Ten soft skills you need
The future of business leadership is soft skills. Hard skills such as data analysis and accounting are important for career advancement. However, in a post-pandemic business world of remote collaboration and increased workplace sensitivity, individuals with soft skills such as teamwork, problem solving, and especially communication will thrive.
Communication: To receive is better than to give
Effective communication impacts all the other soft skills you might gain, from empathy to decision-making. Office communication is often verbal, but it can also be written or non-verbal. Many studies indicate non-verbal cues such as gestures and body language comprise most of our communications.
Good communicators focus on active listening and being aware of how someone expresses themself. Active listeners know receiving communication is as important as giving it. The ability to listen and reflect on what is said shows you understand.
Good communication is most important when handling criticism. When a colleague offers you constructive criticism, they are suggesting ways you can be more productive. Likewise, when you offer input to a team member, make it clear you are encouraging excellence in their job performance.
Receive criticism confidently with an open mind. No one is perfect and imperfection offers room for growth. Listen to what your colleague has to say and reflect on it. Consider the feedback and think about ways you might improve. A calm, rational response to criticism demonstrates you value feedback and can adapt.
Employers rank good communication skills highly when looking to hire at all levels. These are the kind of interpersonal skills that will help you differentiate.
Listening and paying close attention to what’s being said
Non-verbal communication – body language, positioning and movement, eye contact, hand gestures, and tone of voice all modify the message.
Friendliness – A friendly tone, personal question, showing interest or a smile encourages open and honest communication
Confidence shows conviction and commitment and that you will follow through.
Empathy – This shows you are listening and respect other opinions.
Open-mindedness – Maintaining a flexible mindset allows you to embrace other people’s points of view.
Clarity – speaking simply, convey your message in as few words as possible
Gestures – Waving, pointing, or using your hands when speaking emphasize and modify what you say
Eye Contact – Using one’s eyes to communicate attraction, affection, hostility, and interest.
Touch can communicate connection, support, congratulations and attraction as well as negative concepts such as condescension.
Space – Using personal space can communicate intimacy, affection, or aggression.
Voice – Timing, pace, volume, tone, and inflection convey everything from enthusiasm to disapproval.
You can’t just rely on hard skills nowadays
The world changes and business adapts
Problem-solvers are valued in the workplace because they increase productivity and morale. Your ability to remain calm and address the problem with a critical mind demonstrates confidence and leadership, two other soft skills people value.
When challenges arise, focus on the precise issue. Narrowing the scope of the problem helps manage anxiety and panic. Work with your team to generate multiple solutions and evaluate each idea with an open mind. Consider which solution offers the most benefit while accounting for the resources required.
People often approach challenges with an attitude of ‘this is how we’ve always done it.’ Clinging to past solutions in a changing world limits productivity. By applying new skills and new techniques, you can create game-changing business processes.
Adapting in the face of unexpected challenges shows outstanding leadership. Ask your fellow team members what they need and be willing to take on whatever role is necessary. This kind of adaptability exhibits the confidence organizations look for in management.
Developing confidence in the workplace
According to the Harvard Business Review, confidence is a soft skill you can practice and grow. You can develop a more self-assured personality at the office through consistent effort. Below are some tips for growing your confidence.
Think about what makes your background, experiences, and talents unique. What do you bring to the table?
Consider how your talents align with team and company objectives.
Start with small confidence wins: try asserting yourself more with your friends or choose to speak up in a meeting.
Listen to your word choice when you speak. Be aware of tendencies that make you sound less assertive.
Practice your body language and nonverbal skills in front of a mirror. Stand up straight, make eye contact, and speak to yourself with confidence.
Be patient. Keep at it and see what works for you.
“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.” – Dale Carnegie
The Hardest Soft Skill: Getting on with People
Working with people while respecting their feelings requires emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to deal with emotions in ways that improve how we think and work with others. Fast Company recently dubbed it “a superpower for managing uncertainty and ambiguity.” To learn more about emotional intelligence, you can explore our course Ten Soft Skills You Need.
Emotional intelligence allows you to recognize what people do well and allocate work based on the skills your team possesses. When a person understands what they can contribute to a project, it gives them a greater sense of investment in the outcome. This increases the project’s odds of success.
Recognizing individual talents also leads to setting better expectations. People with clear concepts of their responsibilities are more likely to step into their roles and be accountable. Show you care about the project and your team members by asking them questions and discussing their roles.
Displaying an interest in your colleagues can create allies in the workplace and make your job more pleasant. Good relationships internally and externally help a business grow.
When you meet new people, ask them about their goals or interests. Think of ways your interests align. Can you offer your talents or expertise to them? Can you use theirs? Your emotional intelligence helps you build mutually beneficial relationships with colleagues, vendors, partners, and potential customers.
Getting on with people is a superpower you can learn.
Soft skills enable individuals to interact effectively with others. They are important for interviewing, job performance, career development and communicating with people in and out of work. Some examples are:
- Problem Solving
- Work ethic
- Interpersonal skills
Some people are naturally confident and others develop confidence. A confident leader:
- Is not afraid to be wrong
- Realizes the best idea may not be their own
- Listens more than they speak
- Shares the credit when due and doesn’t seek the spotlight
- Asks for help when needed
- Thinks in terms of possibility, i.e. why not?
- Doesn’t put other people down
- Acknowledges their mistakes
- Doesn’t get defensive when criticized
- Always looks to improve
One of the recommended approaches to problem solving is the IDEAL model, from Bransford and Stein’s book Ideal Problem Solver. Their model addresses a problem in simple stages. After you implement a solution, you can revisit it to examine its quantifiable results and see what needs to be tweaked.
Problem Solving Stages:
- Identify the issue
- Define the obstacles
- Examine your options
- Act on an agreed course of action
- Look at how it turns out, and whether any changes need to be made.
This is one of our executive briefings taken from our series of professional online business short courses from ELL. We have over 100 courses online with over 1,000 hours of e-learning covering a wide range of topics across leadership, management and personal & professional development created by industry experts and learning professionals.
Soft Skills Courses
Soft Skills are somewhat confusing and unknown for many people but make up an important suite of skills to develop. Soft skills can encompass a unique attribute or characteristic that facilitates great communication. It can be the special way that you show confidence in a challenging situation. These and other events can become more easily managed on our course. If it’s your first time exploring these concepts, our course will give you an understanding of their importance and power, impacting you positively in every facet of your life.
By the end of this course, you will have learned core skills in:
- Developing your emotional intelligence quotient (EQ)
- Be able to manage time better
- Communicate more effectively
- Develop your self confidence skills
- Know how to cope with constructive criticism and reject negative
In each of our business courses, you get access to around six hours of e-learning that you can watch, listen and read. There are usually 100 questions and at the end of the course you will receive a certificate of completion that you can use against any personal or professional development requirements. As well as the course, you also receive a FREE e-book that you can read on your Kindle or other e-reader. You also get a FREE audiobook of the course so you can listen to the whole course uninterrupted on your device.