Until very recently technical ability and experience were the only things that companies looked for when hiring new people. However, research has shown the importance of soft skills on job performance and more importantly the bottom line. Contrary to popular belief, being an expert in your field does not guarantee you regular employment. Companies are now demanding more than just job expertise, which means you must also fine-tune your soft skills.
Why are soft skills important?
In any company, big or small success depends largely on the ability of staff to collaborate on projects in order to achieve the necessary milestone for reaching objectives. The reality is that as soon as people have to work together there is sure to be a difference of opinion or some form of conflict. This is not necessarily a bad thing as different ideas could help to create better solutions, if these individuals have the necessary soft skills to manage this. If not, it will only result in wasted time, strained work relationships, and ultimately failure of the project.
Important soft skills to develop:
The focus has shifted for hiring managers to look for more than just competency areas as they’ve realised that culture fit are just as important as the expertise required to succeed at a job. Developing your soft skills could be the key to landing your next job opportunity.
1. Communication skills:
A topic that has been discussed many time and although this seems obvious, the ability to communicate clearly both in written and verbal form is vital for any job. You need to be able to get your message across to a variety of people and to ensure there is a clear understanding of what you require from the other person.
2. Growth mind-set
In order to excel in any career this is an important skill to develop. It will allow you to face difficult situations and challenges as learning opportunities. It is important to continue to grow your experience and people skills as you move upwards in your career.
The ability to understand the unspoken cues and underlying nuances of other people’s communication and action is a valuable skill to develop. We often focus so much on our own messages and what we want to communicate to others that we don’t watch and try and understand where other individuals are coming from. If you misinterpret other’s intention, you can easily encounter difficulties dealing with people and not even know why.
4. Cool headedness:
Staying calm in challenging situations especially when it comes to conflict will serve you well in your career. It’s important to keep your emotions in check in any situation and to approach problems with an open mind.
5. Pro-active problem solving:
Any work situation requires a certain amount of problem solving. Being pro-active and offering solutions will win you favour not only with your boss but also with your colleagues.
6. Negotiation skills:
The key to good negotiations is to create a 'win-win' outcome where both sides feel they have gained something positive through the process and both sides feel their point of view has been considered. Negotiation is essential in your career but also in your daily lives.
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