VOS: What are soft skills and how to improve them?

What are soft skills and how to improve them?

Productivity & Growth
Emotional wellbeing

February 2021

What are soft skills and how to improve them?

Soft skills are among the most important qualities people can have nowadays. Employers are well aware of how beneficial and efficient it is to have people with this skill set in their work environment and therefore they’re trying to select them from the job candidates. However soft skills are not only useful when you’re working, but they also play a great role in your everyday social life. You use them when you’re having lunch with your friend, or when you’re buying a coffee in a coffee shop, and overall every time you interact with someone. Okay, now we know that soft skills are something desirable and useful but what exactly are ‘soft skills’ and how can we improve them? Let’s find out!

What are soft skills?

Soft skills have a direct connection to emotional intelligence and are also known as ‘interpersonal skills.’ These qualities are key in building relationships with other people, colleagues, friends, family members, simply with anyone around you. Therefore most of these traits are connected to communication. Among the soft skills, we can find examples of adaptability, leadership, creativity, teamwork, problem-solving or communication and persuasion skills, empathy, ability to negotiate, friendliness or confidence.

Why are soft skills so important?

Soft skills are a great tool that makes everyday life and interpersonal relationships easier, who wouldn’t want that? Also, these attributes of personality are very valuable in a work environment. Employers want to surround themselves with people who would support the team, cheer up the collective and help them effectively solve the obstacles. Nowadays it’s not just about your knowledge and how good you are at the job but also about what you can bring to the work collective and how are you able to cooperate with your colleagues.

How to improve your soft skills?

In the following paragraphs, I would like to share with you some ideas and tips on how to improve your soft skills. So let’s do it!

1. Time to reflect

Look at the soft skills list written above and try to find which of those skills you already have, which of these is your strongest one. Think about the situation when you used these qualities, what did it bring you and how hard was it for you. Ask your friends, your previous/current employer, or your family about your soft skills which qualities do they see in you? And do you agree with them? These reflections can be a great starting point because you will see your strongest qualities and find out which of your qualities you can rely on.

2. Take a course

Nowadays you can learn anything online and soft skills are not an exception. You can find really affordable and professional soft skills courses on educational platforms like Udemy, Coursera... The biggest advantage is that you can find the course that would suit you the best and when and where you will work on your skills. Here is a list with a selection of online soft skill courses from Coursera.

3. Get inspired

Another way to get some information, tips and improve yourself is to watch inspirational TEDtalks and YouTube videos where the experts and successful people share their thoughts and experiences. For example, this YouTube video by Skillopedia is filled with essential information about soft skills and you can learn a few tips on how to improve yourself. If you’re a reader, don’t hesitate to get some motivational and educational books about soft skills. Try for example 10 Skills for Effective Business Communication by Jessica Higgins. Would you like to get some other tips on soft skills books? You can find them in Carla Rudder’s article.

Keep in mind that improving soft skills is a real journey. It can take time especially when you’re trying to develop some of those which are not natural for you. You’re about to work on personal quality and that is a big step! So appreciate and celebrate even the smallest progress because you always have something to be proud of.

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