Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured, such as typing speed, proficiency in a foreign language, computer programming or the ability to use software programmes. These are the sort of skills that are learned in a classroom or through further studies and are often listed in your curriculum vitae.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are not tangible and are difficult to quantify. Some examples of soft skills include verbal and written communication, analytical thinking, and the ability to listen. All careers need some soft skills to make one’s hard skills more valuable, and there are several reasons why soft skills are considered to be more important than hard skills in the workplace. One reason soft skills are so sought after is that they help facilitate human connections and are the key to building relationships. Skills such as listening, collaborating with others, presenting ideas and communicating with team members are all highly valued in the modern workplace. Strong soft skills ensure a productive, collaborative and healthy work environment, all vital attributes for organisations in an increasingly competitive world. The future workplace is going to rely more and more on soft skills. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, tasks that require hard skills are on the decline, making soft skills a key differentiator in the workplace.
Here are seven soft skills that are important in being successful and getting ahead in your career:
- Communication skills
Written and verbal communication skills are of top importance in the workplace because the ability to communicate well has a direct impact on how people perceive you. Good communication skills are essential to presenting your ideas well, and workers are more productive, and deliver better quality work, when they know how to communicate with their managers and colleagues. Communicating well also facilitates in building solid relationships with co-workers and, in addition, it has been found that having friends in the workplace is beneficial to job satisfaction.
Success in the workplace is typically seen as the end result of a group of people working together toward a common goal. When a group of employees are able to blend their diverse talents, everyone wins. What’s more, the ability to collaborate with your colleagues serves to enhance the quality of your work. Employers look to team players to help build an agreeable office culture. This helps in retaining staff with the knock-on effect of attracting top talent.
Modern work environments change at such a rate that employers need staff members who can easily adapt to industry-specific advancements and innovations, who serve to keep the company current. At the same time, things do not always go according to plan and successful employees are the ones who know how to be flexible and find solutions when problems arise. For example, adapting to technological change without clinging to old systems is really important for people who wish to be seen as being capable of changing and meeting new challenges.
- Problem solving
Knowing how to think on your feet can make you very valuable to your employer. When something goes wrong being a problem solver will get you noticed. Companies rely on problem solvers to navigate unexpected challenges. So, when a problem crops up, first think through how best to address it before bringing the problem to your boss’ attention, and then approach your boss with a solution, not just the problem.
- Analytical thinking
Organisations need critical thinkers—those people who bring a fresh perspective and offer intuitive ideas to help the company gain a competitive advantage or to improve internal processes. Organisations also need employees who are able to analyse information and put it to good use. In these ways being an analytical thinker can make you a better worker all-round.
- Conflict resolution
Issues are bound to crop up in a group of people who work together, and being able to resolve issues with co-workers will help you maintain healthy relationships with colleagues. Being able to work through disagreements with people in a constructive manner is an indication of a person’s maturity—as well as of their leadership potential. Employees like this help to promote a positive and collaborative workplace.
- Leadership ability
It has been said that management is about overseeing systems and processes, but leadership is about directing, influencing and empowering people. An effective, a business leader is expected to have good verbal communication skills, to be a good listener and to have good problem solving abilities. Employers look out for employees with leadership potential because these are the workers who will one day be taking over the reins and building on the company’s legacy. Being a leader isn’t just about getting people to do what you want. Leadership entails inspiring and helping others reach their full potential.
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