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Recently, the term soft skills are on everyone’s lips, do you know what this term means exactly?
In this article, I’ll explain the exact meaning of this term and what’s behind it.
In most companies today, they want to have independent thinking people who do their work with accuracy. The computer programmer needs to know how to use programming languages. A painter needs to know how to paint the walls. We call these capabilities hard or technical skills.
So that you can work good in your profession, you also need so-called “soft skills.” Soft skills have a significant impact on the personality development of employees. Today, many large companies recognize that the personal qualities of their employees play an essential role.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are the personal traits that each of us has. They make us what we are. Generally, it includes our attitudes, habits, and how to deal with other people.
I’ll say it differently: Soft skills refer to your ability to engage with other people, organize with them, communicate with them in writing, orally or otherwise.
Soft skills refer to
- Variety of personal values: fairness, respect, reliability,
- personal qualities: serenity, patience, kindness,
- Individual Skills: Criticism, Listening, Enthusiasm and
- social skills: dealing with other people (teamwork, empathy, communication skills of managers and employees),
- which promotes cooperation and motivation in the company.
Thus, there is a significant overlap between soft skills and social skills. But soft skills with the property dimensions and individual abilities go beyond that.
The WHO defines soft skills as:
“These are the adaptive and positive behaviors that enable individuals to deal with the demands and challenges of everyday life.”
UNICEF defines soft skills as:
“An approach to behavioral change or behavioral development that seeks to balance three areas: knowledge, attitudes, and abilities.”
These are mostly two primary skills: those that relate to thinking (thinking ability) and that link to dealing with others (social skills).
The thinking ability refers to a personal level – social skills in interpersonal skills. It is the combination of these two skills that makes it possible to change behavior.
Why is it important to develop soft skills?
Soft skills allow you to use your skills and knowledge effectively and efficiently. You can improve your relationship with supervisors, employees, and customers.
As a result, these conditions are becoming increasingly important due to the constant change in your work environment, a customer-centric market, information technology, and globalization.
What does that mean to you?
Developing your soft skills is very important to you. Because one thing is fact: your soft skills are your working capital. You also take them to a new employer. Why do I say that? There is intense competition in every business for few available managerial positions.
If you already have these soft skills, then you have the advantage. Your willingness to develop and apply them makes the difference between a service provider and non-service providers.
In the past, the emphasis was more on hard skills that stood for real productivity. So the skills that are strictly related to the actual production.
Business climate and motivation
Employers today are looking for people with pronounced soft skills. They are a vital qualification for a better atmosphere in the companies. With the changing world and the nature of work, the demands on workers and leaders have changed.
In today’s world of work and globalization, a minimum working climate is crucial.
In the industrial working world today, it is more about communication, relationships. A company should present itself and its ideas most positively and effectively.
Employees’ social skills also influence a productive and healthy work environment.
The workplace is an interpersonal area. There are professional relationships, and interactions take place.
What should be your most important soft skills?
I have no clear answer to this question. It is not easy to assess which soft skills are most important. Roughly speaking, that depends on your work. If you have a lot to do with people, they are essential. But if you have little contact with other employees or even customers, you can concentrate on the technical side of your task.
Here you can find some skills that are important for your workspace:
1. Communication? Or speak intelligibly
To communicate means that your listener understands what you mean. Our first trainer instructor once said: “The language level has to be right.” You have to speak in a way that your listeners or your target group understand.
Depending on your position in your business, you must be sure that employees follow your instructions or statements, whether colleagues or customers bring issues/problems understandably. Communication is an essential aspect of a leader/manager. He must be able to delegate clearly and understandably.
2. Motivation needs an impulse + goal
A positive attitude to life and a job will help you. Motivation comes from within. I want to achieve something, clearly, also external factors like, e.g., a friendly workplace. But the initiative is yours. Motivation can become a crucial social competence.
That is not just proof of your reliability and commitment. It also shows that you can integrate efficiently into an organizational structure.
3. Be a leader
Can you lead people? Have you ever been captain of a team in sports? Then you know what that means. Leadership is a soft skill. Leadership qualities combine several soft skills under this concept.
There you will find the following abilities, for example:
- A generally positive attitude,
- to communicate purposefully,
- to motivate others, and
- to motivate yourself.
Responsibility means nothing other than that you have to account for a third instance/person for your actions. To know when to take responsibility for a “mistake.” Do you have that healthy level of humility? The willingness to learn, grow personally and make progress.
Excellent teamwork, like leadership, requires a combination of different soft skills. When a team works towards a common goal, each team player must know his position and role. Good team players are sensitive and open to the needs and responsibilities of others.
As a group, solving a problem requires not only analytical, creative, and critical skills but also a particular way of thinking.
You should approach a problem with a calm and well-rested head. This condition is usually more efficient to solve than to hectically contact a challenge — those who can not do that need longer. Problem-solving is a soft skill, often based on strong teamwork.
Better not solve problems alone. The ability to know who can help solve a problem is a great benefit.
7. Make decisions
You make decisions every day for you in the private sector. Professionally, that depends very much on your job.
