At a recent university event, I had the pleasure of hearing the presenter speak on a topic I had never heard any other speaker touch on... the topic of “soft skills” and how students and the younger generation of professionals are sorely lacking the skills necessary to effectively communicate in person.

The more “seasoned” of us take for granted making small talk or sharing a conversation with fellow industry professionals or clients we may or may not have a previous relationship with. However, for the younger generation who were raised behind a screen for the most part, the interpersonal skills necessary to make a connection are greatly lacking. In the highly competitive university setting, the focus has been directed at striving to provide students with the highest level of academics possible, which is both understandable and necessary, but it has come at the price of not providing an adequate opportunity for students to develop their interpersonal skills and self confidence.

If we want to hear the thoughts and ideas of our future leaders, and most certainly we do because they are on the cutting edge of many new and exciting advances, we need to provide them with the opportunity to develop effective face-to-face communication skills. The technological mastery of the younger generation is nothing short of miraculous considering how quickly things have evolved over the past twenty years but the “back to basics” approach to communicating that involves sitting across the desk from someone and sharing thoughts and ideas needs some attention.

No doubt, universities will soon adopt requirements for students that push them toward the development of soft skills, but in the meantime, as employers and fellow industry professionals, we need to take every opportunity to pull our young leaders into conversation and welcome them to share their thoughts and ideas from somewhere other than behind a computer screen.

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