In our work environment, sometimes, we wonder why things are not going the way they are expected to despite best efforts from us. There are times, when we are misunderstood to an extent that our sheer intent is being questioned. People start labeling and judging us. And then there are occasions when we get into conflict easily on very minuscule matters. We feel that despite such a high level of technical competence, right qualification and high expertise why are we not able to achieve the desired success that we so very much deserve. Does this sound familiar?
If you can relate with the above statements and find this happening very often in your life, then my request for you is to pause and reflect on the possible reasons.
One of the most common reason for all the above mentioned problems is lack of awareness and exposure to soft skills. In most cases people who experience the above mentioned challenges are yet to realize the power of soft skills.
So what are soft skills? Soft skills are one of the most misused words in our vocabulary. People use it interchangeably.
When a person is an individual contributor and works in insolation without too much of dependence on others, he or she has to rely heavily on so called hard skills. Unlike soft skills, hard skills are more tangible and easy to quantify. Some examples of hard skills include job skills like mechanics, number crunching, math, reading, software development, sculpting, painting etc. One doesn’t need to depend much on soft skills if one’s job is to work in isolation. However if one has to work in teams or have to interact with vendors, clients and other stakeholders , soft skills plays a major role in their success.
Joint research conducted by Harvard University, Carnegie foundation and Stanford Research had a very astonishing finding. It revealed that 85 % of job success in one’s career comes from having well developed soft skills and only 15 % of job success comes from technical skills or hard skills. And this only grows as the person grows up to senior roles in one’s professional career.
Soft skills are also called as people skills. These are character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relationships with other people. For example, communication skills, listening skills, ability to understand others, empathizing etc.
These skills can be easily nurtured and honed over a period of time. Here are some easy steps to sharpen your soft skills.
- Awareness: The first step and also one of the most significant step is becoming aware about one’s soft skills. In most cases people are not aware of the fact that they are not proficient in their soft skills. They rely heavily on their knowledge and expertise in hard skill and always consider that as the only pillar for their success. In most cases it’s a blind spot hence becoming aware of this is the first and foremost step.
- Seek feedback: Seek feedback from people whom you trust and who work with you in your office environment. Ask them to share their experience of working with you. One of the common ways to develop a culture of open and honest feedback in an organization, is to have a practice of asking two questions to your colleagues on a monthly basis, first, what do they like about you and secondly, what would they like to like about you (or to put in a straightforward manner, seek feedback on your areas of improvement).
- Say Thank you: if someone gives an honest feedback, never give explanation in your defense. This will discourage others to give feedback in future as this is potentially a very sensitive topic. Just a simple thank you will work wonders.
- Role modelling: You can also observe and role model the mannerism of some people around you who are very influencial and positive. This is one of the best ways to learn and adapt new skills.
- Training: Take some time out and schedule yourself to attend some soft skills training periodically. Most of the successful people are always taking substantial measures to constantly learn and grow. Trainings provide that platform to learn from an expert and also from fellow learners.
- Practice: Take up two to three things every month that you learn from various sources and make it a point to practice them constantly.
To conclude, I would like to quote a famous leadership coach and motivational speaker, Anthony Robbins, “If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten”.
So, take the plunge and reach the pinnacle in your profession by taking your soft skills to the next level. Wish you all the Best