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Listening

The receiving, retaining and processing of information or ideas
This skill is all about being able to effectively receive information - whether it comes from customers, colleagues or stakeholders.

Initially, the skill steps concentrate on being able to listen effectively to others - including remembering short instructions, understanding why others are communication and recording important information.

Individuals then focus on how they demonstrate that they are listening effectively, thinking about body language, open questioning and summarising and rephrasing.

Beyond that, the focus is on being aware of how they might be being influenced by a speaker, through tone and language.

The final steps are about critical listening - comparing perspectives, identifying biases, evaluating ideas and being objective.

Speaking

The oral transmission of information or ideas
This skill is all about how to communicate effectively with others, being mindful of whether they are talking to customers, colleagues or other stakeholders and in different settings.

Initially, this skill focuses on being able to speak clearly - first with well known individuals and small groups and then with those who are not known.

The next stage is about being an effective speaker by making points logically, by thinking about what listeners already know and using appropriate language, tone and gesture.

Beyond that, individuals focus on speaking engagingly through use of facts and examples, visual aids, and their expression and gesture.

Beyond that stage, speakers will be adaptive to the response of their listeners and ready for different scenarios. The final steps focus on speaking influentially - using structure, examples, facts and vision to persuade listeners.

Problem Solving

The ability to find a solution to a situation or challenge
This skill focuses on how to solve problems, recognising that while part of Problem Solving is technical know-how and experience, there are also transferable tools that individuals can develop and use.

The first steps focus on being able to follow instructions to complete tasks, seeking help and extra information if needed. The next stage focuses on being able to explore problems by creating and assessing different potential solutions. This includes more complex problems, without a simple technical solution.

Beyond this, the focus is on exploring complex solutions - thinking about causes and effects, generating options, and evaluating those options. This extends into analysis using logical reasoning and hypotheses.

Finally, individuals implement strategic plans to solve complex problems, assess their success, and draw out learning for the future.

Creativity

The use of imagination and the generation of new ideas
Creativity is the complement to Problem Solving, and is about generating innovations or ideas which can then be honed through the problem-solving process.

The first few steps focus on the individual's confidence in imagining different situations and sharing their ideas.

The focus is then on generating ideas - using a clear brief, making improvements to something that already exists and combining concepts.

Individuals then apply creativity in the context of their work and their wider life. They can build off this to develop ideas using tools like mind mapping, questioning, and considering different perspectives.

The most advanced steps focus on building effective innovation in group settings and by seeking out varied experiences and stimuli. Finally, individuals support others to innovate, by sharing tools, identifying the right tools for the situation and through coaching.

Staying Positive

The ability to use tactics and strategies to overcome setbacks and achieve goals
This skill is all about individuals being equipped to manage their emotions effectively and being able to remain motivated, and ultimately to motivate others, even when facing setbacks.

The early steps focus on identifying emotions - particularly feeling positive or negative. Building off that is the ability to keep trying - and then staying calm, thinking about what went wrong, and trying to cheer up and encourage others.

The focus then turns to identifying new opportunities in difficult situations, sharing those, and adapting or creating plans accordingly. At more advanced steps, individuals identify and manage risks and gains in opportunities.

Finally, individuals support others to stay positive by managing their own response, helping others to see opportunities and creating plans to achieve them.

Aiming High

The ability to set clear, tangible goals and devise a robust route to achieving them
This skill is about being able to plan effectively - both to achieve organisational goals, and also to set their own personal development targets. Initially, this is about knowing when something is too difficult, and having a sense of what doing well looks like for an individual.

The focus is then about working with care and attention, taking pride in success and having a positive approach to new challenges. Building on this, individuals set goals for themselves, informed by an understanding of what is needed, and then be able to order and prioritise tasks, secure resources and involve others effectively.

At the higher steps, the focus is creating plans informed by an individual's skill set, with clear targets, and building on external views. At the most advanced level, individuals develop long-term strategies. These are informed by an assessment of internal and external factors, structured through regular milestones and feedback loops.

Leadership

Supporting, encouraging and developing others to achieve a shared goal
This skill is relevant not only for individuals in positions of management with formal power, but also for individuals working with peers in teams.

At the earliest stages, the focus is on basic empathy - understanding their own feelings, being able to share them, and recognising the feelings of others. The focus is on managing - dividing up tasks, managing time and sharing resources, managing group discussions and dealing with disagreements.

