Soft skills, what are they? Are they skills in which someone is nice? Are they skills where one allows others to push them around? Are soft skills the way in which to approach a situation when things are tense? Let us take a look at what “Soft skills” are and why they are important.
So first, what are they:
Accoriding to investopedia.com soft skills are defined as, “The character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relationships with other people…Soft skills have more to do with who we are than what we know. As such, soft skills encompass the character traits that decide how well one interacts with others, and are usually a definite part of one’s personality.” Does that make sense? Okay, so what are some examples of these skills that make who we are and which characterize a person’s relationships with other people? Well, according to monster.com, who says that everyone should have these to advance their career, six of them are:
- Teamwork and Collaboration
- Problem Solving
- Critical Observation
- Conflict Resolution
Even more so, you can find an alphabetized list at jobsearch.com.
Further, why are they important:
They are important because they help in advancing one’s career, just as monster.com says above. In a Forbes article, “6 Soft Skills That Guarantee Your Success,” Alex McClafferty illustrates this by giving a list of six soft skills that he believes will guarantee one’s success. These are:
- Public Speaking
- Relationship Building
- Time Management
In doing so, he gives a background as to what each of these skills are and gives resources to which to learn more about each skill. McClafferty then concludes with this statement, “The beauty of soft skills is they compound and cross-over with one another. To demonstrate: you negotiate your way into a conference for free and speak about leadership best practice. Post-presentation, you ask the audience excellent questions; using your finely honed empathy which helps you build relationships and your business.” What a good example within only two sentences.
Finally, as the title alludes, how can these soft skills be used as a means to influence others:
Well, if you look at the text, The Geek Leader’s Handbook, you see that the authors, Paul Glen and Maria McManus, both talk about what they think are the five soft skills in which to influence others. These are:
- Listen for what is important to people
- Describe a rosy future
- Expose your desire
- Express commitment
- Translate facts into stories
These are important because they create an experience for the people within your network. You want the experience they have to be one in which you show them that you are being open with them, transparent, and trustworthy. When this is done, they are more likely to, than not going to, trust that you have their best interests in mind. Therefore, your judgment and say will be one in which they will willingly follow. In so doing, your influential weight will increase as their trust increases.
Let me leave you with a video where Peter Svenneby from Syntuity where he kinda sums all of this up by reiterating what soft skills are and how they differ from what are called “hard skills.” One key thing to look for and take away from Svenneby is how, “Our soft skills inherently increase or diminish the value of the hard skills that we bring to the table.” Soft skills can be developed and can mature. This should be a lifelong journey, so never stop growing and improving. As you grow your your influence will grow.