In today’s complex business environment, more and more companies are focusing on soft skills to meet the demands of being both interconnected and flexible. Whereas hard skills encompass skills gained through education, certification, on-the-job training and similar programs, soft skills are interpersonal—people skills. Soft skills include the ability to manage and control your emotions, communication skills, leadership, adaptability and problem solving. Hard skills may appear impressive on your resume, however soft skills are what will differentiate you from competing candidates.
Executives now consider soft skills critical to fostering employee retention and creating a meaningful workplace culture according to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report. Moreover, 92% of Deloitte’s respondents rated soft skills as a ‘critical priority,’ noting that many HR leaders’ mission has evolved from “chief talent executive” to “chief employee experience officer.”
The focus of this three-part series encompasses three softs skills—the ability to manage one’s emotions, and to communicate and lead effectively. Let’s explore two important ways learning the soft skill of communicating effectively pays off in the workplace.
- Relatability and collaboration – Chief among soft skills is communicating effectively because your non-verbal and verbal language impacts virtually every aspect of your role. Your ability to listen for comprehension—not simply to respond, is equally essential. People who, ‘Let the other person do a great deal of the talking,’ Dale Carnegie’s 15th Human Relations principle, are adept at listening. They understand the importance of showing empathy which can only be demonstrated after diligently listening to another person. By listening and not immediately responding, they ‘show their respect for the other person’s opinion’—Mr. Carnegie’s 11th principle.
Now that they are able to relate to the other person, they can speak calmly and in consideration of what the other person said. This approach ensures that trust, honesty and openness are maintained. Communicating effectively creates a safe environment in which everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinion, even if it differs, which is essential to progress and productivity via collaboration.
- Strong, positive relationships – In the first article of this series, we focused on the ability to control negative emotions which is another soft skill that, when learned and applied, also begets the by-product of positive interpersonal relationships. Learning to communicate effectively is valuable not only in the modern workplace whether among colleagues or clients, but in our personal relationships as well.
For example, consider an employee conducting a 360 degree performance review of a co-worker. By applying Dale Carnegie’s 1st principle, ‘Don’t criticize, condemn or complain,’ and instead, ‘Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view,’ his 17th principle, feedback can be provided in a positive manner for correction instead of a negative manner for condemnation. People who apply these principles typically have stronger interpersonal relationships than those who do not because this positive method of communication allows them to maintain mutual respect and reinforce their genuine concern—despite the fact that the actual message was negative.