Whether you are a waiter in a local cafe or the CEO of a large company, soft skills are what will set you apart from the crowd and make you a successful and desirable collaborator in the work environment. According to research, 97% of employers claim that soft skills are equal if not more important than hard skills and that the reason why an employee does not last more than 18 months in the company is due to poor soft skills (Janove, 2020).
But let’s start from the beginning; what exactly are soft and what are hard skills?
By definition, soft skills are interpersonal skills or abilities that relate to the way you work and communicate with other people. Within the work environment, soft skills are complementary to hard skills, which are measurable and include knowledge and professional skills. Sociologists often use the term soft skills to describe the emotional intelligence quotient (EQ), as opposed to the intelligence quotient (IQ). Hard skills, unlike soft skills, are acquired mainly through formal and non-formal education and are easier to develop, while soft skills are reduced to what we are, how we were raised, and what we learned while being part of different environments.
For better understanding, let’s take the example of software developers; his/her hard skill is, for example, to create an application, and his/her soft skill is to successfully delegate work to other colleagues and to present that application to others.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills include a range of skills; but the most important ones are communication skills, critical thinking, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, teamwork, leadership, work ethics, time management, and adaptability.
Time management – refers to our ability to organize our own time as efficiently as possible. Good organization, planning, goal setting, and prioritization skills are also related to this soft skill.
Communication skills- are a tool thanks to which we adequately express our ideas, needs, and feelings. These skills are among the main soft skills and we include written, verbal communication (and public speaking), active listening, and constructive feedback.
Adaptability- Evolution has proved that the species that survive are the ones that adapt most easily to change, and adaptability in this context means exactly that; our ability to adapt to changes and new conditions and adequately continue to function in them. We are aware that work environments are constantly changing and some of the valuesassociated with adaptability are calmness, self-control, optimism, and motivation.
Problem-solving – refers to analytical and creative problem-solving. Skills that are closely related to this soft skill are analysis, logical thinking, the power of observation, and decision making.
Teamwork is one of the main soft skills that allow us to work effectively within groups. Skills that help us to be good team "players" are the skills of mediation, conflict resolution, assertiveness, and "open mind" or openness to different ideas and attitudes from ours.
Leadership is a soft skill that refers to the ability to mentor, lead or coach others. Regardless of the industry and profession, you are in, bosses will always hire a candidate who shows leadership characteristics rather than those who do not because such people show initiative and are more willing to invest in company growth than people who do not have this quality. Skills related to leadership are authenticity, charisma, cordiality, management skills, openness to risk, self-confidence, etc.
Interpersonal skills - come down to how we communicate with others how we treat them and what impression we leave on others. These skills include, for example, empathy, humor, tolerance, kindness, tact, and many others.
Work ethic- refers to a set of moral principles related to valuation and commitment to one's work. This group of soft skills also includes responsibility, discipline, and professionalism.
Critical thinking - regardless of the job, each boss expects a certain level of this skill from the employees, which comes down to analyzing, thinking, and making adequate decisions and conclusions promptly. Critical thinking skills are curiosity, flexibility, and creativity.
For this text, we also conducted a survey that showed that most of our coworkers who are employers believe that soft skills are extremely important when choosing a candidate for the position. One interesting comment from our coworker was that the employer practices his/her soft skills by dealing with employees whose soft skills are rather undeveloped.
How to develop soft skills?
Many studies show that of the two candidates who are equally qualified for a position, the one who showed basic soft skills in the interview is more likely to get the job than the candidate who didn’t. In general, people with developed soft skills are more successful in all environments. Everything can be learned, improved, including soft skills. What we need is to be open to learning, to have a desire for personal growth and development, to notice which skills are weakest in this context, and to be open to criticism. Soft skills are skills that are desirable not only in the work environment but also in family and partnership relationships.
Work ethics- refers to a set of moral principles related to valuation and commitment to one's work. This group of soft skills also includes responsibility, discipline, and professionalism.
Critical thinking- regardless of the job, each boss expects a certain level of this skill from the employees, which comes down to analyzing, thinking, making adequate decisions and conclusions promptly. Critical thinking skills are curiosity, flexibility, and creativity.
Several sites and applications through which you can improve your soft skills are:
https://www.skillsoft.com/ - offers over 180,000 courses, videos, and books on soft skills
And if you are looking for a friendly and working environment in which you can develop and practice your soft skills, then do not hesitate to visit the tershouse coworking space, where we all grow together, learn from each other and practice these skills daily. Can you imagine a better environment for soft skills training than a space where there are so many grumpy heads at the same time ?! 😊