Best foot forward

Students, whether management or otherwise, should be able to handle all kinds of situations in college and after. For that, development of soft skills is essential.

Best foot forward

Dr Laghate feels that in this age of competition, soft skills are necessary for any student to make even a slight impression in the industry. The need becomes even more evident since students come from diverse backgrounds, whether it is geographical area, or schooling. Many students don’t have the opportunity to study in the metros, where presentation skills are paid a lot of attention. So training them in this area becomes necessary to get the students ready for their jobs and the corporate world.

She further emphasises the need for being concise and precise in communication. “Precision of expression is important, since no one has the time to deal with papers or presentations being verbose. Many times, students are given exactly 10 minutes for a presentation. If they are not precise, they will not make any headway,” she says.

In addition to what Dr Laghate mentions, here exist several deficiencies in the manner in which students generally present themselves. Apart from being weak at decision making, they are unable to talk fluently in English. They either use slang, or Twitter language, or there are serious lapses in their language skills. Even the way they talk, they are seriously lacking. They are either too aggressive, or too submissive and diffident. They need to be taught that they need to have an even tone while in discussion with others. They need to develop a habit of making objective points in a persuasive style.

The above can be possible when there is a consistent effort to raise their level of self-esteem and confidence. According to my experience, it is possible to practice communicating in a particular language.

For that purpose, many institutes are looking into inculcating these skills in their students from the start. Students work under the guidance and supervision of instructors. Under the instructor-led process, students can practice their skills and polish them with particular and pointed feedback.

While working in a particular language, written skills are equally important. “Many times, students’ written presentations suffer from the use of inappropriate tones, and sometimes the quality of language is so poor, it is a pitiable situation. There have been innumerable such instances where students have been unable to write a decent letter of application. What these students need is constant practice and individual feedback to help improve the situation,” says communications trainer Zarina Poonawala.

Another skill that management students need to develop is the skill of working together. Cooperation is very essential when working with a group at work. It is a critical skill to have in the corporate sector, which also invests a great deal in team-building activities. Unfortunately, by the time students enter a postgraduate course, they have been through such competitive rat races that there exists a dog-eat-dog policy among all of them. Creating the opportunities for students to develop these skills is essential, since students need guidance on it. “In my experience, I know that change is possible, but the degree of the change depends on the person. However, as educators, we must try,” ends Dr Laghate.

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