7 Soft Skills to Prioritize Learning for Career Success
“Soft skills get little respect, but will make or break your career.” – Peggy Claus
One thing that I’ve realized throughout my professional journey is that the above-mentioned words by Peggy Claus reflect the core of truth. Most of us don’t pay the desired attention to our soft skills. We run in a rat race and feel that being the best in our technical skills is the only gateway to winning. But, alas! That’s where most of us make the biggest mistake of our professional lives. That is why in this article. we will understand 7 Soft Skills to Prioritize Learning for Career Success. To understand how, just answer a few simple questions.
As a recruiter, who would you like to hire: someone who possesses extraordinary technical skills but isn’t pleasant to talk to or someone who possesses average technical skills but is enthusiastic, pleasant to talk to, and has the caliber to learn? As a customer, which store you’d like to visit: The one where the owner greets you with his warm words and makes you feel valued or where the owner just considers you as one among the hundreds of customers he serves? Obviously, in the first case, you’ll prefer to hire the pleasant professional and in the second one, you’ll prefer to visit the store where the owner makes you feel welcomed and treats you nicely.
These examples clearly highlight those soft skills matter a lot. Despite being equipped with the best skills required to excel in your career you might end up in distress if you don’t possess appropriate soft skills. Your soft skills not only determine your hiring but also determine your growth in your career. In a Wall Street Journal survey of nearly 900 executives, 92% said that soft skills were equally important or more important than technical skills. This finding clearly highlights the fact that those who possess good soft skills stand out from the rest.
Further, even when managers consider promotions, those who have an optimistic attitude and helpful nature are the ones who get the best promotions. Whereas, those who remain confined in their own shell and do not have a welcoming attitude, oftentimes, lag behind despite putting in equal or more effort.
During my career journey till now, I have always seen this happening. Those with excellent soft skills lead the troop in everything. They somehow seem to have a magic wand with which they captivate everyone’s hearts and keep marching towards greater heights of success. Through all these experiences, I’ve learned that it is imperative for us to work on our soft skills persistently. It doesn’t matter whether we are freshers or experienced professionals, we need to consistently update our soft skills. Otherwise, we might not accomplish the desired stature in our professional lives. Having said that, we should take steadfast steps to inculcate good soft skills. But, before that, we should know the 7 Soft Skills to Prioritize Learning for Career Success. So, let’s explore them together.
7 Vital soft skills to boost career advancement
In the words of Albert Einstein, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” How beautifully the genius who is known for his scientific discoveries and inventions defined creativity. As creativity is a form of intelligence, obviously, it is one of the major soft skills that are in demand today. Today, the world has completely transformed. We no longer need people-encyclopedias as we can Google any type of information we need within seconds. Rather, the world needs creative people who can generate new ideas, solutions to existing problems in the world and take the world on an entirely new journey.
Most companies have realized that if they want to survive in the long run, they need creative minds who can help come up with innovative ideas. It doesn’t matter whether you have immense knowledge but if you can’t use your knowledge to derive innovative solutions to issues challenging the world and businesses, then, you can’t survive in this highly competitive world. Hence, creativity is a soft skill that is of utmost importance and you should inculcate it. Now, the following are some effective ways to enhance your creativity:
- Read regularly: Reading stimulates creativity and you should read regularly to develop your creativity. Read books of your favorite genres, read blogs, read research papers if you want a job in tech and soon, you’ll see your creative powers soaring high.
- Meditate: “I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.” These words by Albert Einstein point us towards the gateway to creativity. Our creative powers flow in silence. When our mind is full of chaos and noise, we can’t function at the best of our creativity. However, when our mind gets drenched in silence, our creativity flows smoothly. So, silence is home to creativity and meditation is the best way to create inner silence. You can use guided meditation videos to meditate for 10 to 15 minutes daily.
- Observe things: Most of us don’t see actively. We are occupied with our thoughts most of the time. But, if you want your creativity to bloom, you should begin to observe things. See things actively. The more you observe, the more creative your mind becomes. You get inspiration from things all around you and that sprouts the best of your innovation.
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Leadership is not only related to your professional life; it is also related to your personal life. You should be able to lead yourself, your family, and your team in your company. We call it more of a life skill. Today, every organization in the world wants professionals who possess this skill. Why is that so? Because a leader is required to bind a team together and beacon everyone on the path to success. It doesn’t matter whether you play a managerial role or not, still, you need leadership skills as you are the one who will have to guide his or her juniors in the company. The way you lead them largely impacts what they think about the company and how long they will stay.
