What Are Soft Skills

 

What Are Soft Skills

What are Soft Skills?

What are Soft Skills?

What are soft skills? Simply put, soft skills are the personal attributes that allow us to effectively relate to others. These skills enhance our personal interactions and lead to greater job performance and satisfaction. Unlike hard skills, which are the technical and knowledge skill set we bring to our work, soft skills are interpersonal and can be applied in a broad array of situations.  Soft skills encompass both personality traits, such as optimism, and abilities which can be practiced, such as empathy. Like all skills, soft skills can be learned.

Definition of Soft Skills

Definition of Soft Skills 

Soft skills are personal attributes that allow us to effectively relate to others. Applying these skills helps us build stronger work relationships, work more productively, and maximize our career prospects. Often we place the focus of our career development efforts on hard skills – technology skills, knowledge, and other skills that specifically relate to our ability to get work-related tasks done. This means we neglect to develop our soft skills.

Soft skills include:

  • Communication
  • Listening
  • Showing Empathy
  • Networking
  • Self-confidence
  • Giving and receiving feedback

Empathy and the Emotional Intelligence Quotient

Empathy and the Emotional Intelligence Quotient

Empathy is perhaps the most important soft skill we can develop for better interpersonal interactions. Empathy is the ability to identify another person’s experience. While we often think of empathy in terms only of identifying with someone’s pain or negative experience, we can apply empathy in a variety of situations. Developing empathy allows us to imagine ourselves in another person’s shoes, to respond to others, and even to vicariously experience others’ feelings of emotions. When we demonstrate empathy, we create connections with others, which can help to build teamwork or otherwise create shared goals. Empathy also helps to forge stronger interpersonal connections between team members and colleagues, which is as important as shared goals or complementary skills when it comes to accomplishing work.

Empathy is one component of what is known as Emotional Intelligence or EI. Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage our feelings so that they are expressed appropriately. Exercising emotional intelligence helps to create harmonious, productive relationships. 

There are four key components to Emotional Intelligence:

  • Self-awareness: The ability to recognize our own feelings and motivations
  • Self-management: The ability to appropriately express (or not express) feelings
  • Social awareness: Our ability to recognize the feelings and needs of others, and the norms of a given situation
  • Relationship management: Our ability to relate effectively to others

 Taken together, these skills make up our Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQI). The EQI is a measure of your ability to exercise soft skills such as empathy.

Professionalism

Professionalism

The word “professionalism” often conjures up images of a cold, distant, brusque person in a nondescript navy blue suit. In fact, many people have the sense that to be “professional” is exactly the opposite of demonstrating empathy and emotional intelligence. However, professionalism is a key soft skill, and it doesn’t require you to be inauthentic, distant, or detached. Professionalism is simply the ability to conduct yourself with responsibility, integrity, accountability, and excellence. Acting with professionalism also means seeking to communicate effectively with others and finding a way to be productive. Professionalism involves what may seem to be small acts, such:

  • Always reporting to work on time and returning promptly from breaks
  • Dressing appropriately
  • Being clean and neat
  • Speaking clearly and politely to colleagues, customers, and clients
  • Striving to meet high standards for one’s own work

Learned vs. Inborn Traits

Because soft skills are talked about as traits of a person’s personality, it may seem as though you have to born with them. While some soft skills come more easily to one person than they might to another, soft skills are not inborn. Like all skills, they can be learned. Because we all have our own preferences and ways of moving through the world, some soft skills may be more difficult to learn than others. But if we think back, there are also aspects of our hard skill set that was difficult at first, though they now seem to come quite naturally to us. We develop soft skills in the same way we develop hard skills – we practice. Spending time with people who seem to be able to effortlessly demonstrate a soft skill that you find challenging is one way to build your soft skill set. Another way is to seek opportunities to practice in which the risk of failure is low until you feel confident in your ability. You don’t have to be born a networker or an empathetic person – you can learn and build these skills throughout your career.

Which of the following are true of soft skills?

  • They are aspects of a person’s personality
  • They are actions as well as characteristics
  • They can promote better workplace efficiency
  • All of these

The technical and knowledge skills we bring to our jobs are known as which of the following?

  • Soft skills
  • Hard skills
  • EI
  • None of these

The ability to identify with another’s feelings is known as which of the following?

  • Empathy
  • Sympathy
  • Projection
  • Role-playing

Which of the following are components of emotional intelligence?

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Management
  • All of these
  • Relationship Management

The ability to recognize our feelings and express them appropriately is known as which of the following?

  • Psychological intelligence
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Emotional regulation
  • Emotion management