We often hear the term "Soft Skills", especially in work places. What are soft skills? The term "Soft Skills" refers to the personal traits, characteristics and competencies that projects how an individual relates to others, and is often interchanged for people skills or interpersonal skills. Soft Skills are those personal attributes that demonstrate a high level of cognitive ability or what we know as Emotional Intelligence. The term Emotional Intelligence was popularized by psychologist and behavioral science journalist Dr. Daniel Goleman in his book “Emotional Intelligence" in the year 1995. These Soft Skills or Emotional Intelligence include empathy, analytical thinking and etiquette, which are unquantifiable, intangible in nature but according to Dr. Goleman is the single largest predictor of success in workplace.
It is often said that Hard Skills will get one an interview but it is the soft skills that will help one get the job and keep it too. To achieve a productive and healthy work environment soft skills are of utmost importance. After all, the workplace is an interpersonal space where healthy relationships must be built and fostered, where different perspectives must be exchanged and occasional conflicts that may arise must be resolved. Recruiters and companies always look out for candidates with the right technical skills but soft skills are the difference between adequate candidates and ideal candidates. In today’s competitive job market the criteria of selecting a candidate does not stop at his/her technical ability or specialist knowledge. Companies look out for people who have those Soft Skills that will make them the future leaders. Take for example, a sales person who has exhaustive knowledge of the market and the product but is unable to close a deal, or retain a client due to lack of soft skills or interpersonal skills and negotiation. Moreover, soft skills are not just important while dealing with external clients and customers, they are equally important when it comes to interacting with fellow colleagues. Hard Skills relate to an individual in isolation, persons technical ability, his/her expertise over a subject while soft skills relates to how an individual works with others. Companies value soft skills because it is the soft skills that enable people to function and drive team work and the organization as a whole.
The Soft Skills that are most in demand and will be in future are;
1.Creativity: Creativity is one of the core soft skills that employer looks out for. Creative individuals are always an asset for the companies as they are innovative in their working practices as second nature. For a business to move forward fresh ideas and regular inputs of creative thinking is the key. Creativity is useful as it helps us think out the box. Dull and repetitive work becomes interesting and efficient when the creative centers of our minds are engaged. A creative individual is more adept at solving problems as they are curious to try something new and see if a process can be improved or given a fresh perspective. These kind of creative individuals not only go far in their career but are an asset for the company.
2.Persuasion: In a work environment, at times whenever people work together, conflict and disagreement are bound to arise. Every individual is different and have different needs, perspective, aims and beliefs and they sometimes clash in a work environment. These are times when negotiation and persuasion can be used to address such situations. It is always not necessarily a conflict that needs to be resolved through persuasion. Persuasion and negotiation skills are essential for sales and marketing, to sell an idea to a prospective client which in turn is beneficial for the business.
3.Collaboration: Collaboration is a soft skill that employers value in the workplace. Collaborations take teamwork to a higher level as collaboration allows a team to be more productive and achieve significant goals. The collaboration skills in a workplace are developing the right Company Culture, Clear definitions, and Recognition and Respect, Putting Group goals above personal ones. Workplace collaboration is multifaceted and it includes a range of abilities, good communication skills, problem solving, empathy, accountability is also part of good collaboration.
4.Adaptability: Adaptability as a skill is the ability of a person to respond positively to a given situation, through change in actions, course of approach of doing things in order that it suits the new situation. Workplaces are dynamic and are constantly evolving. In order to run a successful business it is very important to have a force that easily adapts to the dynamics of business requirements, or to meet the demand s of the customers. It is one of the key skills that have many multinationals companies running their shows successfully for years. Adaptable workforce is an asset to any organization. This is one soft Skill that will always be in demand.
5.Time Management: Time is one commodity that is very scarce. Once lost one can never ever get it back. For the smooth and efficient running of a business, corporation or company time management is of the essence. Time management too has its own components like: Creating and keeping deadlines, Delegation, Goal setting and meeting goals, Decision making, Managing appointments, Team management, Project management, making schedules. Time management is the process that involves planning and exercising conscious control over the time that is spent on specific activities. Time management also means respect for other's time as well.
Soft Skills are not easily detectable unlike hard skills. However, both Hard Skills and Soft Skills work harmoniously well. Desirable qualities of certain form of employment necessarily does not depend entirely on the acquired knowledge about products and services but there are certain skills that have evolved with the human race, the ability to deal with people, understand, empathize , setting goals, being creative and thinking out of the box. These qualities will always be nurtured by prospective employers and will always remain in demand for at the end of the day, no matter what the business is all about but it is these unique humane qualities that not just makes the job easier but as humans these qualities makes our lives productive, happy and healthy.
By: Madhuchanda Saxena
Posted By - Assistant Editor