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A Guide to Developing Essential Soft Skills

  • By Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP
  • September 30, 2021
  • 49 Views

Team Management SkillsSoft skills are general abilities that employers typically look for when hiring for almost any position. They’re intangible and include non-technical skills like communication skills, teamwork, leadership, and time management skills. Also commonly known as interpersonal skills, these abilities are desirable in candidates from every industry from tech to HR.

Essential soft skills aren’t rooted or related to a single field of work; they can be leveraged in a variety of workplaces, especially those that work in teams. They often contribute to workplace culture, something that’s become increasingly important for employers to foster over the past few years. Essential to making teams of professionals work to execute projects and complete deliverables, the development of soft skills is bound to help your career—perhaps in ways you may not have realized.

The Importance of Soft Skills

While you may not be able to earn a degree in soft skills, their value shouldn’t be overlooked. The ability to get along with colleagues and maintain a rapport with those you work closely with through communication, team building skills, and conflict management is often just as important as the technical skills you bring to the table. In addition, they can help you immensely through the interview process.

Many human resources members assess prospective employees on their soft skills with the knowledge that they’ll need certain ones to integrate into the team. It’s imperative to practice soft skills like you would technical skills; they get better the more you use them. Having developed soft skills under your belt will help set you aside from the competition; recruitment criteria is rarely ever based on technical skill alone, so having great interpersonal abilities will help you in the long run, and especially in highly competitive markets.

How to Improve Your Soft Skills?

Whether you’re on the job market looking for your first position or re-entering the market as you look for a career change, it’s a good idea to brush up on some essential soft skills. Fortunately, there are a number of options available to you, depending on your personal preference.

Here are a few ways you develop your soft skills:

Online Classes

Online classes are a convenient way to work on your interpersonal skills. Many programs offer a lecture component wherein you’d learn about the set of skills at hand, as well as a practical component where you’d be able to ask questions and practice with others.

Online classes can be challenging for some depending on their learning style, but they offer a fantastic opportunity for those looking for a quick and convenient way to level up their soft skills.

Ask for Feedback

A surprisingly easy way to improve your interpersonal skills is to simply ask for feedback. This doesn’t have to be limited to professional colleagues; you can ask your friends and family members what they think about your communication and even time management skills. While you may not always agree, it’s important to get answers from a couple different perspectives to truly assess what you can work on.

You can also ask peers at work, as well as your manager. You may be surprised at what you hear, as our perception of ourselves can often vary from what we think about ourselves. This is what makes asking different people so helpful—collecting feedback and information from different people in your life can help you get a fulsome picture of which soft skills need improvement.

Get a Coach

Getting a coach will offer tailored, one-on-one advice. Partnering with a coach at the right time in your career can have an immense impact on your career and its future growth. Before you decide to get a coach to help develop your interpersonal skills, you should have a grasp on the career path you’d like to pursue. This option requires some initial investment—of both money and time, so you’ll want to be sure it’s worth your while.

When looking for a coach, listen carefully to word-of-mouth references and do your research; an investment in a coach to help with your soft skills is an investment in your future. You’ll want to make sure you’re choosing the right one for you, and one that can help you realize your potential.

Practice with Friends/Group

Maybe you already have an idea of the interpersonal skills you’d like to practice. If that’s the case, you can ask a friend to sit down and help talk you through it.

Say you want to work on your negotiation skills. Your friend can pretend to be your boss while you ask for a promotion or salary increase. Another scenario you could practice includes being a team lead and having to negotiate with other team members on roles and responsibilities. At the end of each scenario, ask your friend for feedback on your negotiation, and how they think you can improve.

While having conversations with yourself in the mirror is great for practicing speeches, it just won’t cut it for practicing your soft skills. It’s imperative to have another person there to share their feedback on how you can improve; without outside perspectives, you may never be able to pinpoint exactly how you can improve.

TSSG Can Help with Online Soft Skills Training

If you’re looking to improve soft skills that will help you in your job search and career moving forward, The Soft Skills Group can help. Whether you’re looking to develop your leadership skills or want to work on team development, we have a workshop for you. Contact us today to learn more about online management skills in Canada and the USA.

Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP

Diana is President of The Soft Skills Group Inc., and a senior training & development professional with over 20 years of experience in delivery, design & consulting with Fortune 500 companies, Universities & Colleges in Canada, USA, Europe, and Asia. Read More