The Growing Importance of Soft SkillsOctober 23, 2012
Communication and relationship building are the lifeblood of business, and how you relate to others is what etiquette is all about. More and more companies understand that in order to gain a competitive advantage they need people on their team who can handle themselves in social and professional situations. In addition to having employees who are good at what they DO (hard skills), they need employees who possess strong soft skills.
Soft skills refer to those personal qualities, habits, attitudes and social graces that make you an easy person to be around, and work with.
Some of the most common soft skills employers are seeking and will be assessing you on include:
- Good communication skills - In today’s digital age, we’re so accustomed to communicating virtually – through text messages and short emails – that we have less opportunity to stretch our verbal and nonverbal communication muscles. Having the power to effectively communicate with anyone will help you build collaborative relationships, gain a competitive advantage and grow your business.
- Positive attitude – Nobody wants to work with a “Debbie Downer!” Having a positive attitude is an important soft skill to have. Being optimistic and upbeat will get you noticed—in a good way!
- Strong work ethic - Being motivated and dedicated to “getting the job done” is a trait that will help you stand out next to your competition. Looking for a promotion? Showcasing your ability to conquer any situation, no matter what, is something higher-ups are paying attention to.
- Good manners and social etiquette – Good manners are not passé. Give yourself the “etiquette edge” and distinguish yourself from the competition.
- Time management abilities – Knowing how to organize and prioritize tasks – and use your time wisely – is something you will benefit from both personally and professionally. To business owners, time = money.
- Problem-solving skills - Are you resourceful? Able to creatively solve problems that arise? Being a good leader depends on being to effectively manage a crisis and provide solid solutions.
- Ability to be a team player - I’m sure you’ve been asked this question at every interview, but it’s an important one. Being able to work independently is great, but collaborating with different personalities often poses a challenge for some. Knowing how to cooperate—and take the lead is crucial.
- Self-confidence / self-awareness - Sounds like a “no-brainer,” but if you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll be hard pressed to convince others of your abilities.
- Ability to accept and learn from criticism – This one is tough for many, but master this skill and you’ll reap the rewards, both in growing as an individual and a professional. Never stop learning!
- Flexibility / adaptability - The one constant is this: CHANGE. Being able to change course and embrace challenges – and be open to new ideas – is a soft skill that isn’t always easy to master, but will set you apart from your peers.
- Working well under pressure – You’re bound to be in stressful situations – handle it with grace and you’re sure to stand out.
To advance your professional life, spend some time mastering your soft skills.
For more business etiquette tips, check out my etiquette training and teleseminars. Or download a copy of “The Power of Polite: A Guide to Etiquette in Business.“