Soft Skills: why they are so important?

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You have just finished studying or are almost finished – so what now?

You might be thinking about doing an internship or may have already started one to help improve your industry knowledge and technical skills, which are also known as your hard skills, it is also important not to forget about your soft skills. But what are soft skills? They are your interpersonal skills that are crucial for career success and progression. Whilst your hard skills may be industry specific, your soft skills are much broader and work across all industries. Your soft skills include (but are not limited to), how well you work in a team, your critical thinking skills, having effective time management, being able to take initiative, and many more. For some people these skills may come naturally, however for many it is something that they have to continuously work on. Below is a list of some of the most valuable soft skills to have.

Communication:

Being an effective communicator is crucial across all industries, fields and positions. This can cover how you communicate with clients, partners and even internally in the business with colleagues. To be an effective communicator you have to first be a good listener. The best way to do this is through active listening, which is the process of first showing that you are paying attention and allowing the other person to finish what they are saying, and then reflecting by rephrasing it to make sure that you fully understand what they are communicating with you.

Another important part of being an effective communicator is also being aware of the nonverbal cues in both the other person and yourself. What is considered polite can change from culture to culture, however in Australia it is considered polite to have eye contact with the person you are speaking with, as this shows your full attention is on them. It also important to have an approachable demeanour and friendly tone to avoid making the other person uncomfortable. By being aware of the other people’s nonverbal cues it can often show how they are feeling, for example if they are fidgeting it can show that they are nervous or uncomfortable.

Attitude:

Your attitude can make a huge difference in your workplace performance. A part of this includes being self-motivated and self-directed. This shows that you can be dependable as well as show initiative when it comes to certain tasks and decisions. Being cooperative with other people as well as being friendly and approachable also shows that you have a good attitude. 
Another aspect of this is how well you accept feedback, whether it is good or bad. One of the best ways to improve your skills is being able to use the feedback given to you to improve yourself in a positive way.

Emotional Intelligence:

Whilst your IQ measures your intelligence, your EQ measure your emotional intelligence. This covers areas such as being self-aware of your own emotions and abilities and using it to your advantage, as well as understanding how other people would be thinking and feeling. This can show how well you can manage stress, make important decisions, deal with difficult people and how adaptable you can be.

When trying to improve your soft skills it is important to stay open minded to both your own and other people’s feelings and abilities. Exposing yourself to new and different situations and asking other people for feedback can give you the tools you need for success.

Published on by Daniele L.