What are the key soft skills you should learn?

Do you think you are eligible for a particular position, fit to lead a team or are entitled to a promotion because you have vast experience and highly developed professional skills? Well, it turns out that while those things are key to your professional success, you need to have great soft skills too. This will also be useful in the new economy where these skills would definitely come into play.

Soft skills are commonly defined as a combination of personality traits, behaviors and social attitudes that help people to interact, cooperate and resolve conflict effectively. People with good soft skills (some call it people skills) tend to have strong situational awareness and emotional intelligence which helps them to manage challenging work environments while still delivering positive results. This is especially important for leadership positions because good leadership is more about managing people and directing their efforts toward a desired outcome rather than bringing any specific technical skills to bear.

Another benefit of soft skills in the workplace is that they help people to adapt to changing circumstances. Being able to communicate effectively during a time of uncertainty or collaborate with others when solutions aren’t immediately obvious is hugely important whether someone is in a leadership position or not. Given their many applications, it’s hardly a surprise that organizations are doing more to assess a candidate’s soft skills during the interview process.

Here are 10 soft skills you’ll need to succeed at work:

  1. Leadership.

Organizations want staff who can supervise and direct other workers. We want workers who can build relationships around the corporate chain and up, down and down. Leaders not only need to assess, inspire, empower and discipline employees but also create teams, resolve disputes, and foster the desired culture of the company. Understanding how people can control and care for their needs is an essential element of leadership, which all too many companies overlook when they simply place someone with the most technical expertise in a position of authority. Soft skills development is often a key component of leadership training.

2. Teamwork.
Many of the employees are part of a team / department / division and even those who are not part of an official team need to collaborate with other staff members. You may prefer working alone, but it’s important to demonstrate that you understand and appreciate the importance of joining forces and working in collaboration with others to achieve the goals of the business. This shows that you possess the soft skills necessary to engage in productive collaboration.

3. Flexibility.

Being “likable” or having a “strong personality” are qualities which are highly subjective and based on context. Supreme communicators have a keen ability to change gears when the situation calls for them, and a deep range of choices for communication to choose from. In this way, they can react appropriately to what the current situation demands. For businesses to stay competitive in the 21st century, they need to make rapid (and often drastic) changes. So they want workers who can change gears as well, or change direction as needed. Because organisations have become less hierarchical and agile over the last decade, it is more important than ever for workers to be able to manage several different roles and to demonstrate a willingness to take on responsibilities that might lay outside their area of expertise.

4. Knowing how and when to show empathy.

Having the ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes is a key people skill. It allows us to create relationships with others, provides insights into people’s motives and allows us to predict responses.

5. Communication.

There are five components of effective communication. Verbal contact refers to the ability to communicate with consistency and briefness. The capacity to project constructive body language and facial expressions requires nonverbal communication. Written correspondence refers to the capacity to write emails, papers and other forms of documents. Visual communication requires the ability to use photographs and other visual aids to convey information. Active listening can also be considered a crucial soft communication ability as it lets you listen to what others are saying and really understand. To learn how to better connect with others you need to be able to listen. Without strong listening skills, any communication efforts will be one-way and probably ineffective.

6. Ability to persuade others.

There’s a good chance that at some point in your career you’ll have to sell others on your ideas, products or services. Whether you’re up for a promotion, pitching a project, or selling clothing in a retail store, you need to be able to form a strong, convincing argument for why you, or your products, are the very best, or the “right” one.

7. Great sense of humor.

Who doesn’t like to laugh? It is the ‘great diffuser’ of conflict and tension. When you can jam the stress or routine framework with levity, you’ll be succeeding in your career. It was once said that ‘no one ever died of laughter,’ so if you can keep some lightheartedness in your career, you’ll probably get more air time during meetings so overall.

8. Proactive problem solving.

Work is a series of problem-solving situations, so if you are constructive you will take the burden off your boss and colleagues. Glitches, bumps in the road and stumbling blocks are all part of the job and reflect learning opportunities. The ability to use your expertise to find answers to pressing issues and to devise workable ideas will prove that you can handle and excel in your job. If done well, you’ll be the go to person when something happens that requires a steady pair of hands.

9. Good manners.

In the realm of people’s abilities, using ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ goes a long way. While obviously obvious, a few need little reminders. Keeping a post it with a smile or another symbol will remind us that work is more than accomplishing something, it’s how we get it done.

10. Ability to be supportive and motivate others.

People want others to believe in it, no matter how good they might be. You may bring someone back on track, or keep them moving in the right direction by showing support in the form of encouragement.The tricky part as always to finding their key motivation factor and meting it. Remember, everyone is different.

Check out my related post: When are you ready to lead?

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