Moreover, when companies hit challenging situations like the overnight shift to remote working, during the pandemic, influential leaders are required to hold everyone together and sail the company through turbulent times. Hence, you should work on inculcating effective leadership skills. The following are some tips to help you work on your leadership skills:
- Practice active listening:“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” Ernest Hemingway has rightly said these words. The ability to listen is what distinguishes a leader from the rest. Most of us never listen completely. We are busy judging others and framing responses in our minds. But, to become a leader, you have to learn the art of active listening. Whenever someone talks to you, simply listen. Give your complete self to what they say, focus on their voice, what they say, and don’t hurry to frame your responses. If you listen absolutely, the right responses will naturally flow through you.
- Inculcate an influential body language: We not only speak with our months but also our bodies. In fact, visual cues speak more than verbal cues. If you are sad, people can sense it from your body language. It never lies. To influence people, you should have effective body language. Read books on body language, watch videos and read blogs to learn the art of nonverbal communication. As you expand your knowledge of body language, you’ll also be able to comprehend what’s going on inside someone’s mind through their body language, which will help you evolve into an excellent leader.
- Read about and follow inspiring leaders: This is one of the best tactics to become a good leader. Read about and follow inspiring leaders. Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, and Tim Cook are some examples of great leaders in the world.
In the words of Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Business organizations across the globe have realized the truth behind Henry Ford’s words. Consequently, effective collaboration is one of the major business objectives every organization chases today. Under such circumstances, if you don’t exhibit team working skills, you’ll obviously have a challenging time getting your dream job. Questions around collaboration are one of the most common interview questions asked nowadays. Hiring managers and recruiters leave no stone unturned to access your collaboration skills as they can’t afford to hire someone who disturbs the spirit of teamwork in their organization.
Even if you plan to become an entrepreneur, as highlighted in the words of Henry Ford above, you should know how to collaborate effectively. Given that, you should emerge as an excellent team player. The following are some tips to help you polish your team working skills:
- Have a helping attitude: The more you help others, the more you become dear to them. Hence, having a helping attitude is the first ingredient required to improve your team working skills.
- Read ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’: ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ is a book that teaches you how to evolve into a person who is loved by everyone. Additionally, it also shows you how to manage your relationships well. It is a practical book full of actionable tactics. If you read it thoroughly, work along with it and apply the principles it presents in your life, you can’t help but evolve into an outstanding team player.
- Be flexible and understanding of others’ opinions: One of the major issues that people working in a team face is the clash of opinions. If you don’t accommodate others’ opinions, you make them feel worthless. Consequently, conflicts happen. Given that, if you aspire to be a good team player, it is crucial for you to be flexible and understanding of others’ opinions. It will assist you in effectively dealing with workplace conflicts with utmost efficiency.
#4. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is defined as your ability to understand and regulate your emotions. Why have we mentioned it in the list of soft skills that you need to live a successful professional life? This is because our professional lives and personal lives are full of upheavals. Every now and then, we face unique challenges in both segments of our lives. These challenges stir our emotions and if we don’t know how to regulate them, they can not only degrade the quality of our lives but also disrupt our relationships with others. And obviously, employee relationships matter to every employer.
That said, recruiters look for candidates who have high emotional intelligence and the potential to take charge of their emotions. You should develop this soft skill to land your dream job or evolve into an influential entrepreneur. The following are some tips to enhance your emotional intelligence:
- Practice self-awareness: Self-awareness is the key to boost emotional intelligence. It is basically thought awareness that helps you determine what thoughts are governing your emotions, actions, and decisions. If you are aware of your thoughts, you blindly act upon them, rather, you question them and with your discernment see whether those thoughts are rational or not.
- Take a few deep breaths whenever emotions overwhelm you: When we are overwhelmed by emotions, our ability to think rationally and respond to things drops down. Consequently, we are likely to react in ways we will regret later. Hence, it is always best to take a few deep breaths whenever emotions overwhelm you. Deep breathing brings clarity to the mind and helps us regulate our emotions.
- Journaling: Every day, devote some time to journaling. Pen down your thoughts freely, without any worries or hesitation. Write whatever is going on in your mind. This will help you better understand yourself and eventually enhance your emotional intelligence.
#5. Communication skills
How can we miss communication skills when it comes to soft skills! If we are unable to express ourselves properly and communicate effectively, we create room for misunderstanding, troubles, and issues in our relationships. Moreover, when working in a team, if you aren’t able to express your ideas clearly, how can you guide your team in times of need?
Hence, possessing excellence in communication is a must for career advancement. You should know the art of strategic 7Cs of communication, self-expression, and active listening (active listening is as important for effective communication as it is to express yourself). Focus on improving all these skills and the following are some tips to help you in this regard.
