Soft Skills are the key skills needed to getting ahead in your career, if not life in general. Soft skills are the interpersonal communication skills that allow you to work well with others, perform well in teams, develop strong working relationships and separate you from other experts in your field. Whilst most people can learn how to do a job, learning soft skills can be harder to develop as they require empathy, strong communication skills, genuinely listening to others and saying the right things at the right time.
Below we have highlighted some of the very best soft skills you will need to make the most out of your career.
Communication is the cornerstone of soft skills as it determines how well you interact with others, from family friends, working colleagues to strangers in the street. It doesn't matter whether your communicating face-to-face, on the phone, via social media, via text or email, what you say and how you say it will be the key to decide if it is a successful conversation or not.
Being a strong clear communicator always people to understand your point of view quickly and can portray you as carrying strong leadership skills.
Follow these tips to help you develop your communication skills:
- Make eye contact
- Talking slowly and clearly
- Maintain confident body language
- Practice formal and informal conversation speaking
- Always proof read your writing before emailing someone, making sure message is oft yet clear
Being part of any successful will require you to be a team player. Teamwork is always a better way to work as people bring different skills into a team which transfers into better results. No one can do everything at work, so whether your on the bottom rung of your career ladder or you're the boss, you will need to work well with others to improve your performance.
The key to working in a success team is to:
- Make everyone feel like they have a voice and their opinion counts
- Keep an open mind
- Listen to the ideas of others
- Value others ideas
- Share your ideas
- Share the workload evenly
Listen to criticism and learn from it
Good communicators are good listeners, even when what they hear isn't always positive. Cronstructive criticism is the best way to learn more about yourself as you might not always appear to others how you think. But as with teamwork, it is important to listen to others and value their opinions when they give you feedback.
Constructive critism is a time of self reflection and can make you think about changing how you work with others.
Tips on how to deal with criticism include:
- Listen carefully to the advice given
- Think about what has been said and why
- Be open to new ways of working
- Turn a negative into a positive
- Thank the person for their feedback
- Give yourself time to think about how to learn from the experience
People love to be around positive people. Positive people are optimistic and have the ability to make others feel positive and motivated. When they are excited about an idea and they share this effectively with others, they too will feel positive and motivated about the idea. This is what leaders and innovators like the late great Steve Jobs and serial entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson have been able to do time and again.
The best way to show positivity at work is to be:
- Have fun and make others feel good
- Don't give up when the going gets tough
- Prioritise tasks and keep onto of your workload
Have a sense of humour
They say laughter is the best form of medicine. Someone who can make people laugh and feel at happy in their work are an invaluable part of any business. I'm not talking about an office clown, someone who wears 'wacky' ties or takes the piss out of people. I'm taking about people who can laugh at themselves and have a sense of humour in any stressful situation. These people are great at reducing the stress of work.
- Some tips on how to keep a sense of humour at work include
- Find the funny side of different situations
- Find a time in the day to make someone laugh
- Always think, worst things happen at sea
- Take time to talk and laugh with others
- Stay positive
Being flexible and open-minded is important at work as no two days are typically the same. Being able to adapt to different situations that are thrown at you not only keeps you sharp but it also allows you to think creativey and be rational and calm in most situations. Others at work will feed of your sense of calm and this will show you be to the 'go to' guy or girl when things get hard, making you a good leader in a variety of situations.
Ways to be flexible include:
- Be open-minded
- Listen to others
- Be self-aware
- Be able to foresee problems
Genuinely listening to others makes them feel important and in term they will like you for taking the time to hear their issues. Listening to others improves the lines of communication, relationships, improves problem solving and increases the level of empathy with others. Being at effective listener requires you to:
- Fully invest your time and energy in the conversation
- Empathise with others
- Keep an open mind
- Make eye contact with the speaker
- Only give feedback when they have stopped talking
- Remember, not all issues can be solved straight away
Learn to multi-task and prioritise
Being able to multi-task boosts productivity. And the great thing is, the more you multi-task the better you'll get at it. Make sure that you learn to prioritise based on three questions: Who needs it? When is it needed? How long will it take?
Some methods of improving multi-tasking and productivity include:
- Plan ahead
- Group similar task together
- Write down what is needed
- Keep a calendar of when work is due
The important thing with learning soft skills is that you should use them every day. Take the time to talk to others in meaningful ways. Listen to the issues of others and keep a sense of humour in even the most stressful of situations.