If you are just starting out in your career, you will realise that the recruiters are maybe looking for the kind of people who have the potentials of becoming leaders. They will never automatically expect you to have all the needed qualifications and experience from that early moment in your career.
That should be fair enough. Don’t you agree? But a good manager or recruiter will certainly need to know that you have the potentials to learn and grow into that leadership role. That should be very important for you to keep at the back of your mind – having the potentials to learn and grow.
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In our last discussion episode, we mentioned the different types of soft skills. And like I said then, there are just as many soft skills as you can possibly imagine. So, in this episode, I’m not even going to try and list out all of them because it’s not possible, I will simply pick some of the most vital ones that will work for you irrespective of your industry.
Bear in mind that this episode will not go too much in detail in each of these different types of soft skills. Time will simply not permit it because each one of them is a full study that requires hours and hours to evaluate. We are going to reconsider some of them during this year, and maybe dedicating an entire month to each topic so we can better understand them. Ok then let’s go.
In the complex world, we live in today, good communication is one of the most important soft skills to learn. Are you teachable; are you willing to learn? Been able to communicate your ideas to people, whether it is a small group, an individual prospect, co-worker or a large audience is the most powerful tool you can ever have. Communication is everything.
Now imagine yourself as a manager of a company or say you are in business for yourself and have some collaborators working with you. Let’s say you need something to be done in a certain way and very urgently, maybe on that same day. You walk to meet your collaborators and tell them what you want to be done and how it should be done. And then you turn your back and walk away. What do you think will happen?
Most probably, your collaborators will reflect on how to execute your task in the most efficient way possible and then shift it aside to concentrate on the tasks of the day. Sure, they will take action on your request, but maybe tomorrow or the day after. I leave you to imagine the rest.
Learning this one soft skill or how to better communicate your message, your ability to adjust your tone and style according to your audience is so important that it can literarily break or make you.
Good communication not only end with the delivery of your message, but it includes also the “how”. I mean you should help your audience to comprehend what you truly mean so that like in the above example your message can prompt them to take immediate and efficient action based on your instructions. Sometimes, you really need to be there to repeat yourself so that complex issues can be fully explained to colleagues and clients alike. Really, I think it is better to repeat yourself than leave your listeners not fully comprehending your true intention.
Of course, anyone can walk in, make some noise, and throw some jargons in the air. But the question is, do your audience really understand you? Because if they did not, then your communication has been inefficient and that can be very costly, depending on the situation.
In September of 1999, we got the news that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has just lost a $125 million satellite. What happened? Well, this was what happened. When calculating coordinates of a communication station, Engineers at Lockheed Martin used the imperial system, while NASA used the metric system. It was a simple communication error, yet it caused the Mars orbiter to miss its mark, and its engine burned up and vanished in space.
Learning to master good communication skill should never be underestimated. And this should hold true whether you are dealing with a client or working with your co-workers. Good listening and therefore communication skills will help you to avoid some otherwise simple but costly mistakes. It helps you to come out efficient, and obtain your desired results. We will learn more about communication throughout February because there are a lot into the topic and it’s so important that we need to treat it separately. So get ready for that.
Another soft skill you might consider developing today is adaptability. What does that mean? Let’s take it on. The simplest way to describe it will be to adapt, meaning your ability to quickly respond to a situation – the changing trends, innovation, and the disruption in your industry.
If you really think of it, being able to adapt to changing environments and work situations can be really rewarding to you, whether you are an employee or working for yourself.
One thing I have noticed over the years, working with a lot of immigrants or African immigrants in Italy to be specific is that even though we have travelled thousands of kilometres away from our home countries to Europe, we are still sometimes afraid of change. Many are overly suspicious of anything that is new, not willing to adapt easily and some even peddle some irrational conspiracy theories and feed on rumours and fake news that have now dominated everywhere. Some people fear change so much that the only image they have created in their heads about change is that it will make them lose. But really, change is the one thing that is constant.
You see, the reasons that we, collectively as human being, have been able to survive and dominate the planet earth even though we are not the most intelligent or smartest of all the life forms is partly because of our ability to adapt to changes. So adaptability is one of the inherent characteristics of the human being. Society will always change, the system will shake up from time to time and in some instances throw us off our balances. When it happens because it happens every now and then, we should take the courage to adapt and move on.
