Why Are Soft Skills Important? Suman December 18, 2014

Why Are Soft Skills Important?

Thank you for visiting my blog! And congratulations on taking the first step towards improving you communication and soft skills. You will find practical advice that you can really use to improve your skills. Let’s start right at the beginning. What exactly are soft skills?

Let’s look at a scenario. You take a taxi from the airport. The taxi driver minds his own business and takes you to your destination. He collects his money in the end and is on his way. Another scenario. You take a taxi from the airport. The driver smiles and greets you, offers to put your luggage in the boot. He may or may not strike a conversation on the way. But when you pay him at the end of the trip, he smiles again and thanks you. Which taxi driver would you prefer to travel with? Obviously, the second one.

The second driver had the skills of courtesy in his profession while serving a customer.

Have you noticed that some parents succeed in getting their children to listen to them in one go? While some others make feeble attempts to control their progeny and fail?

When we talk about soft skills, the general perception is a set of corporate traits which you need on the job. But soft skills are simply the way you personalise your behaviour in a given situation. People with these skills are more efficient and successful in their life while an absence of these skills can make people tactless and clumsy. Some people just have everyone listening to them? It’s something in the way they talk. Or perhaps their eye contact and body language. 

It is hard to define the wide array of skills that go into this category. Let me try my best to simplify them for you by culling out the main ones.

1. Communication skills: Yes, even communication is a soft skill. From the way you express yourself to the body talk that you have. Whether you scold a co-worker for coming late or initiate a sensitive discussion to understand his problem depends on your communication skills. Being able to speak and write well to communicate your message is an invaluable skill.

2. Personal skills: Soft skills that a person should have in himself or herself. Listening, problem solving, decision making, time management, stress management, motivational and energy levels, patience, perseverance, body language are some of the important skills in an individual. 

3. Interpersonal skills: These are soft skills that you use to deal with others. Being a team player, interpersonal communication, presentation skills, assertiveness, handling difficult situations are a few skills in this category.

Like I mentioned earlier, it is impossible to limit soft skills into a definition of few words. This is just the beginning where I have tried to chalk out the boundaries. We will deal with each aspect, even the ones not mentioned here and talk about its effective use in work situations and outside. 


Soft skills are important for survival in your career

While we are covering the basics of soft skills, here’s a quick recap of how important soft skills can be for the very survival of your career.

1. For a job: This is the most important phase of life when everyone needs soft skills. Since soft skills are just about becoming a part of academic circles, it can be quite daunting to go through the whole interview process where one is expected to match corporate norms. Common skills required are communication, confidence, grooming, right body language, a well-written resume accompanied by an impressive cover letter. 

2. On the job: Educational qualification and knowledge about your job are irreplaceable in getting you in. Nonetheless, how you get work done on the job is all about soft skills. Even as a seasoned professional, you will need soft skills to deal with adamant employees or handle sensitive issues. Communication, managing teams, handling confrontational situations, assertiveness, presentation skills, writing emails, reports, memos etc are just a few skills that can get you success on your job.

3. Outside your job: If you thought, soft skills were needed only in the job market think again. Have you ever warned your maid that if she doesn’t begin coming on time, you may have to fire her? Did you cajole your spouse to plan that much awaited holiday to your favourite destination? Don’t you have to sometimes get strict with your 5 yr old to get her to finish the glass of milk? All these situations involve soft skills to handle. The better you are at them, the more successful you are likely to be. 

In short, soft skills can help you succeed in both your personal and professional life. And hence worth your time to learn and practice them.

Suggested activity for today is: Notice how people greet others when they first meet. How you greet people is an important soft skill. Watch their facial expressions, body language and handshake, if they do shake hands. You will be able to see the difference between genuine smile and a forced one!