Beyond that, individuals build their awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses, and those of their teams. This allows them to allocate tasks effectively. They then build techniques to mentor, coach and motivate others. At the highest steps, individuals will be able to reflect on their own leadership style and understand its effect on others.

Ultimately, they should be able to build on their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses, and adapt their leadership style to the situation.

Teamwork

Working cooperatively with others towards achieving a shared goal
This skill applies to working within both formal and informal teams, and also with customers, clients or other stakeholders. Initially, this is about individuals fulfilling expectations around being positive, behaving appropriately, being timely and reliable and taking responsibility. This extends to understanding and respecting diversity of others' cultures, beliefs and backgrounds.

The next steps focus on making a contribution to a team through group decision making recognising the value of others' ideas and encourage others to contribute too.Beyond that, individuals improve their teams through managing conflict and building relationships beyond the immediate team. At the top steps, individuals focus on how they influence their team through suggesting improvements and learning lessons from setbacks.

Ultimately, individuals support the team by evaluating others strengths and weaknesses and bringing in external expertise and relationships.

To achieve Step 0, individuals will need to be able to identify their feelings about something – whether positive or negative. 

This is the first step for Leadership and focuses on building empathy as an essential foundation for being able to lead others.

Building blocks

The building blocks of this step are learning:

  • What different emotions might look and feel like 
  • Positive emotions and what might cause them
  • Negative emotions and what might cause them

Reflection questions

  • What are different emotions? 
  • When do you feel different emotions?
  • Can you give examples of what has caused different emotions for you?

What you need to know

Different emotions

An emotion is a strong feeling that is caused by something that is happening. There are broadly two different types of emotions:

  • Positive emotions: These emotions make us feel good, and that we want to continue to feel like this. We might describe ourselves as being happy, excited or calm.
  • Negative emotions: These emotions make us feel bad, and we want to stop feeling like this. We might describe ourselves as feeling sad, angry or scared.

Lots of different things cause our emotions, and there are lots of them.

-

Positive emotions

Happy:

  • Joy
  • Grateful
  • Optimistic 

Excited: 

  • Amused
  • Energetic 
  • Inspired

Calm:

  • Kind
  • Loving 
  • Relaxed
-

Negative emotions

Sad:

  • Disappointed 
  • Tired
  • Fed up

Angry:

  • Irritated 
  • Angry
  • Upset

Scared: 

  • Nervous
  • Anxious
  • Frightened
-

Positive emotional responses

An emotional response is how we feel about something that has happened. We often have an emotional response before you we have time to think about what has happened fully – people sometimes call this our ‘gut reaction’ to what has happened.

If you think something is a good thing, you will typically have a positive emotional response.

Positive emotions

What might cause you to feel like this 

Happy:

  • Joy
  • Grateful
  • Optimistic 

Getting good news or getting positive feedback where someone tells you have done something well.  

Excited: 

  • Amused
  • Energetic 
  • Inspired

When you are enjoying something, or you think that something good is going to happen soon. 

Calm:

  • Kind
  • Loving 
  • Relaxed 

Knowing that everything is alright and that you don’t need to worry about it.  

-

Negative emotional responses

If something is a bad thing, you will typically have a negative emotional response:

Negative emotions

What might cause you to feel like this 

Sad:

  • Disappointed 
  • Tired
  • Fed up

This is usually caused by bad news, something going wrong or getting some negative feedback from someone. 

Angry:

  • Irritated 
  • Angry
  • Upset

This is typically caused by feeling that something has been unfair or someone has been rude or aggressive to you. 

Scared: 

  • Nervous
  • Anxious
  • Frightened

This is generally caused by uncertainty or the feeling that something terrible is going to happen in the future. 

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Advice for

Educators

Teaching it

To teach this step:

  • The teacher can introduce a discussion about emotions, and what some of the different emotions are that a learner might feel. 
  • Learners can contribute their ideas of what some of the different emotions are that they might feel at different times, and the teacher can help to organise those ideas into the broad groups suggested:
  • Positive emotions: happy; excited; calm
  • Negative emotions: sad; angry; scared 
  • The teacher can then facilitate a discussion of when learners have felt different emotions and how they knew that is what they were feeling. 

Reinforcing it

This step can be effectively reinforced through learning. It might be helpful to have a visual reminder of the different emotions up in the classroom, and learners could be encouraged to stop and reflect on how they are feeling at different times.

The key at this stage is to help learners to recognise and be able to name the emotions that they are feeling in response to different things. 

