That’s because soft skills like grit, excitement, and respect make a stellar employee. The skills outlined on a résumé only tell a fraction of the story, while understanding an individual’s work ethic, how they overcome adversity, and how they interact with their peers is much more indicative of success.
The hard truth about hard skills is that they can have a short half-life. Constant innovation, technology updates, and new feature release quickly obsolete many of these skills. Meanwhile, soft skills never expire—they are relevant, transferable, and keep a person highly employable.
These changes may include a new manager with a different work style, adding new responsibilities to your role, or a shift in priorities with the signing of a new client. What do you need to be adaptable? An open mind, a can-do attitude, and a growth mindset.
Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to perceive, evaluate, and control their emotions while being aware of other people’s emotions. We also refer to a person’s emotional intelligence as their EQ (emotional quotient). A high-EQ person thinks before they speak and act. This person also practices self-reflection and understands their feelings. They also don’t make decisions while angry. When they’re anxious, they pause and take a step back. They work to regulate their emotions, shift gears when needed, and don’t let their feelings interfere with producing great work.
Effective communication is both an art and a science—it’s much more than transferring information from one person to another. A good communicator can express ideas clearly, and they can also engage proactively and productively. When you communicate effectively, there’s little room for misunderstanding. Whether sharing your vision with your team or outlining the scope of a project, be concise and clear. Your ability to communicate well will strengthen new connections, bolster long-term relationships, and boost your reputation.
Negotiation is one of the most crucial yet underrated soft skills. Underneath the negotiation umbrella, you’ll find time management, active listening, accountability, and critical thinking.
There’s a reason they say “teamwork makes the dream work.” A business doesn’t run without a team; an effective team player can drive success and contribute to a positive environment. Always celebrate your team members’ small wins and give them the kudos they deserve. This creates a happy work culture in which team members feel recognized, heard, and seen. Motivated employees will be willing to go the extra mile (or two) and can increase company productivity by 10x. Remember that the small things are the big things. Celebrate your small wins, small projects, and small ideas. Don’t neglect the minor stuff while chasing big goals.
To accelerate your career, make managing your time your number-one priority. How do you do this? Remember that you can’t do everything at once (and do it well). Make a list and prioritize your tasks. Divide the tasks into “urgent,” “important and nonurgent,” and “other” categories. Use tools to automate away some tasks, delegate to others, and delete unnecessary tasks. You can also physically block off focus time in your calendar, create checklists, and develop templates for specific tasks.
Aim to avoid conflict in the organization or, when conflict is unavoidable, work to resolve disputes early on (before they snowball into more significant problems). You can apply the communication and negotiation skills I mentioned earlier to find solutions to conflicts—solutions that are right for you and the company. Often a conflict results from incorrect (or lack of) information, so clear, accurate, and timely communication of guidelines, deadlines, and policies can prevent many workplace conflicts.
Take responsibility and accept ownership for your work. Especially when you manage a team, remember that “the buck stops with you.” Your team loses, and outcomes can reflect your work ethic. It’s also important to accept the consequences of the mistakes you make on a project and never place the blame on others. Deliver your projects on time, respect your colleagues, and show up every day with enthusiasm.
Competition is a short-term game, whereas collaboration leads to long-term connections and mutual growth. Collaboration also results in deeper relationships, increased creativity, and more innovative results. Two brains are better than one, and the creative ideas sparked by collaborative brainstorms push a company forward.
The hard truth about soft skills is that they matter—a lot. Soft skills are often overlooked because they are difficult to measure, calculate, and quantify. However, mastering soft skills is essential to navigating today’s fast-paced, ever-changing work environment and evolving your career. When you develop, hone, and practice soft skills over time, everyone reaps the rewards—you, your colleagues, and your organization.