Say, for instance, you want to start a business or any kind of new sport or something you do not know before. Now, from the very moment you step out of your comfort zone, what you already know, your ability to adapt is going to be very important because everything is new to you. And if you want to remain on your trajectory, you are going to keep adjusting yourself to the situation and growing your wings along the way.
It also means that you are open and willing to learn new things, face new challenges and keep a positive and “I can do it” attitude – a new tenant has just entered into the building from another country, don’t run away, deal with it. Your employer has just introduced new working conditions, do not only complain and appear hopeless before the new conditions, make your plan to adapt to it and you will survive the turbulence.
Tap into your other soft skills like patience, determination and focus and you will find the right way or make one to suit the current situation. That leads us to the next important soft skill to develop, which is creativity.
Now, creative thinking is the ability to consider something in a new way. A creative person never remains fixed in one solution to a problem. You must allow your mind to tap into your reserves, your subconscious or what I want to call “your super-hybrid database”. Creative thinking allows your mind to operate from the standpoint of open-minded analyse in problem-solving, as against a static and orthodox mindset where everything must be according to the book.
If you are interested, I have an online training class where I thoroughly explained this argument. It’s called Growth Mindset For Business & Self-improvement.
You need an open mind-set for your creative juice to flow and many employers highly value creative thinkers for what they can add to the organization. Are you a creative person? Start thinking creatively, today and it is not too difficult. It’s a question of opening up your mind and seeing opportunities everywhere.
I don’t want to sound like I am preaching by saying that we all have huge potentials inside of us. We already know that one might say. We equally know that some people seem to be more able to constantly generate new ideas and think creatively while some others struggle to do the same. What do you think that is the situation? Well, that is the situation because the answer actually lies in our ability to use our creative minds.
Born brand new into this world, we are equipped with the most powerful instrument in the world, called the brain. Look at children who play in their environment and you will understand what I mean. We soon go to school and get used to the idea of conformity. That is followed by our indoctrinations into religious stupidity, of few men who tell us that they know exactly where we will go when we die and therefore must live our lives in preparation for that.
By the time we grow into the so-called mature adults, our brains have been well cooked and loaded with all forms of superstitions and stupidity at best and we so find it difficult to use it for any creative thinking.
I understand, as the saying goes that thinking is the hardest work there is, which is why only a few people engage in it. But, sorry. I don’t think we really have an option here because the nature of our current economy demands that we use our minds for thinking our ways through and most importantly, creatively.
Before I talk about the last skill for our consideration in this article, I want to state that we don’t necessarily need to equate Creative thinking to only the people who are commonly known to be creative individuals like musicians, painters and other artists. Creative thinking is for everyone and the earlier you learn how to think creatively, the better for you.
Talking about empathy, as the last of the five soft skills you need to develop does not mean it’s less important. Empathy is equally highly important as a skill to be developed for your business, in your workplaces and at home. There is no place, where dealing with the human being is important that you will not need empathy.
By definition, empathy is considered as the ability to place oneself in the position of another person. Have you ever talked to somebody who during the conversation tell you something like, “Try to see it also from my point of view?” That is what we are talking about here. It means the capacity to sense the feelings of another person, their points of view. Like, what if you were the other person. Generally, there are two types of empathy as:
- “Affective empathy” refers to the sensations and feelings we get in response to other peoples’ emotions. This type of empathy can be engaged through such technique as mirroring what the other person is feeling, like fear, anxiety or any other form of emotional manifestation.
- The second type of empathy is “Cognitive empathy,” also commonly called “perspective taking,” and it refers to our ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions.
Why are these soft skills important for you to know today? Well, if you are in the business of dealing with people, you need to know the basic psychology of human behaviour. Otherwise, how are you supposed to talk to them, run an effective advert for your business and able to respond to a client who wants to lay a complaint to you, and maybe you can sense across the telephone or email message that the person is not in the best of mood.
It is the basics of interpersonal skills that we are here talking about. Understanding the role of empathy in communication will help you to better engage with people – to serve them better and to get a good return for your hard works.
That is where we will end today’s conversation and I hope you have gotten some value from it. Subscribe to our Mailing List to be notified of our next publication and don’t forget to leave your comment below. I remain Obehi Ewanfoh and talk to you soon