This one should probably have been my first article. Let’s take a look at why Soft Skills are important and how you may benefit from developing them.
No matter what your goal and whether it be immediate or longer term, I can assure you that Soft Skills will help you get there. How can I be so sure? Firstly because however you define yourself and however you evaluate yourself, it has something to do with other people in some way. I will expand later. Secondly, basically everyone I talk to includes a people element in their current challenges/successes/goals. Since I have personally gained benefit for developing my Soft Skills, and seen the results for others, I am confident it will assist you too.
I don’t think it’s any secret or something I need to convince you of; day to day our lives are greatly influenced by those we live, work and randomly come into contact with. Soft Skills are core to the interactions and reactions we get in all these situations. A simple example; imagine this morning a colleague was short, your partner was rude, or the guy you bought your coffee from seemed to have more important places to be. Did it have an impact on you? So what about the people you spend hours with each day, how are they impacting you? In what ways?
I also said that however we define and/or evaluate ourselves, it has something to do with other people. A few examples. If you value being the best at what you do then you need to work with and be in competition with people. To be the kindest and most loving you need people to care for and then value your caring nature. To be creative and dynamic you need an environment that enables it and encourages it. We evaluate ourselves by how much we earn, where we live, what we do. All in comparison to others.
Also, as a species we are very group oriented. The way our brain develops is very much about pigeon holing and classifying information. We end up realising our sense of self through the people and groups which we belong to. Take a second to think about the ways in which you define yourself; clothes, interests, activities, job, friends and family. Nearly every element of who you are is connected to a group. Even non-conformance is a group. Perhaps another way of thinking about it. If you were the only person on the planet, do you think the things you do, what you value and perspective of the world would change?
If how we relate to others makes all the difference, the next question is……. what do you want to do with this potential?
Many of us hit the same challenges in different areas of our lives, or repeatedly over time. This for me is where developing Soft Skills can also be an introspective journey and not just new skills for understanding and working with others. By learning about how we ourselves operate, we can learn and adapt more specific Soft Skills. This is why mainstream leadership and communication courses are not overly effective; like a “miracle diet” old habits quickly move back in. Or something else we are doing prevents the techniques we learn from working. They are a quick fix and don’t provide everything you need for sustainable change. You can take the self exploration as far as you want. Most of what you will learn you are probably aware of anyway and being able to tie it to the outcomes you’re getting is all that’s needed.
I could rattle on for hours with examples but let me try this: Picture a goal you have. Ideal job, a lifestyle, a relationship, fame, happiness etc. Now picture someone you think has achieved it. How do they act? How do they relate to others? Imagine them chatting with the people that support them, and challenge them. Now imagine the key moments in their lives that led them to their goal. What did it take them to be successful?
Most of us will come up with a fairly similar list of Soft Skills regardless of who the person is and what they have achieved. These are the skills you can master. Once you have mastered them then the possibilities are endless.