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For a business to succeed, you need thinking brains. There is no doubt on this. This is the reason the contemporary industries both big and small employs consultants of various streams. This only exhibit the saying, "two heads are better than single". A decade ago, the production manager or the line manager or anyone for that matter who is part of the administration was displaying his/her personal strengths in the workplace thinking that it was the way of leading a business. However, the thinking has changed and it calls for an attitudinal change that results in the revamping of any administration. One of the important personality traits is the ability to express oneself clearly, confidently and effectively to the other. It is evidently imperative for a manager dealing with his team. The success of the team primarily depends on the 'communication' that is to the point and is clearly understood and comprehended in line with the expressed intention of the manager. To this reason, recruiting companies look for candidates who are good in communication skills. I.e., spoken and listening. Many aspirants fail in this aspect, even though they are exceptionally skilled in technical aspect.
Soft skills do not mean only communication skills. Soft skills refer to a sociological term relating to a person's "EQ" (Emotional Intelligence Quotient). This is a 'package' of skills related to personality development, social skills, communication and language skills, interpersonal habits, friendliness and optimism that demonstrate the relationship with the other.
"Planning is necessary but the execution of the planned thought is also equally important.Â And it takes soft skills to execute any idea because it involves dealing with people directly,"Â says Gadewar, an ERP consultant with Pricewaterhouse Cooper. Most of the time, soft skills are overshadowed by the overemphasis given to the test qualifications in the selection of a candidate for a job. While the test qualifications of a candidate still remains vital and important, soft skills demonstrates whether a candidate has the skills of work readiness and build the team that decides the success and failure of any skilled work.
Soft skills remain essential to any person who wants to demonstrate the maturity of thinking and responding to the people around and situations. This also means being proactive to any, otherwise provoking situations, while displaying one's effectiveness in handling the situation without allowing it to grow into worse.
The recruiting agencies, by and large, agree with the concept that soft skills play an important role over a longer time than hard skills or occupational skills in exhibiting the professionalism of a person. It is true that occupational skills are very much vital and need to be capacitated on a regular interval basis. However, the need for enhanced soft skills that help build a customer basis is much more essential for a sustainable business in any industry. To excel in professional as well as personal life, it is necessary to equip with soft skills. Unlike other subjects that can be easily taught in a classroom, soft skills need more of practice and less of a theory. The more you practice the better it becomes part of a person and the better it becomes part of a person, the higher the professional personality is developed. It is to be noted here that the more a profession demands of public relations, the higher the development of soft skills the person should possess. In other words, in order to build a better customer base, the person dealing with customers, whether it is directly or indirectly, should be enhanced with soft skills.
Why we need soft skills?
Soft skills are personal skills, which make a person more polished and more successful. Soft skills are part of interpersonal and intra-personal skills that play a crucial role in demonstrating the characterized relationship with the other. Even for those working in IT related jobs, the need for becoming professional in soft skills is equally important to that of technical skills. The IT technical-support staff or anyone working at the customer service centers often interact with their existing or potential customers either over the phone or by emails and this interaction demand the personnel being equipped with soft skills, in particular, the communication skills.
Soft skills differentiate a person from the other on the basis of his/her interpersonal relationship within the group or outside of it. Soft skills mark each of us in varying degrees on the basis of the knowledge that each one of us has. In addition to being technically proficient in our related professions, it is indispensable to be adequately equipped with soft skills. Behavioral experts say that there are many soft skills, which need to make our interaction with people or the environment friendly and productive. Another reason for training ourselves in soft skills is that they are not taught in schools or colleges to an extent comparable to the regular academic studies. Hence, it has become indispensable to get trained in soft skills, otherwise, we would be lacking behind in many ways.
When you want to have an appointment with a doctor, who do you prefer? Is the one who listens to you and take time to clear your doubts or the one who treats you as if he has some other urgent business than spending time with you.? When you want to have a receptionist in your front office, what type of girl you look for? Do you expect her to be more pleasant and answering politely and show friendliness in the voice or the one who speaks straight to the face of your customers? It is true that any employee needs technical or job-related skills to be top of the other, but they are not sufficient for an employee who aspire for a progress in his/her career.
