Technical vs. Adaptive Skills

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In the last 6 months, I have been facilitating a training called Insights Discovery. I have helped in profiling 100+ participants so far and have found this a very useful instrument for self awareness, and also on interpersonal awareness. Similar to MBTI, Insights also uses Carl Jung’s phenomenal work on – psychological types.  But the crux of this training is – a simple common language to understand the differences in preferences of people to communicate very effectively. Also a year and half back, my manager suggested me to attend a training called Crucial Conversations offered by Vital Smarts. The training was a 2 day course. This training focuses on how to handle conversation with high stakes / emotions involved.  And many more trainings we keep evaluating as part of my profession.
The key challenge I see in these trainings – The participants at the end of the training walk away with the feeling– what is so tough concepts did we learn today. In my previous profession it was a contrast -  we used to attend a lot of technical trainings, DBA crash course – where we spend hours going through technical information, manual, some hands on coding. I used to feel really complex / deep technical stuff I learnt from those. But all the trainings in my current profession mostly or exactly opposite. It took some time to get a grasp of the key difference between the two categories of skills we are acquiring in the trainings.
There are two types of skills – Technical skills – Likes of the coding, DBA trainings etc. are focused on those. These trainings are tough to acquire skills – complex info – but once acquired easy to implement and see results immediately. But the second set of skill – Adaptive Skills – Likes of Interpersonal awareness, handling high stakes communication etc. – Very easy to understand the concepts – but not so easy to implement and use in our life. After attending a communication training you don’t become great communicators immediately. May be you never used the takeaways from the training from your training. Because this involves something called as Behavioral Change. This is what social scientist  & Behavioral economists like Senthil Mullainathan calls as Last mile problem.
Changing behavior is the toughest problem – and this is that challenges in the adaptive skills training. So in my trainings the first 10-15 minutes I do something called myth bursting for the participants. Where I spend considerable time on explaining this last mile problem and really excite them with the biggest challenge in life is not acquiring technical competency but in gaining these adaptive skills and use them in life leading to behavioral change.
I am loving this part in the profession which is kind of challenging – make the most brightest mind in the country to sit through these trainings. I had been facilitating to Insights to some pretty senior folks who were part of writing kernel of most popular operating systems in the planet.  Just scribbled this thoughts last week after I finished one of my facilitation session.

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