Career Tips

How to Refine Your “Soft Skills” to Prosper in Your Career

Date Posted: 06/11/2015

Have you ever wondered why some co-worker(s), who are only as good as you, are always favoured by managers? If you have, it was probably because of their soft skills.  These soft skills are  not about always having a nice smile, pleasant nature and friendliness nor about telling the boss how much they admire him (when they don’t) and also not about telling a female colleague that she is beautiful (if she is not).

Also known as EQ (emotional-intelligence quotient), these skills are those special personality attributes that determine a person’s positive interaction with other people. This is a combination of facets like:

good social graces/etiquette;
skillful communication and language skills;
enthusiastic team spirit;
leadership traits;
negotiation skills;
customer servicing values;
constructive attitude;
eagerness and motivation; and
the knack for mixing with everyone and cooperating with others.

All critical to support professional skills of job roles that enable success in career and life.

While just a few persons have the gift of natural soft skills, others do not progress in their careers because they don’t have these skills. How a person manages relationships determines their ability to interact, inspire, develop and influence others. Recruiters abroad feel that the right talent should no longer be assessed strictly on the basis of technical qualifications because soft skills are a window into a candidate’s real nature. Candidates without good soft skills and people skills hinder their ability to progress.

Soft skills are difficult to acquire, but here are some tips for improving yours:

Internal Soft Skills
These are about how you see and handle yourself compared to others. It’s also about controlling your ego, attitude and your emotions in reacting to different situations:

Monitor your emotional responses for stability and mental maturity. Understand and look inside yourself to see why you feel and react in certain ways so you can control the wrong reactions.
Learn how to recognize the cues and unspoken nuances of what others are communicating. Make sure you don’t misread the underlying causes when you have to confront difficult people.
Reflect on your own thoughts and feelings — on what irritates, embarrasses, or frustrates you. Focus on what motivates and inspires you. You can do this by being aware that every situation is neutral.  It is your thoughts about them that make them good or bad.
Focus on what motivates and inspires you.  Free yourself from any mental/emotional baggage that you carry and learn to see every situation as a chance to learn and improve.
Give up trying to feel superior by focusing on the flaws of others. Rather, believe more in your own abilities with calm self-confidence.
Face up to stress by understanding that a situation is as it is, it could not be otherwise.  So accept it and remain unruffled whatever the trigger.
Remember that bad situations always pass so never give up and admit defeat. The bad situation will pass.  Fight disappointment consistently and pull yourself together rapidly after any set back.  You can’t afford to brood and slip back, so ignore the temporary turbulence and move yourself forward to your long-term goals.

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External Soft Skills
These are people skills for interacting and working with others to build meaningful relationships. Understanding how others’ see you and your work will help you to see how their actions affect you:

Pay the highest attention to your interaction with your boss and other seniors. Learn to work with seniors according to their perceptions and expectations of you.  Handle difficult people with tact by first reading their present state of mind and then present your proposal.
Pay attention to your communication, verbal and non-verbal, by really listening to others and express your ideas appropriately. Improve on your presentation at meetings and make them interesting by using points rather than dull read-outs.
Pay attention to teamwork by working collectively with others who have  different skills, personalities and work styles to achieve team results. Don’t only worry about your own individual results.
Pay attention and involve others by understanding their feelings and build trust in relationships and friendship with people.
Invite feedback on different points of view to reach common conclusions. Be logical to establish credibility and encourage others to accept your ideas if you really believe they present the best solution.  But don’t be stubborn and insist that your ideas are accepted.
Pay attention to improving your team skills for motivating a group with varied skills and work styles. Refine your leadership skills by inspiring a vision and ideas that catch everyone’s interest and willingness to work towards a shared commitment. Learn how to teach and guide with sensitivity which can help others further their careers.
Pay attention to handling difficult/unexpected situations with calm. Learn to anticipate problem areas and devise fall-back plans in advance.
If you have a strong point of view, when arguing with another point of view, persuade the other side to accept your opinion rather than to try to force them to accept your point of view.
Pay attention to the need for networking that can enrich your information base and enable you to be ready for every situation.

An obvious conclusion from all the above should suggest first, the need for practice, and secondly, accepting that the most important personality attribute for developing good soft skill is a positive attitude, because in the long run it is soft skills that can help you to move ahead in your career.

See also:
What a Good Resume Should Show
Dont Let A Slack Co-Worker Stress You Out
Strategies for Overcoming Interview Nerves

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