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Difference between soft-skills and behavioral training

So often have we come across these two words used inconspicuously and interchangeably, still we seem to clearly get the message across what the other person is talking about. The reality is that we ourselves have not contemplated much about it. However there indeed is a lot of difference between the two, which we many times do not realize while using these two words sporadically between conversation. A normal search on google will fetch millions of results if you use soft skills training as a keyword, not so many if you search behavioral training. The reason is quite obvious, majority of us mistakenly tend call all non-technical, non-functional competency based training as soft skills training.


Let us take an example, I had met a service adviser while getting my car serviced at one of the authorized service network of my car manufacturer. Unfortunately the service adviser was not very receptive to all the problems I was facing with my new car which was hardly 6 months old. He however was not even listening attentively to my problems to find out the underlying problem, this can be attributed to his busy schedule and inability to manage time efficiently . Result, a very dissatisfied customer coming out with not so good experience, which in long term could be detrimental to the brand image of the car manufacturer.


Let us now assume that we are the the renowned car manufacturer and want to make sure these incidents do not happen again at the service center. We therefore chose arrange for an intervention.


1. The person goes through a training in customer service, where he is given the training on customer orientation, the process that he needs to follow and told about the best practices and let him do some role plays, other activities and simulations and share learning. Well, here we go; let's call it a soft skills training.


Why? because we are teaching and building skills which is his ability to do a certain work and telling him what to do. We are not changing his experience or allowing to self reflect as to what is the best behavior in the given context. It still can get our work done if he follows what he has just been trained to do.


2. He is in the second case evaluated for his disposition towards a certain behavior and now exposed to different situations to let him realize what certain behavior can do to the organization and self and provide him a framework how he can overcome such situation which might be detrimental to the organization and self, but all through shaking his earlier not so productive behavior which must have been caused due to exposure to a certain experience. Now we know that we can call it behavioral training. Here we are trying to shake his earlier belief to foster certain behavior which is much more productive for the individual and organization as a whole and would also lead to great customer experience.


Both kind of intervention have their own implementation and definitive objective that is to be achieved. For establishing as to which would work in a certain organizational context would need a deep analysis of what we want to achieve, why do we want to achieve and by when do we want to achieve. the how can they come out, which could be either of them.


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