Soft Skills Simplified
What are Soft Skills
Soft Skills are the intangible, non-technical, general disposition, aptitudes, and behaviors unique to you. Some skills are easily learned, such as being likable and easy to get along with. Some skills you are naturally gifted with, like having a relaxing demeanor while other skills may take time to develop through practice.
Each person is unique with their blend of soft skills. Soft skills are what sets you apart from everyone else. Employers already know you are technically qualified by the education you completed and where you have worked; both outlined in your resume. But what about your chemistry? Your soft skills chemistry blend is what really determines if you are right for the job. Can you mesh and blend into an organization and culture? Your skills blend is what determines this and fully defines you as a person; who you really are.
You already use several of your soft skills daily, without even thinking about them.
Soft Skills vs Hard Skills
Hard Skills are tangibles such as the acquired knowledge you learned through academic training like courses, programs, university, and college curriculum resulting in a recognized degree or a profession. This is knowledge and skills that you learn through formal training over a finite period in a recognized program.
Soft skills, on the other hand, can take years to perfect and master through regular daily practice as you go about your day at home, work, or play.
You may be a whiz and master at project management. Project management hard skills knowledge is great. But if you are very difficult to work with, rigid, and set in your ways, you will have a very hard time finding and keeping a project management job or team. That is where your soft skills come in.
Hard skill tangibles are the knowledge and ability you have learned through formal training. Your soft skills are the medium through which you deliver those hard skills - delivery to your team, your company, and your client. To have knowledge is one thing. But being able to deliver those hard skills is another. That is where your skills blend comes in.
Your soft skills are the differentiator that makes you unique and sets you apart from someone else; your competition for the same job posting for example. It is the glue that unites and wraps your hard and soft skills together.
Soft skills, once learned, honed, and acquired, should be maintained and practiced constantly on a regular basis so you remain fit, sharp, and continue to grow as a person. That's where belonging to a speaking and leadership organization like Toastmasters comes in.
Top 10 Skills
Despite 10 in the title, there are actually more, depending on the level of granularity you want to scope into them. But don't fear. Many of the noted skills are overlapping and transferrable to other skills. So when you are learning one, you have partially learned another. That's what makes learning and honing your soft skills lifelong fun.
I keep referring to soft skills blend, because, as you can see below, there are much more than 10. Given any person, you may find they excel at perhaps only 3 or 5 soft skills. Many times we hear of people who may be great at speaking and connecting with people, but are very hard to work with, once they are trying to lead in a small group. That top set of soft skills may be what they have naturally gravitated to, without even thinking about them. And when they apply for a specific job that requires them to lead and inspire, well, they falter and may lose out on the job position.
I like to think that every job position may have a unique blend of mandatory soft skills, then perhaps several secondary soft skills that are not as important. The more senior and advanced positions, therefore, will require more soft skills as mandatory that you are exemplary at, such as leading to inspire, ability to speak and present to various size of groups, being able to listen to feedback, and making swift decisions.
For different career positions and tasks, there is always a unique blend of skills that are paramount and required for success in that position. That's why you should hone and tweak as many of your skills as possible. It makes you most invaluable, capable, adaptable, and fully prepared to take on any task you may be confronted with, in your daily life.
Soft Skills are;
- Speaking skills
- Able to speak your ideas clearly and succinctly
- Writing skills
- Can you write coherently
- Presentation skills
- Are you comfortable speaking in front of others
- Speaking skills
- Can you work under a leader or become a leader of a team
- Able to work with others in your immediate team
- Can you blend in and mesh with an existing team
- Problem Solving
- Ability to manage yourself with given a problem to explore or solve
- Think and apply required solutions in a new approach
- Work Ethic
- Carry out your responsibilities with generally accepted work ethics
- Interpersonal Skills
- Can you carry yourself in a professional manner within groups or one-to-one
- Time Management
- Can you budget, manage and use your time productively
- Attention to Detail
- Able to recognize when detail is needed and carry through
- Conflict Resolution
- When a disagreement occurs can you take steps to resolve it in a win-win result
- Negotiating Skills
- Able to negotiate to a successful win-win end
- Have a sense, feel, or ability to recognize what may be transpiring
- Self Motivation
- Can you motivate and maintain yourself to a task completion
- Self Starter
- Are you able to work with minimal or no supervision to complete a required task
- Able to take full responsibility and accountability on either a good or bad outcome
- Able to make, justify and stand behind your decision
- Work under pressure
- Ability to meet timelines and deadlines by good time management and process
- Able to bend when needed for the overall benefit of your team or project
Skill Mastery and TDKtalks
This is where I come in. From my extensive career of working as an engineering technologist for 30+ years in 18 positions with 10+ companies, I draw on my experiences to write articles related to soft skills application and experiences for you to learn from. Some experiences were very good while some not so good. But I write about both sides to help you develop your soft skills and how to develop yours.
Many times there is no substitute for hands-on learning in the real world, as you deliver value to your employer; delivering a product, service, or message to a client. Every situation is unique.
I hope you enjoy and get value from my articles. If you have any questions, please contact me and I will coach you along.