Soft skills are essential to being a professional business person. The problem is, geeks do not really have soft skills, or if they do, the soft skills are underdeveloped. Our textbook gives us five soft skills that geeks need in order to influence business people. Last chapter talked about the lack of influence geeks have in a business setting, so the five soft skills could be a life saver for us geeks. The five skills are:
- Listen for what is important to people
- Describe a rosy future
- Expose your desire
- Express commitment
- Translate facts into stories
I dislike that these soft skills are nearly a full sentence a piece, but as you can see, they are all about communicating. This is because a lot of soft skills are about communicating to begin with. This list of 87 skills using a lot of different words, but if you look at them closely, a good chunk of them are some sort of a communication skill. This is because soft skills are manners and a means of holding yourself in public. The book says that, “soft skills are basically social skills, sometimes known as people skills or interpersonal skills.” Not all soft skills are necessary for everyone though. There also is no set in stone list of skills, but here is a video that claims to have the hard facts behind soft skills. Soft skills are different for everyone. What some people consider a soft skill, others may consider a more technical, or hard skill. We experienced this on the bus Monday on the trip to Asynchrony. During the group’s presentation, Matthew and I had a disagreement about a few different skills. Some people just think differently, which means that they think about hard and soft skills differently.
Since we already talked about influence last week, and I am not a fan of the way the book words the skills this week, I have found my own list of important skills. Forbes has a list of six soft skills that guarantee success. The six skills are empathy, negotiation, public speaking, relationship building, leadership, and time management.
Empathy: Empathy is commonly confused with sympathy. Sympathy is is feeling compassion for someone, but empathy is you ability to actually feel what a person is feeling. It is putting yourself into someone else’s shoes in order to feel the way they feel. To develop this skill, listen more and talk less.
Negotiation: Negotiation is a soft skill, but it may feel more like a hard skill to some people. Negotiation is hard, and can be really intimidating if you are not comfortable with it. The problem with negotiation is that you need to be able to face rejection. You will not always be able to get your way, and you need to have your emotions ready for that.
Public Speaking: Public Speaking is another skill that takes a lot of time to get good at. Similar to negotiation, it can be really intimidating if you are not prepared for it. In previous blogs, I have talked about my experiences with public speaking in classes and my own struggles with it.
Relationship Building: The best trick for building relationships is to just be helpful. Just let nature do the rest. The more helpful you are, the more people are going to like you, and the more relationships you will have.
Leadership: Leadership may be the most difficult skill on this list. The problem with leadership is that it is a skill made up of even more skills. We could do an entire blog just on the skills needed to be a leader.
Time Management: The ability to keep your time organized is essential to being a successful business person. Learn to use a calendar. One of the best things you can do is to learn how to get your calendar and email synced. If you are a suit, ask a geek for some help. It will save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Soft skills are important in order to be successful in business. They are not exactly the easiest to learn, but with some practice, all soft skills are possibly to get better at. Try to find out what skills will benefit you the most, and start learning as soon as you can.