Soft Skills: What They Are and How They Can Help Your Job

"Soft skills" is a broad term used to describe social and relationship skills. The term has evolved to be similar to "personal software" as a general reference. They are also major elements in the classic managerial skill set. Your "soft skills" are a measure of your progression, and in some cases they can be a measure of your need for development. Soft skills are:

  • Team participation
  • Leadership
  • Communications
  • Negotiation skills
  • Mediation skills
  • Training skills
  • Personality characteristics which enhance relationships
  • Social interaction and etiquette skills
  • Problem solving
  • Conflict resolution
  • Decision making

Assessing your soft skills

This isn't an academic exercise. Any areas where you're deficient in soft skills refer to weak spots in your job skills. They're areas you must address, to achieve career advancement. One of the reasons for the very high emphasis on these skills is because they work as good social mechanisms in the workplace. They have a lot to do with achieving better relationships and synergies in teams. Employers naturally place a high value on staff who can operate well in a group, whose soft skills are clearly indicated by their work experience and performance. These workers are facilitators, fixers, and problem solvers. They can communicate well across a broad base of interactions with clients and other staff. They reduce conflict, and promote teamwork. Have another look at that list:

  • What are your strong points?
  • Which areas need development?
  • Which have you had no opportunity to develop?
  • Have you had difficulties in any of these areas?

Upgrading your soft skills

Everyone has a weakness. Not everybody is a born leader, mediator or negotiator. Some people are brilliant, but not so good as communicators, particularly with an audience. Whatever your situation, you'll need to do some work on the gaps.

The best remedy is actual training. The training can be a lot of fun, and it's particularly useful for dealing with problem zones in a positive setting, where no damage is done in the process. Trainers emphasize a structured approach, starting from scratch, where you can learn the principles and do some practical exercises in using the skills. Negotiation, mediation, and conflict resolution are good starting points. They highlight a lot of the skills in problem solving, communication, and leadership. They also create very strong situational awareness situations, adding considerable depth to the social aspects of soft skills.

The more time and effort you put in to these types of training, the more you'll get in return. This is very effective training, done with useful situational examples which allow trainees to get actual practical expertise. You'll find that none of your time is wasted, and you obtain very useful practical skills.