Soft skills: they sound like they’d be easier to learn than the more difficult to attain “hard skills.” After all, hard skills require concrete, measurable, and observable expertise in a given area. For example, programmers have to know programming languages to do their job. Likewise, heavy construction workers have to be able to operate machinery with dexterity and ease to do their work correctly. In general, the development of hard skills is perceived as more strenuous. But that’s not necessarily the case. We can have all the technical expertise needed to perform any job, but if we lack the skills to deal with other people, our productivity will suffer. Basically, soft skills correlate to the human element of work.
Because the benefits of soft skills are hard to measure, their value can be just as hard to master as so-called hard skills. But they don’t have to be. With some knowledge and some practice, soft skills can be accessible to everyone. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Communicate clearly and assertively. Communication is the most important soft skill, in general. In a workplace setting, it matters even more. Without effective communication, companies wouldn’t be able to run. From daily work assignments to board meetings, the ability to clearly communicate will help employees, supervisors, and members of the C-Suite alike avoid misunderstanding, build rapport among coworkers, and increase productivity. Businesses are at their best when everyone can communicate clearly.
2. Cultivate your teamwork skills. While it’s great that you can do excellent work by yourself, being able to work well in a team is an even more critical skill to have. Most significant work assignments require multiple people working on them, anyway, so it’s best that you learn how to work with others as soon as possible. Doing so will make work projects go much more smoothly.
3. Think critically. Critical thinking means that you can analyze a situation and make sound decisions based on your analysis. It sounds simple enough, and, to some extent, there shouldn’t be as much mystery surrounding critical thinking as there is. However, the more complicated a situation, the more difficult it is to analyze and evaluate information and then act on what you’ve observed. Developing better critical thinking skills will take time, but it’s time well-invested.
4. Be able to give and take feedback. That includes both positive and negative feedback. Just as you want to be able to provide honest, positive feedback and receive it, you also should be able to give criticism gracefully and take it humbly. If you can give and take both positive and negative feedback, you will encourage good work and correct subpar work. Both are invaluable to a functioning workplace.
5. Learn to manage conflict. Conflict is inevitable. It’s ineffective to try and avoid it. So, what do you do when it finally arrives? Do you shy away from it, prolonging the problem? Or do you confront it respectfully, to solve the problem and move on? The second choice is far superior. Managing conflict isn’t easy, but, over time, it’ll come more naturally to you if you start to make the right choices sooner rather than later.
6. Manage your time. You’re getting paid to be at work. It’s a dishonest work practice to spend your time doing something other than working. In today’s digitally mediated work environments, it’s very easy to be distracted by the internet, social media, and smartphones. There’s nothing wrong with these things in their own right, but resist the temptation to use them when you’re at work. Overall, try to eliminate common distractors from your work environment so you can use company time honestly.
7. Empathize. Everyone you come into contact with at work, like you, is a human being, so make sure to treat them that way. Celebrate with coworkers when they receive good news, like a promotion or an award for outstanding job performance. If you have to deliver bad news to a coworker, do it with the understanding that it won’t be easy for them to digest. Most of all, always be considerate of the other people in your workplace.
Soft skills are good for business. They’re also learnable. If you’re searching for great soft skills training for your employees, look no further. Check out our on-demand course library for your business skills training solution.