We’re going to let you in on a little secret: technical skills are not enough to get you to the next level. You need soft skills to succeed.
Soft skills are those that are more social than technical. They are a combination of social skills and attitudes that help you navigate your workplace and enable you to work well with others.
Employees frequently overlook the importance of soft skills. You can be the most brilliant in your field but if you’re unable to effectively communicate, collaborate and adapt to change, you’re likely to be passed by for advancement opportunities.
For example, your technical skills will get you an interview; the soft skills you demonstrate during the interview will get you the job.
Here are our 11 favorite soft skills.
1. Active Listening – Do you listen to what your co-workers say or do you just hear them? Active listening requires you to first tune out what’s going on around you (set your phone down and turn away from the computer) so you can actively engage in listening to what someone has to say.
Active listeners ask questions. They gather information from the speaker’s body language. They make others feel valued.
2. Embrace Adaptability – If there’s one thing you can count on in the workplace, it’s that you will be required to face unexpected change. Technology changes – you need to adapt and learn a new platform, your business model becomes obsolete – you need to adapt to a new strategy, your manager gets promoted – you have to adapt to a new boss. You get the picture.
Adaptability is not about the change as much as it is how you handle it. Do you bury your head in the sand, or complain to everyone on your team about your dissatisfaction or do you take a deep breath and adapt to the ever-changing workplace?
3. Enthusiastic Curiosity – You will learn, grow and change if you are curious and ask questions. You will also be better equipped to solve problems if you know how and why things work the way they do.
4. Honest Introspection – At some point or another during our careers, we will all receive feedback that is difficult to hear. Who, after all, wants to be confronted with the fact that they need to improve? Introspection is the ability to take that feedback and – rather than be defensive or dismissive – process it and honestly assess how we can improve. Introspective people develop and improve their soft skills faster than those who tell themselves they are flawless.
5. Empathetic Mindfulness – What if we told you that taking a moment to put yourself directly in someone else’s shoes will make you more effective? It sounds strange but you’ll be better prepared to handle the frustration of co-workers or managers who don’t operate the way you want. That’s because you will have a better understanding of “why” they operate the way they do and you’ll be able to manage up, down or sideways accordingly.
6. Problem – No problem! – We love to work with teammates who know how to solve problems and do it with a great attitude. Those who succeed at problem solving typically have a positive attitude and view problems as another opportunity to hone their skills and add value.
7. Values Based Work Ethic – Keep the purpose of your organization in mind as you work through difficult situations in the workplace. Do the right thing and don’t check your values at the door when you walk into the office. You will be respected for it.
8. Practice Gratitude – It’s often overlooked, but for individuals, teams and business units to succeed it helps to practice being thankful. With gratitude, we acknowledge successes – whether big or small. It helps us recognize that the source of that goodness lies partially outside ourselves and helps us connect with others and to something larger – to a larger common goal, a larger business victory.
9. Conscientious Communication – One of the most common mistakes people make when communicating is to fail to understand their audience. Taking the time to understand your audience and communicate accordingly. It saves time and effort for everyone by eliminating misunderstanding.
10. Grace Under Pressure – When the pressure is high keep a calm attitude. It’s unproductive to whip yourself, or others, into a frenzy. Better to take a deep breath and focus on getting the work done.
11. Happiness Factor – It’s much nicer to work with happy people than rotten ones. And don’t be afraid to add a little levity in the workplace. It’s an office after all, not a Benedictine Monastery. We’re in the office for 8-10 hours a day – have a little fun!
The road to improvement is always under construction – for all of us. Take some time to evaluate your soft skills and then put them to work for you!
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