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What Are Soft Skills?

When Red first heard the phrase "soft skills" she didn't know what it meant. So, Black explained that it was a term used to describe essential skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, communications, and conflict management (vs."hard skills" which refer to tangible and technical skills). Black then mentioned that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) often refers to them as "21st Century Skills" – sarcastically adding how she's old enough to remember they were important in the 20th Century, too.

The soft skill topics list below are important for students ranging from middle school to adult education, as well as all employees. That's why we included them in ALL of our Career and Technical Education curricula. What's more, unlike more traditional curricula, they've been developed to allow students to see the relevancy of each topic and how these skills are transferable – between their personal lives and the workforce, and from industry-to-industry.

But don't believe us, check out a few samples! We've linked the high school versions of Money & Math, Motivational Interviewing (Red's favorite because of the worksheet), and Teamwork and hope they'll give you a better feel for our approach.

  1. Introduction Of Red & Black … And Life's Detours
  2. Appearances
  3. Career Opportunities
  4. Communications
  5. Conflict Management
  6. Constructive Feedback
  7. Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  8. Diversity
  9. Education
  10. Employability Skills
  11. Intellectual Property
  12. Interpersonal Studies
  13. Leadership
  14. Money & Math
  15. Motivational Interviewing
  16. Negotiating
  17. Policies & Procedures
  18. Project Management
  19. Relationships
  20. Resume & Professional Portfolio
  21. Rights Of Employees & Responsibilities Of Employers
  22. Safety
  23. Teamwork
  24. Technology
  25. Values & Priorities
  26. Vocabulary
Photo courtesy of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Some things should never be forgotten. That’s why tomorrow’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day was created by the United Nations to mark the unspeakable horror of the Nazi’s genocide of over six million Jews. An event beyond comprehension, which makes us wonder why many U.S. states don’t require students learn about the horrors of the Holocaust. How can we prevent atrocities from happening again if we don’t understand how they happened before? And as we see heartbreaking images from Ukraine, it reminds us of Holocaust images, and that evil will always be evil …

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Shoes. Seemingly endless shoes. That’s all I can think about.


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I know you cannot be talking about my closet.


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Far from it! It’s an image that’s forever burned in my memory. A pile of shoes, each one representing a life lost. Each one a story onto itself. Each one proof of something we should never forget.


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Normally, I would ask you to tell me what you are talking about or accuse you of being overly dramatic. But, not this time.
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Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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If you had to live without hugs … would that make you sad or glad?

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: How can something as simple as a hug elicit such incredibly different reactions; while it’s not surprising that Red thinks about hugs very differently than Black, it’s very surprising which one of them is supported by science.

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