The Importance of Developing Soft Skills

See also: Transferable Skills

The modern world is developing rapidly and to remain a high-quality specialist, knowledge, and experience are no longer enough. As a rule, professionals in business try to deepen knowledge by developing their hard skills. For example, a programmer learns new programming languages, while a motor mechanic expands his technical knowledge of new car developments and features. But we grow and achieve results through interaction with other people, and our soft skills help us with that.

Soft skills help us to adapt to change, interact harmoniously with other people and think creatively to successfully solve problems. They make any specialist highly paid and more valuable. Often, soft skills are perceived as the skills of the future, skills which will always be in demand despite economic changes or the next technological leap. In this article, we will look at the real value of soft skills and how you can develop them.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are universal: they are not related to a concrete subject area and do not depend on the specifics of work. All soft skills can be divided into several groups:

Communication skills

In any career, properly built negotiation with others is the key to success. It is the ability to work in a team, argue your position, find contacts, not only to meet human needs but also to perform professional tasks. It includes two important definitions: oratory — the ability to clearly convey your thoughts, and business communication — the ability to conduct correspondence and negotiations with colleagues, clients and managers.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is another important soft skill and includes understanding and regulating emotions. Within emotional intelligence, there are several components: awareness, self-regulation, and empathy.

Awareness, the ability to understand one's own emotions and needs, is a necessity in a career. An analysis of your feelings and emotions helps you to be more present in relationships, and to build them on your values and needs.

There are no good or bad emotions, and we have the right to experience each one. But how we subsequently react and deal with them is our area of responsibility. Therefore, self-regulation helps us to express our emotions in a way that is appropriate for us and the situation. Developing self-regulation helps us develop flexibility, adaptability, and conflict resolution skills.

To build a successful career, we need to understand not only our own emotions but also the emotions of the interlocutor. This helps us react according to the situation and build relationships with people. For this, we need the skill of empathy. Empathy is cognitive, the ability to understand what the other person feels, and emotional, the ability to empathize with the other person.

Self-organization skills

This is the ability to effectively organize your work and competently manage your time.

Creative skills

Not only designers and representatives of other creative professions but also businessmen, and managers need the ability to think outside the box. The modern world is extremely changeable, so each of us increasingly faces non-standard tasks that require an unconventional approach.

Stress tolerance

Major changes are stressful, and when there are a lot of them, the ability to cope with them and stay productive is especially important. Without high-stress tolerance, it is not possible to do your job well and for a long time.

The importance of soft skills

Today, an interest in soft skills and the need for them have become even stronger. Technology advances so rapidly that the knowledge we gain quickly becomes obsolete. Therefore, the most valuable employee is not the one who once learned a lot, but the one who can learn quickly, adapt effectively to new conditions, and find non-standard solutions.

Soft skills are very important, especially if you are an entrepreneur. Despite the marketing skills needed to, for instance, create sales funnels, set up targeted ads, buy real Instagram followers, etc., without soft skills it is impossible to network, build communities and interact effectively with each other, especially in the startup industry, where everything moves fast and you need to make difficult decisions.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, says that soft skills are the key to success. He predicts that very soon automation with the help of artificial intelligence will lead to a reduction in a huge number of specialists in all industries, in particular those that apply hard skills. These are technical skills: knowledge of foreign languages, design, programming, business administration, and so on. Already today 70% of business processes can be automated: for example in social networks online entrepreneurs delegate the task of recruiting the initial activity to professionals and buy Instagram followers, likes, comments, etc.; they do not waste time on personal sales but automate communication with customers using chat bots. With automation, the most valuable thing is what cannot be replaced by robots. Therefore, the value of soft skills lies precisely in the fact that they cannot be automated.

Researchers from Harvard, Stanford, and the Carnegie Foundation have found that soft skills are 85% of a person's success in the profession and help to be effective in all areas of life. We need negotiation skills not only to communicate with clients or partners but also to mark our boundaries in everyday life. The skill of conflict resolution helps to overcome not only problematic situations with management but also to resolve them properly with loved ones. High emotional intelligence allows you to control your emotions during serious conversations with colleagues, as well as when dealing with domestic issues.

Time management and planning skills help to effectively prioritize work tasks and deal effectively with household chores. The ability to effectively set goals contributes to both career advancement and improving the quality of life in general.

Development of soft skills

If some professional skills can be obtained in a day, for example, mastering a simple computer program, then it takes from several weeks to months to obtain and consolidate a soft skill. The reason is that soft skills are directly related to our thinking, lifestyle, and habits, which take time to change.

There are three main ways to develop soft skills.

The first is a personal experience, practice, and learning from our successes and mistakes. In the process of work, we perform actions that are constantly repeated, eventually brought to automatism, and turn into the necessary skills. It is important to constantly analyze your activities, to notice what helps and what, on the contrary, hinders Useful actions need to be reinforced and repeated, while harmful ones need to be discarded.

The second way to develop soft skills is to study thematic literature. This can be a narrowly focused manual specifically on your specialty or motivational literature. This way will be effective only if you are a very self-organized person and can actively apply the acquired knowledge in practice.

The third way to develop soft skills is through training sessions: courses, seminars, training, and coaching, conducted by experienced industry specialists. You can get very concentrated knowledge, which will greatly help you advance in your work and reach a new professional level.

To sum up, soft skills are the most important components of professional success. No matter how good and deep your knowledge is, you cannot become a great professional today without soft skills. They are personal baggage that helps you to solve work tasks easily and productively and constantly move forward.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills eBooks.

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills

Develop your interpersonal skills with our series of eBooks. Learn about and improve your communication skills, tackle conflict resolution, mediate in difficult situations, and develop your emotional intelligence.

About the Author

Charlie Harrison: Content writer in the field of digital marketing: SMM, online sales, digital technology.