Whether or not you accept, emotions are an integral part our biological make up, and they do influence our behavior on every occasion.
Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and former New York Times reporter, published the international best-seller, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ(Bantam Books, 1995). In it, he says that emotional intelligence -- which can loosely be described as a person's ability to manage his or herself and relate to other people -- matters twice as much as IQ or technical skills in job success. In his follow-up book, Working with Emotional Intelligence(Bantam Books, 1998), he reveals that factors such as self-confidence, self-awareness, self-control, commitment and integrity not only create more successful employees but also more successful companies.
Researches show that companies do look for staff with a pleasing personality and character at the time of recruitment, because they count on their jobs. Skills that form part of Emotional Intelligence can be taught. Soft skills can be developed over the time. Soft skills remain an integral part of our interaction with our clients, even if the company is dealing with IT solutions. Remember, as a team leader, you will be dealing with people who are same like you; full of emotions, ready to pounce on, possibly to overlook, get wild, ignore, submissive, ready to agree and etc. Emotional Intelligence is one of the indispensable skills that any leader is required of for a successful career.
Companies across the countries have come to terms with the reality that training their own employees in interpersonal skills especially those skills that help them in handling themselves at workplaces and in dealing with their customers and peers. Most of the time and most of the companies give trainings to their employees in soft skills with a focus on communication skills with an aim to make the employees pleasant with the customers. Nevertheless, what the companies forget most of the time is that the employees also need to be equipped with the same kind of skills that enable them to build their interpersonal relationship with their peers. Soft skills trainings should make the employees aware of what is going around them, and not just showing empathy or being optimistic.
Soft Skills make you assertive in your approach to your peers or customers. Assertiveness can be defined as the ability to express yourself without imposing yourself rude or aggressive. The fine tuning of character is done with the soft skills. Soft skills enable the employee to focus on real time problems and challenges that he/she faces ordinarily at the work place. Having trained in soft skills, the employees can comfortably look for solutions for the daily issues from within.
Leaving aside work environment, training a person in soft skills also enable the person's relationship improve dynamically with his family members, especially with his wife, and children. A new wave of lovingness is experienced in the relationship and a new ray of life is experienced in the relationship. Such trainings become handy for the person who has been trained in soft skills in building lasting friendships. The person is capable of analyzing his relationships whether it is with his wife or children or friends or even with his neighbors and make amendments that make the relationship grow further and remain cordial and caring.
Soft Skills That We Use in Our Day-to-Day Living
Every employee wants to be trained in soft skills to demonstrate his/her ability to deal with peers at work place, meeting the deadlines, or dealing with customers. We have come across employees who put up pleasant shows even before those customers who yell at them at the top of their voice. We have come across employees who maintain decorum and decency in the presence of their boss or team leaders. However, when the same employee or team leader comes back home, the reality is something calls for introspection. Please, let us save some soft skills to our own near and dear ones.
Soft skills are not those which are in demand only in work places or with colleagues, or with bosses. It is not that as an employee with a dream to go up on your professional ladder, you should not be demonstrating professionally your soft skills in your workplace or with your peers and superiors. The concern is that you be the same back in your families. I want to say, soft skills are essential not only at the working place, also at your own homes. Let your own loved ones know and feel at home with your physical presence with them. Instead of yelling at your small kid, instead of beating the tender ones at homes; instead of shouting at your wife, be cool and be communicative. A refined person with soft skills allows the other to feel at home with.
Our daily life begins with conversations with our family and ends with the same. The nature of the interactions be it at home or outside or at workplace determine the success and happiness that revolve around our lives. Recognizing the individuality of the other and valuing their perspectives are important qualities of interpersonal relationship. However it is also important to distinguish the difference between being assertively friendliness and submissive. It means, you should not permit the other to trample over you and crush your dignity. Strong interpersonal skills implies the ability to interact with confidence. Getting trained in interpersonal skills also helps any person in working as a team, asserting one's opinion without encroaching into the other's privacy. Be assertive, but honor the human rights of the other.
