Understanding and Developing Your Soft Skills

Results from a recent Adecco survey show that 92% of business leaders think American workers aren’t as skilled as they should be. When asked about the national proficiency gap, executives cited weaknesses in areas including:

  • Creativity

  • Communication

  • Critical thinking

  • Problem-solving

These are all soft skills. Naturally, they’re the opposite of hard skills, which refer to technical abilities such as data entry and speaking foreign languages. Soft skills are individual traits geared primarily towards enabling effective collaboration. You might inherently possess some attributes, while others need to be cultivated through practice and experience.  

Either way, they play a crucial role in your career and overall success. Without ample interpersonal skills, for example, you probably wouldn’t make it through any job interviews. It’s good to know then, that soft skills can be strengthened. Their full potential is available to anyone with the drive and motivation. Read on to learn more. 

Define the Why

As the term suggests, soft skills aren’t particularly tangible. It can be challenging to grasp, measure, and mold them into different forms. Staying on track takes dedication, so it helps to know why soft skills are important in the first place. Here are 5 reasons to remember:

  • The modern workplace rewards outstanding communication and teamwork

  • Soft skills rely on emotional intelligence that can’t be replaced by automation

  • Recruiters favor applicants with extensive soft skill sets

  • Strong leadership skills pave the way for career advancement

  • Mastering more competencies has practical benefits outside of work

Know Thyself

You’ll need to practice some introspection to determine where you stand with each soft skill. Look within and do so with sincere honesty. Strengths and opportunities should be given equal amounts of attention. Only then will you be able to make full use of what propels you and eliminate anything holding you back. 

Don’t hesitate to ask friends, colleagues, and managers for input. This can lead to valuable insights that may otherwise remain unseen. Here are some fundamental soft skills to add to those we already mentioned:

  • Adaptability

  • Conscientiousness

  • Delegation

  • Innovation

  • Listening

  • Resistance to pressure

It makes sense to start with the skills that are most relevant to your industry or field. This will narrow down the list so that you cover what matters first. 

Study Smart

You might be wondering how you’ll establish the credibility of your soft skills in the future. 

The most reliable solution is to take an appropriate course. Not only will it back up your soft skills, but it can also refine them further in addition to showing that you’ve taken initiative. Glance through the Pathway Bachelor Degree Completion overview for a sample of what you can expect. 

These types of programs focus on core competencies such as leadership, innovation, and critical thinking. Plus, you can use them to brush up on your financial and legal know-how in addition to other practical areas.

From here, it’s mostly a matter of staying on track and consistently improving. Success comes with leaving your comfort zone and adapting to changes. Master these soft skills and the rest will follow suit.