Ever wondered why some people seem to have a hassle-free ride to the top of their careers and make a name for themselves, while others fail to reach their full career potential, even though they possess the technical skills to excel?
It All Boils Down to Soft Skills
Success isn't limited to technical skills. You need to equally hone your soft skills; human beings are social animals, after all! According to a dictionary, soft skills are “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.”
Soft skills such as building meaningful relationships, effective communication, and networking may not be requirements clearly stated for your position, but they play a huge role in your career development.
Below are 8 soft skills that will greatly improve your personal and career life:
1. Effective Communication
Whether it's communicating with your team or trying to voice your opinion to your manager, effective communication will arm you with the tools needed to properly deliver your message and get the desired result from a conversation.
It's important to be proficient in both verbal and non-verbal communication. For instance, although email writing is a form of non-verbal communication, it is a widely used medium for sharing information today. So, this means it has to be used properly for clear communication.
Tips for Improving Communication
- Write down things you want to say.
- Listen carefully.
- Stay confident.
- Pay attention to your body language.
- Always wear a smile.
- Observe and think before you talk.
- Double check your email before you send it.
- Read emails out loud before sending them.
2. Conflict Resolution
Working in a multifaceted environment, such as most workplaces today, comes with its own challenges. You come in contact with people who may have varying views, opinions, and behaviors from yours. This can lead to conflicts at some point in time. Conflict resolution prepares you for such situations and teaches you how to manage them in a calm and composed manner, while ensuring that both parties leave unhurt.
Tips for Resolving Conflicts
- Listen and try to understand the other person.
- Don't prioritize proving that you’re right.
- Forgive and let go of things.
- Use sensible humor to change the person's mood.
- Admit and apologize if you were at fault.
As the saying goes, "two heads are better than one". Even if you prefer to work independently, working in a team means you have to share responsibilities and contribute to the group effort. This isn't so bad; teamwork can help introduce a fresh perspective on nagging issues and solve problems faster.
Willingness to work in a team while maintaining a balance between compromising and negotiating for what you need shows teamwork.
Tips for Working Well Within a Team
- Get to know your team members on a personal level.
- Know your role within the team.
- Know your team's purpose, mission, and vision.
- Make sure you're fun to work with.
- Never complain about or blame anyone on the team.(And if you have complaints, review #1 and #2 above)
- Give and take feedback regularly.
We all know that everyone doesn’t think the way we do. Being open to ideas and accepting others' perspectives shows how open-minded you are. So be patient and listen to what others have to say.
Tips for Becoming More Open-Minded
- Be okay with moving out of your comfort zone.
- Expand your knowledge by reading books on different subjects.
- Befriend those that have different mindsets.
- Constantly remind yourself about how much you don't know.
- Stop getting emotionally attached to your ideas and reacting in anger when others disagree with your opinions.
5. Creative Thinking
Creative thinking, lateral thinking, thinking out of the box, whatever you choose to call it, is one of the most attractive skills to have. Sometimes, when the conventional methods do not work in solving a problem, people always look up to a person who can think laterally.
Creative thinking often gets you out of tough times and allows for innovation. Where there's creative thinking, there's always a future.
Tip for Improving Creative Thinking
- Have a proper sleep routine.
- Meditate in your free time.
- Set aside time to think.
- Take breaks to manage stress.
- Share thoughts and ideas with others and listen to their ideas.
- Create small things every day that reinforce your creativity.
6. Time Management
Time management is being able to plan and use your time productively. A person with good time management skills will always stay productive.
All successful people understand the value of time and have consequently mastered the art of time management. Time is an asset and you need to manage it well.
Tips for Effective Time Management
- Identify and get rid of habits or activities that you waste time on.
- Write down the list of tasks you need to complete each day and set deadlines.
- Make out time for planning and prioritizing your tasks.
- Build a routine for yourself.
- Start your day early.
- Avoid procrastination.
7. Stress Management
Stress is unavoidable in our fast-moving society. But if not properly managed, it can damage you physically and mentally. Knowing how to manage stress is an essential skill that can ultimately lead to a healthy personal and career life.
Tips for Reducing and Managing Stress
Identify and tackle sources of stress.
- Identify how you personally react to stress.
- Take regular breaks to turn your mind off.
- Plan your day to allow yourself more time for each task.
- Have a healthy diet and a good sleep routine.
- Stay mindful and meditate regularly.
- Create some time for a hobby or sport during your free time.
[Related: Work-Llife Balane for Productivity]
8. Emotional Intelligence
This is at the core of developing soft skills. Emotions can affect the mood of an environment in many ways. The ability to understand, control, and respond positively to emotions is known as emotional intelligence.
In a workplace or your day-to-day life, you get to meet people who might be completely different from you. In such situations, emotional intelligence will help you quickly evaluate and respond favorably to the emotions of the other person.
Tips for Improving Emotional Intelligence
- Pay close attention to changes in your emotions and their triggers.
- Stay friendly and open to others’ thoughts.
- Listen and empathize with others’ problems.
- Respond instead of reacting. Think before you talk to anyone and know how it might affect them.
- Remain neutral until you understand the situation and the person in depth.
Soft Skills Aren't Hard
Soft skills aren't hard to learn, as long as you practice them consistently. Take baby steps, if you must, to build these effective habits that ultimately become useful skills for your personal and career growth. Who knows? They might be all you need to land your dream job!
Interested in learning more about the job market and opportunities for non-degree holders? We've got you covered! Start your job search here or check out more of our blogs and get answers to your most urgent questions.
Photo by Jacob Lund via Canva