Assessing it 

This step is best assessed through discussion with learners and asking them to share how they feel at different points or in reaction to different ideas.

Build this step

Advice for

Employers

Build it at work: 

This step is relevant to all individuals at work.

To build this step in the work environment, managers could:

  • Explain to an individual why it is important to identify the emotions they are feeling. A manager might make the point that in the workplace we are expected to empathise with others; in order to empathise with others, we must first be able to know how we feel.
  • Model to an individual some of the emotional responses they associate with situations they encounter in the workplace. A manager might categorise these into ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ emotional responses. 
  • Task the individual to keep a learning journal for twelve weeks. In this learning journal an individual should capture how they are feeling at different points.
  • Reflect with the individual on moments when they have found it difficult to identify how they are feeling. A manager might refer here to entries the individual has made in their learning journal.

Practising it:

There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:

  • Working with colleagues:  When working with different people or tasks, or when things happen around us we are likely to have an emotional response. 
  • Working with customers or clients: When we are interacting with customers or clients, and delivering what we have promised to them.

Reviewing it:

For those already employed, this step is can be assessed through discussion in regular check-ins or line management meetings. 

Spotting it in recruitment: 

During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by:

  • Observing an individual as they take part in an assessed group exercise where ideas are discussed. After taking part, the individual could have a reflective conversation with an observer where they could be asked to describe how they felt at key points during the exercise. Evidence of this skill step can be found in the individual describing what their emotions were.

Build this step

Advice for

Organisations

We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.

We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:

  • Tools for self-reflection
  • Materials to support you to teach the skills, if appropriate in your setting
  • Reward systems like printable certificates

We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.

More resources

Advice for

Individuals

Why this skill step matters in education

During a day in education, our emotional response to people and things is likely to change and at different times we may at times feel sad, happy or even angry. The way we feel, whether it is positive emotion or a negative one, will have an impact on how we act. It may be very difficult to concentrate on our learning when we are very excited about something and it may be difficult to enjoy time with friends when we are very angry.

How we feel has an impact on how we learn. Some negative and even positive emotions can make it very difficult to concentrate. It is therefore very important to recognise how we feel and to be able to give that feeling a name.

Why this skill step matters in the workplace

Whether we work on our own, or with others and in an office, a factory or shop, everyone who is working is likely to complete a number of tasks and talk to other people during their day. How we feel will affect how we work and communicate with others. Some emotions may make it difficult to be positive with others. It is important to recognise whether you feel a positive or negative emotion and then to give that emotion a name. To understand the effect we may be having on others, we need to be able to recognise and name how we feel.

Why this skill step matters in wider life

At different times of the day and in particular situations we may feel a more positive or negative emotion. Before going to a party, we may feel very excited. Minutes before we have to get out of the swimming pool, we may feel unhappy or even a little cross. How we feel is likely to affect how we behave. In order to behave well towards others and to achieve the things we want to do,it is important to recognise how we feel. To recognise the positive or negative emotion and be able to name how we feel, is the first step to being able to control our behaviour amongst other people.

How to practise this skill step

To best practise this step of Leadership, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!

  • Keep a chart for a week and write or draw how you are feeling at different times of the day. Perhaps, how you feel when you get up in the morning, get home at the end of the day or even at lunchtime.
  • Make a poster to include a picture of your favourite positive emotion and write something to remind you of how good you feel.
  • Send an email to a friend or relation, or phone them, to explain something that happened to you and how it made you feel. It could be a positive or negative feeling.
  • Can you find someone in a story or film who was feeling sad or unhappy? Think about why they felt this emotion.
  • Can you think of someone in a book or film who was feeling a positive emotion? Think about why they were feeling like this.

Build this step

Advice for

Parents & Carers

As a parent or carer, you might be thinking about how best to support your children to build their essential skills. The good news is that there is lots that you can do that will have a big impact, including:

  • Talking about how you use these skill steps in your own life
  • Trying to show how to use the skill steps, and explaining why you are doing what you are doing
  • Praising your children when they show they are using the skills well, and help them to see that as a worthwhile achievement

We’ve developed a whole series of tools and resources to help parents to build these skills, including:

  • Skill stories for the youngest children (aged 3+)
  • Short activities that you can complete together
  • Regular challenges that you can complete at home to build the essential skills
  • Reward systems like printable certificates and badges

There is also content for older children and young people, including short activities and reflections that they can complete alone, or with you.

Build this step