As a career coach working with multi-potential clients ranging from first time job-seekers to corporate executives, I’m astounded by the power of one person’s capacity to derail meaningful and productive work for other individuals in their workplace. So many highly productive professionals leave their employer because of the toxic environment produced when “soft”skills are missing, especially when the person is your boss.

Today, we describe the skills of respect, honesty and integrity as something, “soft”.


This adjective desperately needs re-branding.

The word “soft” contains a plethora of possible meaning but none encompass the intangible character traits of respect, honesty and integrity underpinning healthy workplace behavior.

There is one obvious skill-set employers seek in a potential hire, the employability skills or “what” a person brings to the table such as core competencies, educational achievements and proven experience.

The second set of skills carry greater weight and is the sustainability or “how” we do our work such as the core abilities of self-management and healthy interpersonal interactions.

For the vast majority of people who resign from their position, it isn’t the role they walk away from but rather the person or persons around them creating intolerable stress.

This is why you can love what you do, but hate your job.

The root of many workplace issues is the deficiency of what we’ve labeled “soft” skills and the consequences can be dire for retaining top talent and increasing the company’s bottom line.

Until we re-brand “soft”skills as “sustainable”skills our future workforce will consider the most imperative skill-set as optional.

Simply put, sustainability skills or a lack thereof have a far reaching impact on the workplace.


The ability to sustain your job while ensuring the well-being of others around you is anything but soft.

Can we please re-brand this adjective?

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The Elephant in the Workplace

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