Escape rooms are a microcosm of the real world — they reveal hidden truths about people’s personalities and interpersonal relationships. That’s why we can’t emphasize enough the importance of soft skills in an escape room. As Ann Kowal Smith pointed out in Forbes, “[…]‘soft’ is a bad moniker because it makes these skills seem easy, or dispensable.” (Smith, 2023) The truth is soft skills are anything but dispensable, and just as you need them in your day-to-day life, you need them when you play an escape room.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are very similar to people skills. They are your ability to communicate, listen, and think critically and analytically; they affect your work ethic, you leadership capabilities, and how well you can work within a team. You, as a functioning member of society, passively use soft skills daily without realizing that you’re using them, but it’s important to stay aware. There are certain times when it’s important to keep soft skills at the top of your mind and to exercise them actively. We’ve already published blogs about how to be a good leader in an escape room, and we can talk forever about how essential communication is, but let us really zero in on the importance of soft skills in an escape room.
Time management and work ethic
Leadership and communication are all but useless unless you’re able to manage your time when you play an escape room. Like in life, in order to be successful in your game you need a strong drive and the ability to prioritize to get everything done. This might seem obvious, but it is surprisingly easy to get caught on a puzzle and waste a quarter of your valuable hour on it. Little things like keeping track of your game progress can make or break your game. So how can you exercise these valuable soft skills? Try to remember to check your game timer every once in a while to track your progress and decide if you need help based on how much you’re achieving. Your work ethic is your own, but in an escape room, remember you’re playing on a team with a time limit. Escape rooms are meant to be a challenge, stay engaged and focused if you want to succeed.
Emotional intelligence and critical thinking
Some soft skills are harder to learn than others. For the most part, your emotional intelligence and critical thinking will already be established and working subconsciously when you go to play an escape room; keep in mind they are important skills that will help you not only keep your cool but also unravel the mysteries of the game. Regulating your emotional reaction when you play can help mitigate frustrations or counterproductive arguments with your teammates. It can be difficult to master, but remember that keeping your cool will take you far. Similarly, critical thinking comes with practice, but you can certainly break up your own thinking patterns by opening conversations with other group members about how they understand a puzzle, or by taking a short break from the puzzle to make sure you haven’t missed anything.