Soft skills are the most important skills you will need to achieve success in your professional and personal lives. So, what are soft skills?
Soft skills, which are likely the hardest skills of all, are the skills that characterize our relationships with ourselves and others. They are skills like self-awareness, collaboration, resilience, communication skills, and more. Even though 92% of executives believe soft skills are equally important or more important than technical skills, 89% of executives say that it is difficult to find people with these soft skills.
I have owned a soft skills training company called SkillsCamp for over 3 years now. Through SkillsCamp, I’ve had the pleasure of working with dozens of organizations from large Fortune 500s and start-ups to educational and governmental organizations at every level. Across every industry, we’ve helped people build these crucial soft skills and in doing so, I’ve gained insight into the most important soft skills across all industries. Though we offer a wide variety of skill competencies, these 5 are often the ones that come before the others. Whether you work alone, in a giant team, in a corporate office, or remotely, these skills matter.
If you work on developing these soft skills, I promise you will improve your performance and your well-being.
Self-awareness is often the golden skill underlying many soft skills. Before you can manage your interactions with others, you must first understand your own thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and actions. By understanding your strengths and weaknesses, how you cope with stress, or how you speak to others, you will be better able to tailor your actions to the people you’re with. You will also be better able to understand your thresholds for stress thus making you better able to cope and bounce back in the face of difficulties.
To-Do: If you want to start today, try downloading and filling out some of SkillsCamp’s self-awareness activities and explore your beliefs, values, motivators, and perception gaps. DOWNLOAD HERE.
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone magically had confidence? Unfortunately, that’s not the case and I often see a lack of self-confidence become a barrier to learning other positive skills such as presentation skills or leadership. On the other side a lack of self-confidence can cause you to frame situations in ways that confirm your opinion of yourself (confirmation bias!). For example, you see two people whispering and believe they are making fun of you. In all reality, they could be talking about their kids or lunches. But, you may create a story in your head that causes you to shy away from those colleagues.
To-Do: This may be one of the hardest skills to build, but start seriously thinking about what makes you feel your best. Is it certain people? What is it about the way they treat you? Is it when you dress a certain way? Write these things down and try to add them to your life. Try positive affirmations and practice gratitude! Also, watch Dr. Amy Cuddy’s TED talk and fake it until you become it!
After reviewing hundreds of successful people in all industries, we found that the number one quality they attributed to their success was being able to bounce back from failure and persevere in stress. How do you cope with stress? In the face of adversity or failure, how easy is it for you to overcome? When we do things that challenge us, stress is inevitable. We must learn to withstand stress because a lack of resilience can lead to dwelling on problems, feeling overwhelmed, more conflicts, using unhealthy coping tactics to handle stress, and developing anxiety and depression.
To-Do: There are many things you can do to build resilience, but for today, simply try a gratitude journal. Gratitude is one of the 5 factors of resilience and helps build optimism, another factor in resilience. Secondly, download and fill out one of SkillsCamp’s resilience exercises around coping strategies. DOWNLOAD HERE.
4. Resourcefulness & Problem Solving
Out of personal experience, a lack of resourcefulness or problem-solving capability has been the deficit that most annoys my clients. I hear things like “can’t you just look it up on Google” or “can you stop bothering the manager with every little question?” The ability to navigate difficulties and find creative solutions to problems is key to success in any role at any level.
To-Do: GOOGLE IT. I’m not kidding here. It’s actually incredibly surprising how many people don’t use this tool – maybe they think it’s not professional? IT IS. Can’t figure out how to use the Photoshop template? Google it. Lost on your way to the team social? Google it. Do you have an internal resource hub? Use it!
5. Emotional Intelligence
Whether you’re a manager, a team member, dealing with clients, or simply interact with people in general, emotional intelligence is increasingly becoming one of the most important skills any individual can have. While most workplace conflicts come from interpersonal conflict, emotional intelligence can help prevent these conflicts and promote a positive culture, higher job satisfaction, and more effective employees. Understanding another’s feelings, needs, and motivators makes you a better team player, more adaptable, and a better salesperson too!
To-Do: Emotional intelligence can be broken down into self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship management, so for this action item, I will revert you back to the self-awareness activities. It must start here.
There a lot of soft skills we can build in ourselves, but these are definitely the top 5 that are important no matter your industry, job, or workplace culture. Start building them today! If you’d rather do it with your organization, reach out to SkillsCamp, and we’ll make it happen!
SkillsCamp is a soft skills training company working with businesses and educational institutions to build soft skills in their staff and students — skills like resilience, collaboration, communication, and more. Visit us at skillscamp.co.
Bailey Parnell is the Founder & CEO of SkillsCamp, a soft skills training company, and was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women. Bailey is a TEDx speaker with near 1 million views, an award-winning digital marketer, and a businesswoman with a talent for helping people develop the skills they need for success. Her work and expertise have been featured in Forbes, CBC, FOX, Flare Magazine, and more. Bailey is also currently completing her part-time Masters in Communications and Culture at Ryerson University with research looking into social media’s impact on mental health, the results of which she presented at the World Youth Forum in Egypt.