of our work and even our ability to get ahead in the workplace. Here’s how you can build these skills in your classroom.
Business English is one of the most important subjects for today’s global business environment. While the basic skills are required, it is also about communication, negotiation and presentation skills that can make all the difference in a business context. This post will look at how to incorporate soft skills into your business English classroom, so that you have a strong foundation to build on.
The soft skills that a manager brings to the table are many. These include emotional intelligence, problem solving, communication, leadership and negotiation. Soft skills are often overlooked by business English teachers. However, they are an essential part of managing a team.
Soft skills are an important aspect of the business English classroom. Soft skills help students understand the language, express themselves, and communicate effectively. In this article, we’ll look at how you can teach your students to have soft skills in their business English classes. See also, learn English.
Five essential communication skills for business students
1. Listening actively
People mistakenly think that communication is just about speaking. However, one of the best ways to be a good communicator is to listen to the person you are talking to. Learners can show interest in what someone is saying is by asking clarifying questions and rephrasing what they’ve said to make sure they’ve understood them fully. The more they listen, the easier it will be to respond. See also, listening to English is a skill.
2. Influencing others
In order to manage employees and clients effectively your students will need to be able to influence others. This can be done by building rapport, explaining why they are doing something, asking the right questions and selling themselves in a certain way.
3. Negotiating successfully
The key to closing sales, getting a good price for something, or running a happy team is the art of negotiation. Successful negotiators determine their objectives before starting, prepare fully to support their positions and always leave their emotions at home (or in the office).
4. Dealing with different communication styles
In the world of business, students will come across people who communicate differently. The three basic communication styles are aggressive, passive and assertive. They’ll need to know how to deal with these different styles if they want to succeed.
5. Speaking clearly and concisely
Students need to learn to express themselves clearly and convey their message in as few words as possible. It’s easy to ramble when you are nervous, so encourage them to think about what they want to say and maybe even make some brief notes beforehand.
How they apply these skills will depend on the issue at stake, the situation and who they’re talking to, so they will need to adjust their behaviour accordingly. The more time you spend on this in class, the easier it will become.
How does Business Partner tackle these communication skills
The third lesson in each unit is dedicated to communication skills and is aimed at introducing students to the soft skills that are needed to function in international teams and across different cultures, something which is becoming increasingly common in today’s globalized world.
The course raises students’ awareness of different communication styles to help avoid misunderstandings and so they can be more perceptive and adapt their own styles according to the audience.
All in all, The course also includes a practical component, in which students practise and discuss the different communication styles with each other.
How does Business Partner help students to develop their soft skills?
Students are introduced to a variety of exercises designed to help them understand the basic concepts of business and communicate effectively with others. They learn how to be aware of their own style and how it can affect the way they communicate, as well as learning how to adjust it to the people they’re communicating with.
They also write a personal writing assignment, in which they can discuss their own communication style and how it affects them on an interpersonal level. It’s no mean feat to get students to think deeply about themselves, so three whole lessons dedicated to this subject is more than sufficient – if you want them truly committed to improving their soft skills then spread that amount of content around as far as possible!
Above all, it’s a good idea to include a project in your unit too. Some teachers have reported that the exposure of their students to teamwork has led them (almost) willingly leap-frogged the traditional diligence practice and are now taking personal picture projects more seriously.
Putting team work into practice, For example, one student decided not only become very active on his school’s Twitter account but also made an incredibly thoughtful response when someone
asked why he wasn’t going to tweet. (Been there, done that… I don’t recommend it!):
Another student’s project involved designing his own character profile in a Myspace-style social network after hearing positive comments about how their female rivals were using this style when they put up videos of themselves online.