Soft skills are highly underrated but regardless of the industry, they can be essential for career growth. Many soft skills can be taught and some are instinctual, but when it comes down to a group of people vying for a promotion or a top project, you all have qualifications, you all have experience. Soft skills are what sets you apart. We have divided what we think are the top essential soft skills according to “Soft Skills That Can Be Taught” and “Soft Skills You Can Teach Yourself”.
Soft Skills That Can Be Taught
A projects success is rarely dependent on one person’s efforts. Employers not only want to retain top talent but they want a friendly culture that attracts even greater talent. Success is built on a talented group of people working towards a common goal, and collaboration allows for the essential sharing of knowledge, skills and ideas. Collaborative environments instill a sense of purpose and belonging - people are inclined to gravitate towards environments that make them feel safe, included and encouraged.
Problem Solving Skills
Solutions are rarely given to you on a silver platter and companies rely on their top problem-solvers (and talent) to navigate rough waters. A good way to get noticed is to approach your boss with a solution rather than just the problem. Brainstorm, collaborate and come up with ways to solve problems before they become catastrophes, unless the problem in question absolutely requires a superior’s immediate attention in which case we suggest you get a move on!
Let’s clear something up, leadership is not just about telling people what to do. It is the ability to inspire, encourage and direct others to their full potential and in turn, best ideas. Your superiors will always look for people with leadership material as they will take over the reigns one day leading teams, departments and perhaps even entire organisations. Volunteering for internship projects, for example, is a great way to display leadership without stepping on toes. It shows you can not only lead others but can also shoulder extra responsibility. Just make sure you are ready for the extra commitment.
Communication & Listening Skills
All of these skills will be for naught if you do not know how to communicate with your colleagues, team members or superiors. You could have an incredible idea but no way of getting it across to others, a well thought out sales pitch that you just cannot, well, pitch. There are various courses that assist in this regard but start small, take the opportunity to speak up occasionally in meetings and discussions, then do it a little more, then a little more, until you find yourself a regular and useful contributor to team discussions.
Do not be deterred by strong personalities, some people will always have a lot to say. Speak up, speak with confidence, and if you are already a strong communicator, ensure that you know when to shut your mouth and listen! Listening to others can lead to better ideas and better performing team members who are happy and willing to contribute to a project.
Soft Skills That You Can Teach Yourself
Accepting Constructive Criticism
No one is perfect. Well-reasoned , valid feedback is essential and there is always room for improvement. Accept it and grow from it. Do however, understand the difference between what grows you and what discourages you. Constructive criticism leads to growth, being belittled, does not.
We all have bad days and it’s easy to act on pure emotion and make poor decisions. When you feel overwhelmed it is always best to think before making any important decisions. Talk to a friend or trusted colleague before sending that rash email. It can save you from making many mistakes in the future.
It’s simple. Do what you say you are going to do and if it goes wrong, take full responsibility for it. Further than that, once you send out an email detailing a task, do not assume that your job is done. Follow up and make sure that others are holding up their end. If you are ever in doubt, it’s simple, you said what you were going to do - so do it.
Find the time to connect with the world outside. We tend to get caught up in the bubble that is our professional lives and look no further. Volunteer, travel, further your education, attend conferences or join a book club. Explore a little and you will find that your mindset towards others will change for the better.