Soft skills - what are they? How do I even know if I have any?
I totally understand that you’ve spent so much time at school and uni, working through all those texts books and working on your statistics and analysis skills and you think you’re on the right track to get a job when leaving uni… yes?
Well one thing that university does not teach you but life does is the all important soft skills required to work together with others. Working effectively with others is a critical skill to create high performing teams and ultimately become successful.
Some people believe that these soft skills are innate - that you’re born with them. But this is definitely not the case. Soft skills are learned, taught and finely tuned over time. You need to work on them, practice, fail and try again just like your university studies. I encourage you to spend some more time working on the soft skills required to be successful.
Here are my top soft skills required for the workplace. What are yours?
Effective communication– not only talking but listening and also in body language, communicating effectively is the most important soft skill required in your role. Practice, practice, practice. Ask questions to get the bottom of things - said and unsaid, allow others to get their point across without interrupting, listen actively,
Taking on-board constructive criticism – willingly take feedback from others, good bad or otherwise, and also practice providing feedback to others. Both are as difficult as each other. Your pride gets in the way. Think about how you’d like to be given feedback - delicately and focusing on the action rather than the person is very important.
Working as a team. As they say “there is no I in team but there is an M and an E.” Make sure the M&E (i.e. you) is good to work with. Cooperation, a can do attitude and offer great leadership skills.
Flexibility. This soft skill is a must. Adaptable, agile and compromising – it’s important.
Creativity and resourcefulness. I personally love working with those who constantly throw out new ideas, test and learn new things, fail positively, think a bit left field and are great problem solvers. Whilst not everything sticks, it’s the open-minded attitude that counts. It’s gold!
Being book smart is one thing, but it does not necessarily mean you are a great employee.
Practice and receive feedback from others on my top 5 soft skills and you’ll make a better, more well-rounded person and more effective to work with.