Soft skills. What are they? Who needs ’em? Let’s have a listen to what the professionals are saying.
Growing up as a suit, I never really understood when people would compliment my people skills. To me, relating to others has always come somewhat naturally, regardless of the target age demographic. It was not until I got to college that I began to understand where the soft skill compliments were coming from. Not everyone is gifted with the soft skill abilities. Our book lists out 5 main soft skills that are helpful when working between geeks and suits. They are:
1. Listening for what’s important to people.
2. Describing a rosy feature.
3. Exposing your desire.
4. Expressing commitment.
5. Translating facts into stories.
Without even realizing it, I suppose I do all of these thing when I’m speaking with people. I didn’t realize it was a process until the steps were laid out in front of me. After reflection, I do agree that these are the steps to expressing soft skills with people and making connections to later influence the people around you. Soft skills and this ability to express yourself to those around you is a talent more noteworthy than most give it credit for.
Mindtools.com breaks down the significance of soft skills and makes me realize even more how useful and imporant these seemingly small and insignificant skills really are. One illustration the site uses is that many careers require skills, dentists, teachers, counselors, restaurant workers, but when choosing among which dentist you trust, you’ll choose the skilled and friendly one. When picking a restaurant, you’ll choose the good food and caring service. When picking an elementary school for your 5 year old child, you’ll choose the academically challenging one with caring, friendly, and relatable teachers. Although soft skills may not seem like something too important, they can make or break any relationship or business transaction. Interaction with other humans is a part of everyday life, therefore we must know how best to communicate and get along with each other.
Although all I do in my blogs is bring up stories from working retail, the interactions continue to apply to the subject matter of this class. Time and time again, I will have customers come back to shop because we have formed a relationship. There are many clothing stores similar to The Limited, such as Express and Loft, however my soft skills and ability to relate with customers while giving them the service of helping them shop brings them back to my store. In many business circumstances, I have found that having the skill and technical knowledge counts for a lot, but being able to work well with others and relate the those around you is almost just as important. What good is it to have a technical skill, but not be able to communicate them effectively or build valuable and deep relationships with clients? In my opinion, we really need to have both technically ability and soft skills as suits and ask geeks.
For those who do not necessarily have soft skills naturally, the five steps lined out in our book are helpful and actually do follow what I subconsciously tend to do. Throughout this book we have learned the differences between suits and geeks as well as how to understand each. Now in this final chapter, we learn how to take that knowledge and put it into practice as we actually work together, get along in the workplace, and communicate most effectively.