Soft Skills are Hard

There are a number of personality and ethics-related skills that make you a more valuable employee across any industry. These are called “soft skills,” and they’re considered to be more difficult to train than job-related technical skills. Employers often look for these skills when they’re hiring as a supplement to job experience. Similarly, internal promotions are more likely to go to employees who demonstrate a robust set of interpersonal skills that benefit their team and office like selling roids – supplement.

If you’re looking for ways to make yourself a more attractive candidate in any career, it’s time to think carefully about your demeanor and how you function in a cooperative environment. If you’re considering any sort of management role, skills that improve your emotional intelligence and active listening, as well as your ability to motivate other people and think critically will make a huge difference. Here is a breakdown of some of the most important soft skills.

Emotional Intelligence

This is one of those buzzwords that not many people truly understand. Emotional intelligence (EI or EIQ) comes in two forms; personal and interpersonal.

Personal EI is about your ability to manage your own emotions, stay calm under pressure, and remove your personal feelings from business decisions. These skills are applicable from team leaders to client representatives, and if you’re shooting for a leadership position it’s important not to be someone who needs their emotions managed by someone else. If you have problems with anger, anxiety, depression, or any other aspect of your emotional life, remember that it’s OK to struggle. Everyone does, some more than others. But you need to focus on successfully coping with emotional distress yourself before you can demonstrate true leadership ability.

Interpersonal EI is about the people around you. This is your ability to notice when people need reassurance, when they’re taxed and need to cool off, to mediate conflict and maintain a forgiving demeanor. Learning to pick up on emotional cues and identify the source of potential conflict will make you an asset to any team. This is the next “stage” of emotional intelligence and can generally only be honed once your personal EI is acute.

HR managers look for a number of cues that you have a high emotional Intelligence, including:

  • Your ability to admit mistakes and identify learning opportunities
  • Responding graciously and thoughtfully to criticism
  • A willingness to listen
  • Your ability to handle pressure and difficult topics of conversation

Active Listening

Many people mistake active listening for a tool that primarily benefits other people. Its use in counselling and conflict resolution can give the impression that it’s a service you give to someone else. This is only partially true.

Active listening has two general purposes:

  • To make speakers feel heard and understood
  • To improve the efficiency of conversations by ensuring that each participant fully understands and remembers all of the points of discussion.

Mastering active listening in a way that will benefit your career involves mastering both of its applications in business communication: interpersonal interactions and workplace efficiency.

Remember that along with the outward physical signs of active listening, such as body language cues, requests for clarification and thoughtful questions, you need to employ active listening internally. Make yourself aware of natural breaks in conversation to interject, and allow people to finish their thoughts instead of interrupting them. Refrain from constructing rebuttals and arguments in your head while someone else is still speaking. Repeat important points back to yourself in your head to help your memory along.

Recognize Your Unique Skillset

Soft skills comes in all sorts of different forms and relate to a number of positive attributes such as work ethic, critical thinking, creativity, communications and leadership style.

Everyone brings a unique set of soft skills to a job. Maximizing your career growth involves recognizing your strengths and building on them. As your communication and teamwork skills grow, you create an invaluable position for yourself in the workplace. Work at it hard enough, and you’ll carve out a niche that only you can fill.

As I always say, “Soft skills are hard.”  They can be difficult (hard) to master.  But they yield hard results in the business world.  Work on developing your soft skills and watch you career take off.


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