ASHA Blog: The Importance of Soft Skills

  • 1.  ASHA Blog: The Importance of Soft Skills

    Posted 05-31-2019 10:47 AM
    Have you seen ASHA's Blog on soft skills?

    "Soft skills-typically a combination of interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and personal attributes-include work ethic, professionalism, courtesy, initiative, and communication. More difficult to teach than technical skills and knowledge, these soft skills are also challenging to measure."

    I recall coming out of grad school and feeling very book smart. I was prepared with the knowledge to make a diagnosis, differentiate difference from disorder and develop a treatment plan. But, the real challenge came when I had to communicate some very challenging news, at times, to clients, students and their families. Each family that came to me had their own unique set of values, beliefs and goals. I learned a lot in grad school, but I learned most from my families. Most importantly, how to follow my client's lead and communicate in a way that was relevant and useful to them. And respecting the unique identity that they brought to the table.

    Mentors, what soft skills have you learned over the years? Any advice? Was there something that you wish that you knew before you started practicing?

    Mentees, any questions?

    As always, for 2019 S.T.E.P. Participants, if you have any questions about your mentoring, please contact us at


    ASHA S.T.E.P. Mentoring Coach

    Andrea "Deedee" Moxley
    Rockville, MD

  • 2.  RE: ASHA Blog: The Importance of Soft Skills

    Posted 05-31-2019 12:10 PM
    Being an attentive listener.  So important to listen first before speaking... and to ask both kids and adults for their view of why they were coming to see me.  Each person who is there at a therapy session or evaluation has an important and valid (and often different!) reason and their own questions to address.  I learn so much from my patients/clients and their families.

    Devida Braverman
    Speech-Language Pathologist
    Kids Therapy, Ltd
    Libertyville, IL

  • 3.  RE: ASHA Blog: The Importance of Soft Skills

    Posted 05-31-2019 12:53 PM
    I agree with Devida--listening to what my clients say, as well as how they say it--is far more important than any assessment I perform in my clinical work.
    Karen J. Kushla, ScD, CCC-A
    Florham Park, NJ

    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S8, an AT&T 5G Evolution capable smartphone

  • 4.  RE: ASHA Blog: The Importance of Soft Skills

    Posted 06-01-2019 10:35 AM
    This is a very difficult skill to teach someone. It is especially difficult if that person does not have those interpersonal skills outside of the work place. People's personalities can't really be changed. However, these "soft skills" certainly can be learned and honed with experience. Coming into each situation with an open mind, without preconceived ideas really helps!!! One more week of school! Happy summer to all of you in the school setting!!!!

    Cheryl Gooden

  • 5.  RE: ASHA Blog: The Importance of Soft Skills

    Posted 06-02-2019 08:16 AM
    The one skill that I have found most important is to listen.   Listen to your clients, their body language, tone of voice, their family members, and what is NOT being said.  

  • 6.  RE: ASHA Blog: The Importance of Soft Skills

    Posted 06-01-2019 01:54 PM
    What a great topic! I agree with everyone on its importance and that it can be taught. My undergraduate program included a course on Counseling in Speech and Hearing by Dr Schum. I see there’s a paperback still available. It taught us a variety soft skills that I have used to this day. What a gem this was!! Not everyone has these skills intuitively and those that do should hone those skills with a keen eye. It has meant I listen with my eyes and ears. I catch parental concerns much earlier. I catch myself more often: there’s nothing worse than a 3 year old pushed too far!

    Molly Thompson MSCCC-SLP
    SIG 1 Associate Coordinator
    Pediatric Speech Language Svs
    part of the Ability Group Consortium
    Anchorage, Alaska

  • 7.  RE: ASHA Blog: The Importance of Soft Skills

    Posted 06-02-2019 05:00 PM
    ​Great question and many nice replies!!! I teach a capstone class on research/professional information for the graduate students. In that class, I present many interview and job-based scenarios to discuss how one can become aware of interpersonal skills, work ethics, attitude, flexibility, adaptability, and other soft skills. I also discuss values (instrumental and terminal) to make sure the students can visualize their future career pathways. I have used many ASHA and organizational leadership-based resources. Probably, it is time to design a study to see how our students and entry-level professionals start developing their soft skills and what type of resources are useful to hone those skills.