Employers have to make decisions for many reasons. Of course for themselves but also their employees. There the company tradition, quality, and personal success can play a role.
8. The ability to work under pressure and time
Many jobs are associated with some deadlines (completion too) and occasionally high stakes. Recruiters seek out candidates who have one
- determined attitude,
- unshakeable ability to think clearly and
- I can cope with stress.
We associate time management with the ability to work under pressure and within tight deadlines. Employees have to be able to divide their time well to complete a task on time.
Of course, people may have concerns about dealing with new areas of responsibility. You must then leave your comfort zone. They are experts in their repertoire of hard skills.
But flexibility is an essential soft ability. Flexibility shows your ability and willingness to acquire new hard skills. It is also a sign of your openness to new tasks and challenges.
Employers often look for candidates who show a willing and optimistic attitude because they connect many jobs with the possibility of secondment.
10. Negotiating skills and conflict resolution
Another ability the employer can expect from potential executives. If you are a skilled negotiator, then you will know how to convince and influence conversationalists. Here you should show the necessary sensitivity in finding a solution that benefits all groups.
When resolving conflicts, your interpersonal skills and empathy are essential. You should be able to act as mediator and arbitrator, whether to colleagues or customers.
Every employer or every person can change their priorities. It always depends on the workplace. The higher you are in the company hierarchy, the more soft skills you need to bring.
However, your work will likely pay off in terms of developing your skills. That can be just as much in your job search as it is in everyday life.
Tips for improving your soft skills
If you think you can improve on one point or another, here are some tips to get you started in no time.
1. Always communicate
It is essential to be an excellent communicator for your colleagues, supervisors, or team members. There are no means. Be it by email, phone calls, messages, or in person.
Important are both written and oral communication skills. They show which type of employee you are. Are you collegial, helpful or the non-team-mate colleague who does not keep others up to date on the progress of a project. Fundamental is the question of whether you can even build relationships with your colleagues and superiors.
Communication gives everyone a clearer idea of where a project or task should go. It paves the way for great results. Communicate with your manager and colleague via a simple message, email, or personal update to keep everyone up to date.
2. Be a team player
Employers are interested in people who can work well in a team. That depends on the success of a company. Connected with this are the people who work towards the same goal. Also, people who can work well with others create a friendly office atmosphere that motivates employees.
Much of learning how to work in a team is how to communicate effectively with people. Communication is, therefore, the key to developing your soft skills!
3. Improve your creativity
At some point, everyone has ever been creative in their lives. As an example, I take the topic of procrastination. We do not talk about creativity in terms of arts and crafts. Unless this is your job, but about solving problems and brainstorming new ideas.
Some ways to improve your creative skills are solving problems. When a problem arises, consider how to approach your boss with a solution instead of complaining about the issue.
As you think about problem-solving and continuously try to develop new ideas, the gears in your head will spin.
Another way to work on your creativity is to surround yourself with creative people.
You can exchange ideas with them. That’s why communication and teamwork are two valuable things. You should get used to it if you want to improve your soft skills.
4. Train the speeches in front of an audience
By practicing speaking in front of an audience, you work to become a better communicator and superior. If you do not feel comfortable talking in public, you can feel more comfortable practicing alone. Prepare for the time you speak in front of others.
Pay attention to tempo, body language, volume, eye contact, and tone when practicing. Then you can judge what you need to improve. Remember that practice makes perfect!
5. Pay attention to your body language:
When speaking or listening, listen to body language, both yours and the person. Observe eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, and posture, so that you understand better how to react to it.
You to send signals! Therefore, pay attention to your body language so that you send the right messages. For example, sitting or standing upright and having good eye contact is a sign that you are interested in a topic.
6. Tackle conflict in a healthy way:
In everyday life, conflicts are an inevitable part. Therefore, resolving disputes is a useful skill.
If disagreements arise, deal with the situation calmly but plainly. Ask questions to all sides to give you an overview of the problem. Then you should try to find a rational solution together with the involved parties.
While some people feel uncomfortable when conflicts arise, it is essential not to run away from them. Dealing with disputes will make things smoother in the long run and strengthen your conflict resolution skills.
7. Accept constructive criticism:
No one is flawless !! Even if that means some snooty.
Part of learning and growing in a job, internship, or life is being able to assess yourself. Collect feedback and make any necessary changes. So you can keep improving for future opportunities.
For developing your skills further, it is necessary to listen to the feedback of others. That should apply to both soft skills and hard skills to improve.
First of all, assume that everyone gives you feedback that does it with good intentions. Constructive criticism can help you get better over time as you accept it.
You can not learn soft skills in one day. Go out and experience the work environment yourself! Depending on your age, apply for internships, jobs, and leadership positions. Learn to cope in many different situations and expand your soft skills.
It may be your hard skills that enable you to conduct a job interview, but it is the soft skills that bring you success in your career. Soft skills are your skills.
You decide how well you work with others, how good your work is, how well you communicate. It shows how you differ from other experts in your field.
While your technical expertise is significant, it’s much harder to teach soft skills. That might be a crucial factor in getting and keeping your dream job.