“soft skills” lead us towards mediocrity, by Julia de Funès – L’Express

why the most deserving are no longer recognized at their

Since the 1970s, the soft skills gradually appear. Even in the most technical professions (financials, airline pilots, engineers, etc.) the evaluation of soft now occupies a large share. Agility, ability to manage emotions, ability to work in a team, willingness to accept conflicts are the subject of as many tests and examinations as hard skills. This shows the importance that psychological and behavioral qualities have acquired over time over purely technical skills.

Where does this valuation of soft ? Positive psychology that has been pervading our country for decades. This counter psychology never stops praising, with solar sympathy mixed with satisfied stupidity, the empire of the gentle (soft), the positive, the empathy, the benevolence, to the point of watering down reality in defiance of the requirement.

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What does this importance given to soft skills ? Has never-ending recruitment processes. After operational and management meetings, then with human resources managers, it is sometimes necessary for the candidate to take the multiple-choice questionnaire test (MCQ) aimed at identifying a personality that these tests do not manage to capture in any case. to input ! The resulting restitutions turn out to be for the most part approximate, if not worse… How do you want to understand a shimmering and nuanced singularity by the use of rigid and general categories? Not only is a character far too contingent and fluctuating to allow itself to be captured in boxes, but above all it is too singular and subjective to be objectively judged. Checking that you are dealing with a balanced and stable person is one thing (which is quickly seen), trying to dissect the twists and turns of a personality using multiple choice questions or blue, yellow and red pie charts is another! There is nothing more impersonal than these evaluations.

The door open to impostors and the incapable

More worrying, the overvaluation of soft leads to overall subsidence and widespread loss of level. “There is not only knowledge, there is also know-how”, those who love these gentle qualities like to say with penetrating insight. This primacy of interpersonal skills over knowledge goes so far today that many people prefer a pleasant coach to an unpleasant doctor, a benevolent pseudo-psychiatrist to an austere psychiatrist, a friendly dietician to a rigorous nutritionist, a tolerant substitute to a certified teacher. What does this increasingly widespread trend reveal about our times? That legitimization by technical skills no longer really holds any weight compared to legitimization by psychological or behavioral qualities. “It’s not the diploma that makes the therapist,” we hear people say (generally by those who don’t have one). Disastrous mistake which opens the door to imposters, charlatans and the incapable. To those who magically transform their theoretical poverty into behavioral advantage. For those who seek to compensate for a lack of skills with an increase in interpersonal skills. This subterfuge, that of a weakness which turns into strength, of a gap which turns into an asset, adorns its various impotences with the name of openness, empathy, emotional intelligence while leading us straight to the empire of mediocrity. Because if the soft prevails over the hardform prevails over substance, quality over competence, and a good pilot would become preferable to a good pilot… A good doctor to a good doctor… The opposite is however to be preferred for the sake of our lives and our health as a whole. .

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A quality is not a skill or a diploma, it does not in itself legitimize a practice. If the soft skills are far from being negligible, let’s not make them decisive criteria to the point of becoming a priority over experience, expertise, knowledge, know-how.

* Julia de Funès is a doctor of philosophy, author in particular of Socrates in the land of processes And (im)personal development.