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Nick Hindley

Norfolk County Council

Global Learning and Development Manager

Read more from Nick Hindley

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Soft skills development using remote learning?


Hello, I am interested to hear from anyone out there who has had some success in developing new soft skills using remote learning such as WebEx, virtual worlds etc. I.e. anyting short of face to face classroom or video conference which I currently use. .

I have used all of these methods and they usually achieve good learning for individuals in terms of understanding concepts and knowledge but for basic soft skills such as influencing and negotiation they still seem to fall short in providing the confidence for attendees to apply to real situations after the training.

In comparison there is a high rate of successful application of skills after a face to face classroom. 

With communicaitons skills such as active listening I have noticed that even following a good practical application in a workshop over the telephone there is still a vey low application when people need to use their new skill for real.  This makes some sense in that active listening is much easier when you have a full range of sensory evidence to work with rather than just voice. Whilst the voice does have many characteristics these seem to be  much harder to track and notice for most people.     

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.


4 Responses

  1. Serious Games

    Hi Nick

    First thing I thought of was Serious Games. I went to a conference last year and saw examples of a wide range of learning applications.

    Not exactly soft skills but here are some examples of Serious Games I had on my desk top.

    University of Warwick are doing lots of research so maybe worth an e mail?

    Will be interested to see what other replies you get.





    PS: Also found this

    Serious games offer a relatively low cost, highly engaging alternative to traditional forms of soft skills training. The current paper describes an approach taken to designing a serious game for the training of soft skills. A tabletop prototype of the game was created and evaluated with a group of 24 participants. Initial findings suggest that the game successfully created an environment in which it was advantageous to engage in appropriate collaborative decision making behaviors, as well as providing built-in opportunities for a tutor to guide under-performing groups.

  2. Training via Teleclasses and telephone coaching


    I’ve done much of my recent development in coaching skills with the Neuroleadership Group, who run many of its programmes via weekly 90 minute telephone classes.  There are also full manuals for each programme, and participants read each module ahead of the call.  This means that much of the call can be spent in interaction and also in coaching practice / role playing with feedback afterwards.  In between the calls, participants will buddy up for telephone homework which often involves applying the learning through co-coaching.  This approach works extremely well in building the soft skills required for coaching.

    Since training with them, I have done the majority of my own coaching over the phone.  While I was sceptical at first and believed that face-to-face would provide much more information, I have now come to the conclusion that I find I hear and notice more when on the phone because it minimises distractions – I feel better able to give full attention to noticing both verbal and non-verbal cues.  One thing I have noticed is that I often have my eyes closed when telephone coaching which helps my listening – something I’ve never done in face-to-face.   

    So I do think there is a lot of power in soft skills training remotely using the telephone.



  3. Remote soft skills training

    Hi Jane, thanks for such a comprehensive answer. I recognise the techniques you use when coaching over the phone, the buddying especially increases the level of interaction and motivation. I am wondering how well this might work with subjects like negotiation and influencing where effective responses are often dependant on subtle viisual cues? I’ll run some pilots and see how they go?

    Many thaks again, Nick.    

  4. soft skills training

    Check out they now have an online course



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Nick Hindley

Global Learning and Development Manager

Read more from Nick Hindley

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