Soft skills are an essential part of any successful career, but developing soft skills in the workplace doesn’t come easily to everyone. But what are soft skills, anyway Soft skills boil down to your emotional intelligence; your ability to understand and work with those around you, making you a team member who adds value to the company not only through your position’s required hard skills (let’s say, programming or graphic design), but also through an elevated positivity that exudes from your personality and character.
These skills are often brushed aside, mostly because they are so difficult to quantify; good humor or listening skills aren’t necessarily aspects that shine on any résumé. But when too many people in a workplace or team lack strong soft skills, the effects are immediate—a general ineffectiveness of communication and interaction, leading to decreased productivity and happiness in the workplace.
Here are some of the most important soft skills a successful team member requires.
5 Soft Skills and the Value They Add
- Emotional Awareness: This is all about understanding your emotions and the emotions of those around you. Though it may come as second nature to some people, for others there is often an innate difficulty in truly recognizing how you feel and how your team members feel.
Benefits: People who can recognize immediately their emotions and the causes of their emotions can better understand situations more clearly. And if they can identify the emotions of those around them, they can empathize and sympathize, and act in a way that will be less destructive or harmful to their relationships. Over time through this soft skill development, bonds will develop easier between those who are emotionally aware, increasing the trust and likability between team members.
- Being Good-Natured: While this doesn’t necessarily mean that you must be totally nice (because who is?), it does mean that workplaces benefit from the presence of good-natured individuals more so than their bad-natured peers. An office with negative people definitely needs to focus on developing soft skills in the workplace.
Benefits: With a developed but mature sense of humor and the ability to avoid conflicts over petty issues, an office will steer away from the familiar toxicity that can choke any workplace to death. Learn to be inclusive, not exclusive; help others out and have a positive view towards the world, or at least to the people in your office. A well-intentioned joke every now and then never hurt anyone.
- Confidence: What more can be said about confidence? It’s in everything you do and say—your appearance, your behavior, even the work you submit and the simple ways in which you hold yourself. It can be easy to confuse confidence for arrogance, but the line is very clear: Confidence is the ability to recognize one’s own abilities and flaws; arrogance is when you recognize or exaggerate your abilities but refuse to accept your flaws.
Benefits: People want to work with confident people. A healthy amount of confidence is attractive because people feed off of it and become more confident in themselves. When one team member can be influentially confident, it raises the general confidence of the entire team or office. Not only are people more willing to follow the lead of confident leaders, but they are also more willing to model themselves after you and step up.
- Adaptability: If you follow the old “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage, then you’re definitely not going to have a good time in any modern workplace. Adaptability is being able to say “Yes” when a team leader or superior asks if you can do something that is slightly out of your job description (but not to the point of abuse, of course). Developing soft skills in the workplace like adaptability can add tons of value to you as a team member.
Benefits: Now more than ever, companies require the flexibility to adapt to an ever-changing market, regardless of your industry. With global and local competition vying for the same audiences, the ability to adapt and work in other positions shows your team that you aren’t just there for a paycheck; you’re not a cog with a single fixed function, but someone who wants to help the company succeed.
- Listen and Communicate: Developing soft skills in the workplace relies entirely on this: listening and communicating. Simple, right? Yet so many people fail at truly hearing others; hearing not only what they say but also what they aren’t saying.
Benefits: By listening and communicating as well as you can, you not only give information the freedom and luxury to breathe properly in your team, but you also ease up any tensions that may build up from team members who may feel left out or unheard.
Soft Skills Training: How Do You Do It?
Developing soft skills in the workplace isn’t a simple matter, but there are some methods of soft skills training that is proven to work. Some of these corporate soft skills training methods include:
- Seminars and Programs: Sometimes, all it takes is a wake-up call to get people to realize that they aren’t being as sociable, communicative, or good-natured as they could be. Seminars and training programs offered at local events or conventions would be healthy for your team members who need to see for themselves that they need to improve their emotional intelligence. As unquantifiable as the aspects on the soft skills’ list can be, it is difficult to convince people that they require some soft skills learning and development. It is a realization they must come to on their own.
- Periodic Feedback: Once your team members are on track towards their soft skill development, the best way for you to help them as a boss or superior is to offer periodic feedback. Soft skills training is an incredibly slow process because it requires a change of personality and habit rather than a change of knowledge. Guide your team members down the right path and don’t punish them if they veer away every now and then. After some time, they should be well on their way towards possessing a set of effective soft skills.
- Be A Role Model: How can anyone take direction from you if they don’t believe that you are following your own advice? Be the person you want everyone on your team to be. If your interpersonal skills or emotional awareness could use some improvement (and this will take some honest introspection on your part), then attend the same soft skills development training attended by the rest of your team.
- Team Building Exercises and Retreats: This is something a lot of people look forward to, regardless of their industry or field. Outdoor retreats can liven up any team—maybe a resort, a beach, a hotel; anything, as long as you get out of the office environment. Why? Because sometimes we fall into a routine and think of the office and the people who work there as separate from the real versions of us.
People need to see their co-workers outside of the office and bond with them as people, not just as team members or associates. Once your team establishes connections with each other outside of their work responsibilities, it will be easier to recognize each other as people and friends.
- eLearning: But of course, there’s no reason to get out of the office for soft skills training when your team can do it at their desks. With eLearning tools, soft skills training courses and training modules are available to any company that wishes to improve the compatibility and interactivity of the people in its work environment. eLearning has proven to be one of the best options there is for developing soft skills in the workplace and has helped countless companies with getting their team members on the same page.
No, developing soft skills isn’t an easy task at all, but is it necessary? Definitely. An office with a high level of soft skills throughout its various branches is like a brand-new car engine working at maximum efficiency.
And remember: like any car engine, soft skills can gradually diminish over time if left unmaintained. With regular corporate soft skills training in the workplace, you can be assured that your team is working positively and productively together.