Skills like shooting and control tactics are often referred to as hard skills while skills like emotional intelligence, active listening, empathy, mindfulness, and compassion are referred to as soft skills.
I am not sure about the origin of the terms soft and hard skills, but I wish we would drop them from our vocabulary. The skills referred to as “soft” are actually really hard to master. It can be far easier to teach a new recruit how to shoot and do a straight armbar takedown, than to teach them to be mindful and actually listen while seeking to understand the messages being communicated by another human being.
Having emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion do not make you soft. Being mindful, a good listener and an effective communicator do not make you soft. They do however; make you safer and more effective as a law enforcement professional.
Words have power and labels can get in the way of learning, embracing and understanding the importance and relevance of new skills. These are all critical skills necessary to be effective as a law enforcement professional, trainer and leader. So lets stop trying to separate and label them as either soft or hard. Instead, let’s weave them together and teach them as interconnected tools of the trade, necessary to becoming a master craftsman.
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