    Jayanti Ray, PhD, CCC-SLP
    Southeast Missouri State University
    Cape Girardeau, Missouri

  • 8.  RE: ASHA Blog: The Importance of Soft Skills

    Posted 06-03-2019 08:31 AM
    I love this topic. I often hear people discuss professionalism but never the aspects within it. I specifically like the aspect of discussing flexibility, because I truly feel that is especially important in a SNF. I have had several experiences of being asked to cover a building because the other SLPs in the area just ignored the messages requesting help. As frustrating as it can be, however, my superiors always go out of their way to thank me for helping and when I do have situations where I need to fumble my own schedule (which has only happened once or twice) they are more than willing to help.

    Brittany Mikajlo
    Somers Point, NJ

  • 9.  RE: ASHA Blog: The Importance of Soft Skills

    Posted 06-03-2019 09:04 AM
    As am speech language pathologist in the public schools, one thing that I think is absolutely critical is when you're going to discuss something with a student (whether it's about the behavior during the therapy session  or possibly the production of a sound in error) it's critical to do so with just that one child in quietly! I think in order for children to, as they say "save face", it's important that their issues are discussed in an one on one setting and not in front of the whole group. That kind of a soft skill also needs to be employed with a a kind.expression and words about how hard they are working,  if behavior use direct but kind gestures and words by both identifying the incorrect behavior as well as replacement behavior so the child knows the expected way to interact.  I believe that this shows all children  a sense of fairness, a feeling of security, as well as a sense of belonging to the group yet being an individual who's needs different and knowledge it will private. There is no age restriction on HIPPA. We need to live the pragmatic skills we want our children to learn.

    Debee Tanzer
    Deerfield Beach, FL

    If there are no dogs in heaven,
    When I die, I want to go where they went!
    Mark Twain

  • 10.  RE: ASHA Blog: The Importance of Soft Skills

    Posted 06-03-2019 09:06 AM
    Sorry for word errors did this through my phone with voice not that good at that yet still best of phone calls 😁

    Debee Tanzer
    Deerfield Beach, FL

    If there are no dogs in heaven,
    When I die, I want to go where they went!
    Mark Twain

  • 11.  RE: ASHA Blog: The Importance of Soft Skills

    Posted 06-03-2019 01:12 PM
    I was 22 yo when I became an SLP and did not have a clue about the impact of different points of view that were a part of upbringing, international and regional culture, age, expectations as well as personality types.  At 22 you cannot be expected to know it all due to experience and exposure to a world that we have yet to experience.  

    I wish I had a strong mentor in my first position at that time that understood the impact of soft skills.  I did have a mentor however the focus was on clinical and and learning the basic operations of the work at hand.  As a CFY the mentoring was nil.  I felt i was in the placement to make that professional's clinical day go faster.  I was too worried about finishing, so I did not speak up.  Things were quite different back then.

    Courtesy never goes out of style and sometimes hard to come by.  It makes everything and everyone more pleasant and civil in a work environment.  The stakes are higher and higher for companies and professionals and the it seems that the priorities get muddied.  What is apparent to me is that we are nothing without our clients and through collaboration with our colleagues we are better.

    Over the years I have found the profession to be a bit isolating, alone in the  moc-office broom closet and misunderstood by other staff.  I think our profession has a long way to go in regards to educating others about our roll in education, career and healthcare.  Much has changed and much has stayed the same (schools) and hopefully we will together take it to the next level through soft skills; it matters more than realized!


  • 12.  RE: ASHA Blog: The Importance of Soft Skills

    Posted 06-06-2019 10:51 AM
    What a great topic!  Soft clinical skills are something I began to work on in graduate school due to some wonderful clinical supervisors and something I was able to experience on the receiving end in a recommended counseling course I took in undergrad. As a part of this course, I was expected to attend counseling while simultaneously learning about counseling skills (e.g. validation, body language, empathy, summarizing).  I think the coursework coupled with clinical rotations allowed me to be fairly well prepared for my CF.

    I think the greatest soft skill I've acquired is being comfortable with silence.  Silence can be scary, especially when someone looks frustrated or is crying. I've learned that sometimes all our patients need from us is a listening ear and time to process. Early in my practice in inpatient rehab, I felt the need to fill the silence due to my own discomfort, but I have found success in allowing patients to have their time to think, cry, or whatever they need to process their situation. Patients may not need our words for comfort, but sometimes need space, physical touch, or our time as a listener.

    Jennifer Mattia
    Burlington, NC