- Portray effective body language: Effective communication is a combination of verbal and nonverbal communication. You should portray effective body language that supports your verbal messages to become a good communicator. You can learn body language skills by reading books, blogs and watching YouTube videos on body language.
- Practice self-talk in front of a mirror: This is one of the best tactics to improve your communication skills. You should stand in front of a mirror and engage in some quality self-talk. You can choose any topic of your choice to talk about. As you speak, notice your body language, hand gestures, facial expressions, and your tone of voice. This exercise will help you a lot in the long run.
- Double-check your message before you hit send: This is especially important today as most organizations have switched to remote working. As a result, most conversations happen through text messages. To avoid sending messages that breed misunderstanding or appear rude, even when you didn’t intend them to be so, double-check your messages before you hit send.
Technology is transforming the world at a rapid rate. Almost every sector is being transformed and the world of business is no exception. Every few days a new technology emerges and as professionals, you need to adapt to it to remain competitive. Moreover, to stay ahead of their competitors, business organizations keep upgrading the technology they use, the policies they follow, and so on. Due to these rapid advancements, companies demand professionals who can adapt quickly to changes. That said, adaptability is another soft skill that you should possess. The following are some effective tactics to learn this skill:
- Be open to making mistakes: The fear of making mistakes is one of the biggest reasons why we cling to the old and the known. If you are open to making mistakes and learning from them, you naturally become adaptable.
- Learn to identify opportunities in new situations: Most of us perceive change negatively. This is because it forces us to move outside of our comfort zone. As a result, we see change as a threat, which makes us cling to the old. However, if you develop the habit of identifying opportunities in new situations, change will trigger excitement for you and adaptability will naturally bloom.
- Undertake the journey of self-improvement and try new things: To become friends with change, you should undertake the journey of self-improvement and try new things. Whenever you get the opportunity to learn something new, jump into it and you’ll gradually become more adaptable to things.
In the words of Michael Rutter, “Resilience is our ability to bounce back from life’s challenges and unforeseen difficulties, providing mental protection from emotional and mental disorders.” We all face tremendous challenges in our professional lives. Work stress, challenges in the business world, and organizational challenges keep bombarding us. To survive through all the thick and thin we need resilience. Otherwise, we might fall apart at the slightest signs of trouble.
Given that, companies are searching for resilient individuals. They don’t want their employees to run away during turbulent times. Further, if you aspire to become an entrepreneur, you are expected to be even more resilient. You’ll be the leader of your own company and if you dwindle in times of distress, how will the other members of your company stay intact? So, you should be resilient. Now, let’s explore 3 effective tactics to help you boost your resilience:
- Figure out what helps you relax: Resilience as defined earlier is your ability to bounce back from life’s challenges. In a way, it is your ability to regain a relaxing state of mind after being exposed to stressful situations. If you know how to relax and return to a state of inner equilibrium, you are naturally resilient. Hence, to boost your resilience, you should figure out what helps you relax. Try different things and see what works the best for you.
- Practice self-awareness: Most of the time, our thoughts make situations worse than they actually are. We overestimate many situations which keep us in a cycle of stress and anxiety. To boost our resilience, we need to live in states of relaxation. So, we should practice self-awareness and detect thoughts that throw us into misery unnecessarily. In this awareness, we can consciously choose one thought over the other and promote our resilience. Effective implementation of self-awareness will assist in contributing to your self improvement.
- Read ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’: ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’ is an extraordinary book by Dale Carnegie that beacons us on the path of overcoming worries and living fully. To be true, as you learn the art of overcoming worries, you naturally become more resilient. So, read this book thoroughly, work with it and you’ll see yourself transforming into an enormously resilient being.
Summing up: Soft Skills To Prioritize Learning for Career Success
Today, you can succeed in your career only if you possess excellence in both technical as well as soft skills. Companies value soft skills as much as they value technical skills and, in most cases, they value soft skills a little more than technical skills. Given that, you should possess impeccable soft skills that can help you establish yourself in your professional life. The above-mentioned are some soft skills to prioritize learning for career success. Work on them one by one and slowly, you’ll transform into a professional who can captivate anyone’s heart. Now, wish you All the Best and immense success in your life.
Author Bio: Jessica Robinson
Jessica Robinson loves to write interesting and knowledgeable blogs regarding business management, education and life to satiate the curiosity of her lovely readers. Currently, she is serving as a content manager at the ‘Speaking Polymath’. Every piece of content that she writes demonstrates her immense love and passion for her profession.
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