Why this is Important
Enterprises around the world are beginning to recognize that, in order to gain a competitive advantage, they need to make sure their employees have mastered people skills – how to handle themselves at work and how to relate with their customers and peers. These so-called “soft skills” are as important as the technical skills related to a job, and are an increasingly important attribute that must be taught in educational settings.
There are several national organizations that focus on public speaking and conflict management skills.
Education institutions are beginning to recognize this need and developing programs to develop these skills. For example, the Harvard Negotiation Project’s online portal is an unparalleled resource connecting the world’s top conflict resolution experts with the practitioners who most need their advice. HNP highlights emerging tools and techniques through its daily blog, and provides multiple resources including articles, reports, videos, courses, and seminars, many of which are offered free of charge. The purpose of HNP is to ensure that the latest and most innovative thinking in conflict management is available to the people practicing it on the ground every day.
The National Conflict Resolution Center offers comprehensive programs and workshops for dealing with conflict management in the workplace. Topics cover issues such as communication difficulties, how to handle different types of personalities, overcoming cultural differences, and how to effectively run meetings. The workshops focus on real-life situations, providing concrete examples so workshop participants can easily translate their new skills to the office.
Current Context in NC
The University of North Carolina Tomorrow Commission recently looked at how all 17 campuses of the UNC system should best respond to the needs of the 21st century workforce. This 28-member commission of business, education and non-profit leaders asked each campus to address how today’s college graduates can develop soft skills, work in teams and think critically.
Many other organizations promote these skills as well, including:
• Optimist Oratorical Contest
• FFA Public Speaking Competition
• FBLA Public Speaking Competition
• 4H Horse Public Speaking Competition
• NCCU Dispute Resolution Institute
• Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention: Reach In, Reach Out, Reach Over Conflict Management Pilot Program