I was recently reminded by a fellow coaching friend about soft skills. I had forgotten about this phrase which refers to the personal traits you use to interact with other people. You may have heard them referred to as people skills, or street smarts. On the other side of the scale are hard skills. Those are skills from technical knowledge and education that shape how you interact with tasks. We’ve been so focused on continuity of the hard skills during the pandemic, soft skills have kind of take a back seat. Well, it is time to bring that topic back up. I find it common for people to think about soft skills when they are writing a job description, or writing a resume, but unless you’re in that line of work, that really isn’t that much time. So, what about the rest of the time. Whether in person or virtually, there are some skills you will need to be successful at whatever you put your mind to. You will of course need the hard, technical, tangible skills to do your job well, but you’ll need to be able to use soft, personal, intangible skills to really excel.
You might be wondering what soft skills do I need? Well, different situations call for different skills. Different industries, roles, and environments all play a part in determining the answer to that question.
Here are a few you may find useful to learn more about today.
Adaptability is being able to adjust to new situations.
Communication is being able to send and receive information clearly.
Teamwork is being able to function in a group.
Collaboration is being able to exchange ideas with others to create something else.
To name several more, there is listening persuasion, conflict resolution, time management, problem solving, and decision making. The list goes on. If this has sparked your interest, I encourage an internet search to learn more.
It would be difficult to fully talk about soft skills with out mentioning a specific set of them. You may have heard of Leadership Skills. To put this particular set of skills into context it is being able to promote, encourage and direct others to use their soft skills effectively. This set of skills requires you be able to use soft skills and help others develop soft skills while simultaneously fostering an environment where the hard skills can flourish.
Just like hard skills, you can learn soft skills too. In order to develop your soft skills, you should start with an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. It will also be helpful to understand your communication preferences, personality type, and how you like to interact with others. It is easy to discover and develop things you are comfortable doing already. It is just as important to understand and develop what you aren’t. There are assessments and courses online or many books to read on developing these skills. Another resource that may be available is your human resources department. They may be able to refer you to a good program, describe any educational benefits you may have, or refer you to a coach. By recognizing these opportunities for improvement, you will be showing initiative and setting yourself up for a stronger role in the company.
To create the right balance for success you have to blend hard and soft skills. No matter how developed your soft skills are, you and your company can benefit from developing them further. As I often say, there is always something to learn.