Hard skills such as writing clearly and concisely, solving math and technical problems quickly, and the ability to run computer programs or even write computer program code, can all be taught either by traditional education and/or training. Some of us might learn quickly while for others, the learning curve is a little steeper. But in the end, we all develop a certain aptitude for each of these skills if we're willing to put in the time and effort required.
On the other hand, soft skills are not so easy to teach or learn. That's because in many cases, we're either born with them or not. Still, these are personality traits we nonetheless spend much of our lives developing, much like an artist who might be born with a certain aptitude for drawing, but takes years to cultivate the skill. These workplace skills fall into the categories of things like critical thinking, problem solving aptitude, creativity, teamwork abilities, and even integrity. They are your workplace habits, and although they are referred to as soft skills, they are as important, if not more important, than your hard skills.
While a good writer might be a highly valued commodity at a marketing firm or a highly respected corporate assessment company like Kilmann Diagnostics (learn more here: https://kilmanndiagnostics.com/), an employee who can provide superior team leadership and communication skills might be just as highly valued.
Here are some examples of how a big or small company might develop better soft skills for improving communication in the workplace:
The Soft Skill Art of Negotiation
According to freelance business writer, Elaine Thompson, an aggressive approach isn't always the best way to succeed at effective negotiations in the workplace. The keys to sifting through the myriad complexities and potential pitfalls of critical exchanges is all about delivering your arguments with confidence, providing accurate and verifiable data, all while listening intently and respectfully to the opposing parties thoughts and concerns.
But how do you actually master the art of negotiation? Go back to the basics. Practice your arguments ahead of time at home in the mirror. Speak out loud while paying attention to body language and facial expressions. Invite family and friends to listen to your arguments. Don't just accept praise from them, but ask them to be as critical as possible so you can iron out the wrinkles and be the best communicator you can be.
The Soft Skill Art of Interpersonal Relationships
Interpersonal relationship skills, like the ability to empathize with others inside and outside the job, are considered key in developing increased communication in the workplace. Says Thompson, women in general are more skilled at this. They possess a better aptitude than men for patiently listening to their coworkers in the case of conflict and disagreement. She also suggests that if, as an employee, you are lacking in interpersonal relationship skills, you should consciously make an effort to work on them. Not the easiest of challenges for highly strung, impatient people.
The art of interpersonal relationship skills is key for co-worker, one-on-one interactions. They also come in handy for phone calls, conference calls, and Zoom meetings. Many influencer marketers like those active on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook choose to develop interpersonal relationships with their audience of quality followers who are loyal not only to their sites, but the products and brands they promote.
Like the art of negotiation, learning interpersonal skills takes practice. Again, invite family and friends to openly critique your ability to empathize and listen to their problems, concerns, and wants.
The Soft Skill Art of Collaboration
Let's face it, if you can't along with people you're not going to last very long in any workplace, including a maximum security prison. The ability to collaborate (they called this "playing nice" when you were in kindergarten) is one of the top skills employers look for when seeking out qualified candidates for an open position. This is said to be especially true today with many workplaces having torn down walls and abandoned confining work stations in order to inspire people to collaborate more and to reduce worker isolation. It also encourages the spontaneous collaboration of ideas and helps significantly when a sudden crisis arises and employees must come together to work on a quick and efficient solution.
Soft skill development is an art in itself. It takes talent and practice. But anyone willing to put the time in can become highly skilled at negotiations, interpersonal relationships, and the all important art of collaboration. Working well with fellow workplace employees of differing backgrounds, cultures, and personalities, on a common goal is key to survival in today's diverse workforce, even when more and more work is being conducted remotely.