Soft skills are a set of knowledge and talents that are practical in almost every job. Examples include emotional intelligence, time management, problem-solving and effective communication. Sometimes these are described as “interpersonal skills”.
These are different from hard skills. Also referred to as technical skills, these are more quantifiable and are typically easier to learn than soft skills. Examples of hard skills include driving a forklift, using Excel, or operating machinery.
But why are soft skills so important? Let’s look at some reasons why:
- They make us better at just about everything. They keep us adaptable so we can use those skills no matter what the situation is. When you start a new project or are learning to use a new tool, soft skills such as creative thinking and adaptability are important to those new situations.
- They will improve your hard skills. Problem-solving skills are key when faced with unfamiliar situations, learning new approaches, or developing conflict resolutions.
- They help you achieve career success at every stage. It’s typically easier to teach a process than behavior or attitude – employers may overlook a gap in your hard skills if your soft skills are a good fit. Your soft skills will play an even more important role when pursuing promotions or positions with higher-level of responsibility.
- Soft skills are transferable. They give you the flexibility to transition to other jobs or switch careers without starting from scratch.
Some may believe that soft skills can’t be developed. However, that is far from the truth. While some people naturally have better soft skills than others, it is possible to build your soft skills through hard work, self-awareness, and a sincere desire to improve those skills.
Marcus Paint uses the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment™ tool as the first step for individuals to gain awareness of their strengths and shortcomings. Once armed with this knowledge, an action plan can be developed to focus on the areas that are most critical to the individuals’ job and career plans.
Individuals can identify several ways to address their most critical areas; it may require different approaches to accomplish their goals. Using the S.MA.R.T. goals method will help you: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
For example, take a public speaking course or attend networking events to develop your interpersonal and social skills. Or enroll in a project management course to work on your organizational skills.
Tackling soft skills is no easy task – it takes time and effort, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results.