|“Skill to do comes of doing.” Ralph Waldo Emerson|
Having the technical skills and knowledge to successfully execute your job duties is only one part of being the best you can be in the workplace. In addition to these “hard” skills, we also need “soft” skills. Soft skills are those skills which allow us to effectively work with others. No matter what your position, organization, or industry, you work with people! Taking the time to build effective soft skills can contribute to a more efficient, more harmonious, and more productive workplace, as well as to your own overall job happiness and satisfaction.
What are Soft Skills?
|I think we all have empathy. We may not have the courage to display it. Maya Angelou|
What are soft skills, anyway? Simply put, soft skills are the personal attributes that allows us to effectively relate to others. These skills enhance our personal interactions and lead to greater job performance and satisfaction. Unlike hard skills, which are the technical and knowledge skill set we bring to our work, soft skills are interpersonal and can be applied in a broad array of situations. Soft skills encompass both personality traits, such as optimism, and abilities which can be practiced, such as empathy. Like all skills, soft skills can be learned.
Soft skills are personal attributes that allow us to effectively relate to others. Applying these skills helps us build stronger work relationships, work more productively, and maximize our career prospects. Often we place the focus of our career development efforts on hard skills – technology skills, knowledge, and other skills that specifically relate to our ability to get work-related tasks done. This means we neglect to develop our soft skills. However, soft skills are directly transferrable to any job, organization, or industry. As a result, they are an investment worth making.
Soft skills include:
- Showing Empathy
- Giving and receiving feedback
|The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. Peter Drucker|
Communication is the most important soft skill, because all other soft skills are built on the ability to communicate clearly and professionally. Communication is more than just sending a message – it is also the ability to receive messages, listen actively, and “hear” what isn’t being said. Many times we focus on learning to speak or write clearly, but this is only one component of communication – and perhaps not even the most important!
|Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships. Michael Jordan|
Even if you work fairly independently most of the time, inevitably you must also work with others. Finding ways to build teams that accomplish what needs to be done in the most efficient and accurate manner is often challenging, especially when bringing together team members with diverse sets of hard and soft skills. There are some basic techniques you can use when building, or working with, a team to help create a cohesive unit that leverages everyone’s talents and ensures that each person contributes.
|It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein|
No matter what your industry or your role, problem-solving is part of your job. Whether the problems you encounter are big or small, you solve problems every day. Learning how to apply problem-solving skills helps not only to enhance productivity, but also helps to cultivate relationships by focusing on shared goals and solutions.
5. Time Management
|Priority management is the answer we have to maximizing the time we have. John C. Maxwell|
We all have the same number of hours in the day, so why is it that some people seem to get so much more done? The ability to effectively manage your time is key to productivity. You may not be able to create more time in your day, but applying time management skills can help you make the most of the time you do hav
6. Attitude and Work Ethic
|Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character. Albert EinsteinPart|
Creating a positive attitude is one of the best things you can do for your productivity and your workplace happiness. People who have a consistently positive attitude are seen as approachable and can build more effective workplace relationships. A positive attitude also serves you well when you face challenges or setbacks – it breeds resilience. Coupled with a positive attitude, a strong work ethic helps you build strong relationships with team mates and superiors. A solid work ethic also helps you find reward in the work you do, and shows a dedication not just to goals and outcomes but to your overall professional development.
|You must always be able to predict what’s next and have the flexibility to evolve. Marc Benioff|
Two of the most important skills you can have are adaptability and flexibility. Some people mistakenly think that the ability to change according to the needs of a situation or a willingness to compromise show weakness of a lack of conviction. In reality, the ability to compromise, change in response to changing situations and changing needs, and thrive are key to success in the fast-pace workplaces most of us find ourselves in. Change can be scary, but learning to adapt and flex as needed is an investment worth making.
8. Self-Confidence (Owning It)
|Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings. Samuel Johnson|
The single greatest thing you can do for your own success is build and learn to show self-confidence. Self-confidence is not egotistic or acting like you are better than others. Self-confidence is simply the belief that you know what to do and how to do it, that you are good at what you do, and that you can handle whatever comes your way. Demonstrating self-confidence helps to engender trust in you, and demonstrates that you are skilled and adaptable.
9. Ability to Learn from
|I like criticism. It makes you strong. LeBron James|
No one likes criticism, but the ability to learn from it is key to professional and personal development. Learning to accept and learn from criticism is a valuable investment in yourself. The ability to listen to and accept criticism is a key component of self-confidence. It also demonstrates that you value what others have to say, and helps develop a sense that you are committed to what you do and to your own growth.
|Networking is an essential part of building wealth. Armstrong Williams|
Networking is more than just a buzzword. Taking the time to network and build relationships is a key soft skill. Networking helps you create connections with others, which expands your circle of learning and support. Networking is more than meeting people or connecting with them on the Internet. It involves building mutually beneficial links where you can learn from and benefit from each other and the relationship.