Do you master the essential 5 Soft Skills for career success?
Why do some people have the technical skills they need for a job but struggle to advance in their career? The answer may lie in soft skills.
What are soft skills, and why are they important?
SOFT SKILLS VS HARD SKILLS
Hard skills are specific, concrete or technical abilities that are easy to measure. They are usually measurable.
For example: Simone is a hairdresser with a successful hair salon.
She is well trained and knows how to cut and colour hair. She knows which hair styles are flattering and on trend. She possesses all of the hard skills necessary to be a hairdresser.
Soft skills refer to a person’s ability to work with other people. They are interpersonal skills and include communication, teamwork, leadership, confidence, work ethic and having a positive attitude.
These social and emotional skills have been the key to Simone’s successful hair salon.
How do I learn soft skills?
It is easy to learn hard skills – educational institutions and online programs can teach you web programming, cooking, budgeting, foreign languages and even taxidermy.
But there are very few places to learn the soft skills we need for success in our careers and relationships.
New Reflections offers over 20 workshops for groups and individuals that teach soft skills.
Communication is not just the abilty to talk. It is knowing what to say in different contexts, and how to express yourself around people from diverse backgrounds.
Communication is also about listening and interpreting what people are saying, using your body language to convey positivity and being persuasive. Communication skills are vital for career and relationship success.
Simone uses listening skills and body language skills to understand what her clients really want and uses those insights to sell clients additional services and products from her salon.
Tip: Making appropriate eye contact with people and giving them your full attention, helps them feel safe and liked.
New Reflections has tailored programs to improve your Body Language and Communication; and Active Listening skills.
Working in a team, as a leader or not, means dealing with difficult people and challenging situations. It also involves coaching team members to solve problems and work hard. Being assertive and negotiating for win-win situations makes a close and productive team.
Simone is able to motivate her staff to work effectively as a team by using soft skills such as active listening. Staff members are willing to pitch in when they can – for example, by working overtime for late clients – because they want the business to succeed.
Tip: Communicate assertively by using ‘I’ statements. Eg. “I feel we all need to get to work on time.”
3. Confidence & Assertiveness
Confidence is key to a successful career. You cannot fake confidence; it needs to come from within.
Low self-esteem, or a lack of confidence, may be seen in people who are overly critical of themselves, judge themselves poorly against other people or use negative language to describe themselves.
When we are confident, others feel comfortable around us and trust us. It takes time to improve confidence. Lots of people need support to improve their self-talk, change their environment and create healthy habits.
Simone knows that her hard work has been a part of her salon’s success. She trusts her abilities and when she makes business mistakes, she can learn from them without putting herself down.
Tip: Set a realistic goal and devise a strategy to achieve it. Keep the goals small and achievable – baking a cake, creating a vegetable garden, talking to someone on the train. The more goals you complete, the greater your confidence will become.
New Reflections offers a Self Confidence and Assertiveness workshop.
4. Work Ethic
Having a good work ethic is not just about working hard: it is also believing that hard work is valuable.
Setting up routines, being punctual, maintaining habits, presenting yourself professionally and being disciplined show that you prioritise your work.
Simone’s great work ethic is not seen in long hours at the salon, but rather in the small details: she presents herself professionally, keeps the salon organised and tailor’s services to her client’s needs.
Tip: To improve your concentration, use a “Timebox” technique. Give yourself a set period of time to work on a task (from 5 minutes to 2 hours, depending on what you can handle).
5. Positive Attitude
Having a positive attitude is a key soft skill, as it encourages effective problem solving and will make you much happier in all areas of your life.
Negative thinking can stunt personal relationships, career progression and make you difficult to be around.
It takes concerted effort to change negative thinking habits that have developed over many years, but gratitude practices, smiling, meditation and finding a mantra can all improve your thinking and problem solving.
Tip: Create a ‘Positivity Box” - fill a shoebox with reminders of everything you are grateful for. Photos, letters, lists, quotes and small souvenirs from happy times can all go in. When you feel yourself being negative, you can look inside the box and reconnect with your positive side.
New Reflections has a workshop on The Power of Positivism: Towards Solutions.
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