3B: Develop your Soft Skills

You can do anything, and be anything if someone helps you!

Having soft skills, is a “need” in the 21st century global economy, just look at what the Wall Street Journal says, Wall Street Demands Soft Skills. That 2017 article supports a previous study by Bryant and Stratton College which concluded that 93% of employers agree that soft skills are “weighed more heavily,” when vetting job candidates than their actual job skills: Soft skill are more important than job skills. However, most high school, and college, students have no idea what soft skills are. 

As part of your soft skills training it is important to remember this phrase, “Your last boss is your next reference and soft skills matter.” To drive this point home, take a look at this article explaining the “Nine Things Never to Say to your Boss:” Nine Things Never to Say to your Boss. Soft skills refers to the ability to think critically, solve problems, understand and appreciate the value of diversity and intercultural competence; plus the ability to have a good, professional relationship, with your boss and your co-workers.

21st century employers want to hire individuals who understand the value of keeping every interaction with coworkers and their bosses on an interpersonal, aka, professional level. Interpersonal means when at work only talk about matters related to work, never get personal. In addition, 21st century employers are looking for individuals who are trained in the importance of the soft skills such as:

  • Making others feel important by paying attention to their concerns.
  • Looking good and smelling good, it makes people want to be around you. (Keep in mind that too much perfume or cologne is not good, be moderate)
  • Being the type of person that helps reduce stress in the workplace.
  • Critical Thinking, problem solving, and intercultural relations.
  • Recognize that gender roles exist but they perpetuate stereotypes about women and men. Gender roles can be a great source of stress. For example, calling something a “woman’s job, or man’s job,” while at work can be a source of tension for some. Do not perpetuate stereotypes about groups of people while at work.
  • Keeping promises, and doing what you say you are going to do.
  • Not gossiping.
  • Keeping your personal life, and professional life separate.
  • Speaking well, using proper English, being confident and not using profanity at work.
  • Having a positive attitude.
  • Coming to work well rested and ready to go.
  • Getting professional help for any emotional, alcohol, or drug abuse problems.
  • Arriving early to work, 10-15 minutes early or, if you are going to be late, notify your supervisor using the method that he, or she, recommends.
  • Following work rules.
  • Asking for criticism, asking how you can do something better shows your boss that you care; however, you must implement what they tell you.
  • Showing appreciation for training, support, input, and feedback.
  • Keeping your emotions under control, if you feel yourself getting angry, it may help to slowly count up to 90.
  • Doing your best to meet, or exceed, your employer’s expectations.
  • Volunteer for things.
  • Trying to solve problems before asking for help from your boss.
  • Admitting mistakes and learning from them.
  • Being a team player and helping co-workers, but not at the expense of completing your own tasks.
  • Remembering that 85% of success depends upon your soft skills. Only 15% of success depends upon your job skills.
  • Respecting people of all races, backgrounds, and sexual orientations. The laws have changed and Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) peoples have the legal right to get married. As a result, many companies have internal policies that protect members of that community. It may be a violation of company policy to criticize the LGBT community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc…
  • Doing your best to handle conflicts well by using critical thinking techniques such as those demonstrated below:
    • Step 1 – If there is a conflict, research and document the facts surrounding the event. Start with the party who was offended. Do not collect opinions. Ask them exactly what happened.
    • Step 2 – Go to the accused and collect the facts according to them. A criminal investigator will often approach the accused and say, “we know you did it.” That is not acceptable. Ask the accused for the facts, and their opinions also.
    • Step 3 – Try not to let your personal biases and prejudices get in the way. Most people have biases, and prejudices. If you have a pattern of treating certain types of people differently, you may have one. However, do not let that come through at work, it could lead to a lawsuit.
    • Step 4 – Document only the facts, and then try to come up with a win-win for both sides. A win-win is often a solution that protects the egos, and careers, of both parties, plus the company. Protecting the company is first and foremost in the opinion of every employer. Being a fair, and balanced, problem solver will make you a valuable employee.

Because most companies are global these days, it is also important to respect other cultures.

Proceed and read p. 50-59 of the workbook: Intercultural Competence

copyright 2015, 2016, 2017

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