With this article, we’re starting a short conversation about “soft skills.” It will last for several articles. If you would like to follow the full conversation, click on the “FOLLOW” button on the right-hand side of this page.
GETTING STARTED …
Let’s start with the obvious question. What are soft skills? What do you mean when you say “soft skills?” If you would like to follow the conversation, click on the FOLLOW button just to the right of this article.
Soft skills are personal attributes. They enable us to relate more effectively to other people. They also contribute to increased job performance and greater job satisfaction.
But soft skills are actually more than personality traits (such as optimism). They also include special abilities which can be learned and practiced. We’re talking about things like empathy and professionalism.
COMPARED TO HARD SKILLS …
Unlike hard skills, which can be thought of as the technical skills and knowledge we bring to a workplace, soft skills are interpersonal. Soft skills can be demonstrated and applied in a variety of situations, and this makes them “highly transferable” across jobs, occupations, and industries.
It would be wrong to say that soft skills are more valuable than hard skills, but it is surely possible that soft skills will make any career more valuable and productive. All too often, employers say that they can train “almost anyone to make their widget.” The great struggle for employers is finding “good workers” who are worth training in the first place. Soft skills make the difference!
LOOKING AHEAD …
When we develop and apply a set of soft skills, we lay a foundation to build stronger work relationships, to work more productively, and to maximize our career potential.
Best of all, soft skills can be taught and learned — so let’s get started!