Regardless of where you are in the corporate structure, your soft skills – people skills (as opposed to technical skills) – are not only important for improving how you work with a team and how “likeable” you are on the job, but can greatly influence the path of your career. In fact, recent research has found that since 2000, the importance of math and science skills on the job has become less important, and one’s soft skills have become more essential.
Soft skills go beyond your ability to cooperate with people at work, both internally and externally. Focusing on your soft skills can improve your motivation, leadership skills, and conflict resolution skills. To help you live to your “soft skills potential,” we’ve compiled a list of the most important soft skills to focus on in the workplace.
Most important soft skills: Attitude. A famous Winston Churchill quote states, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” How true this saying is – both in and out of the workplace. Your attitude is one of the most important soft skills, and it’s a trait that you can work on improving every day, in every situation. Attitude encompasses looking at opportunities in situations, even when things don’t go as expected, and a positive attitude can help you overcome cynicism and negativity. Instead of becoming a complainer and seeing the bad aspects of a situation or an environment, maintaining a “can-do” attitude will help you find solutions. A positive attitude is contagious – work on yours, and start spreading your proactive approach.
Most important soft skills: Communication. It can be easy to overlook communication as an important soft skill, but articulate verbal skills and proper grammar skills go a long way in not only helping people understand you better, but also improving people’s impression of your intelligence. With the popularity of texting, and an over-reliance on email, it can get easy to get sloppy and neglect your communication skills, but take extra time to ensure you’re expressing yourself clearly, in all mediums. Additionally, pay careful attention to the non-verbal communication skills you project, such as eye contact, how well you listen to others, and your body language.
Most important soft skills: Motivation. Motivation is often a by-product of having a good attitude, but it requires follow-through. Being motivated means that you are a self-starter and the type of person who takes initiative and leads by example. It also means that you come up with ideas and use your creative skills to figure out how to implement your plans. Motivation is another contagious trait that can help transform how others around you work and lead, so invest time in developing this important soft skill.
Most important soft skills: Creativity. Creative skills apply for everyone in the workplace – it’s not just for those who work in design jobs. Technical jobs require an ability to think outside the box, and even tedious tasks can benefit from creativity, if you see a task as something that you can figure out how to do more efficiently. When looking for creative solutions in the workplace, ask yourself if your solution will help you work more effectively, save money, and approach a problem in a novel way.
Start applying your soft skills today
In the workforce, your ability to embrace challenges, communicate clearly, and motivate others are soft skills that can have transformative effects on your ability to do your job well, work with others, and chart your own trajectory for how far you take your career ambitions. Even if you weren't born with the technical aptitude you wish you had, or you don’t have the polished resume that you desire, you can still take your career to new heights by working on the skills you can control, every day: your soft skills.