One of the important soft skills that we use daily is communication skills. Communication skills do not mean just listening attentively and speaking clearly. It is often more about listening with attention, understanding body languages, and striving mutually to arrive at possibly and mutually agreeable solutions. Remember, a healthy and skilled communication implies the competency to share and express feelings and opinions while respecting and honouring the other and their ideas. As you have the right to accept or reject the ideas of the other, they also enjoy the same.
Be a little more creative in your relationship at home or at the workplace. Do you know that everyone of us is playing multiple complex roles and live with complex relationships in life? Don't give any room for the old concept that not everyone is creative. It is now proved again and again that everybody is capable of creative thinking. Interestingly researches have shown the difference that separates creative people and non-creative people. It is basically the difference in thinking pattern; people who consider themselves as creative, they believe that they are creative and those who declare themselves as non-creative don't seem to be believing in themselves that they are creative.
Learn to speak such a way that you avoid causing offence or revealing a confidential information
When you attend a job interview, the recruiting officer primarily looks for excellent communication skills in you. Having a good communication skill does not indicate being 'chatty'. As interpersonal relationship is important to build a lovely relationship at home, it is no less required in the workplace. It is one of the fundamental soft skills that every employee, including the 'boss' should be professionalized with. The way the team communicates within the group and with their immediate supervisors/boss determines the success or failure of a project. Communication skills do never mean only speaking like a chatterbox. This involves intentional listening. Developing a concentrated listening is part of good communication skills. In addition to this, develop a good eye contact when you talk to a person. Good eye contact does not mean staring at the other such a way that he/she gets offended starts, in turn, abusing you.
Keep in mind, people never expect you to agree with them always. They only want to you to listen to them. The more you listen, the better your communication skills become polished and the better it becomes, the greater you are able to communicate your ideas effectively. Most of the time, misunderstanding happens not because the listener fails to comprehensively understand what you are trying to say, it is rather, the kind of confused communication that you are in is the main culprit for misunderstanding. When you talk to your 2 years old child, speak to her how a 2 years old child speaks to her. Don't try to use all the vocabularies you learnt in your high school.
In your conversation with anyone, look for reason to agree with, not conflict
Other than communication skills, we use many other interpersonal and intra-personal skills such as decision-making, caring, being empathy, leadership at home, model leader to children and neighbours and etc in our daily life. We will deal with them all in the later chapters.
Influence of Soft Skills on Men and Women
Most of the industries have recognized soft skills as the key to making a business more sustainable and profitable in addition to making it a better workplace. Increasingly, companies go after those guys and girls and assess them on the basis of soft skills. Recruiters look for competent job seekers with soft skills such as communication, influencing, team management, delegating, appraising, presenting and motivating. Most of the time people just stop with academic and technical skills and very rarely people think of getting trained in soft skills. In many developing countries, the concept of soft skills is only known to a very few. That does not mean that industrialized countries are well aware of soft skills. It is true that the average employee or job seeker is aware of the necessity to be trained in soft skills; many don't know how to use them at the workplace or at home.
Soft skills are not a subject to be studied and forget about them once the result is declared. Soft skills are life skills and the more we practice them the better polished we become.
If you happened to be a supervisor or manager of a company, you can't think of influencing your team members or even a customer on the phone merely by bullying around. Thank God! Most of the companies don't tolerate this attitude. Companies look for people who are capable of influencing the other with fine-tuned communication skills. Other than communication skills, close to its feet comes written skills. Most of the customers that the companies deal with today keep in touch with the companies over the phone or email. However, people prefer to email because of the high cost involved in phoning. In order to give satisfactory answers, the staff needs to have exceptional writing skills.
The skill and aptitude to work under multiculturalism, differences of opinions and diversity is the need of the hour.
Remember the fact that influencing the team members depends on the critical ability of the manager or team leader. Influencing for the sake of improvements or change in the attitude of the trainees. The team leader is expected to master a few core skills that are necessary to make him a catalyst and implementing organizational change. The leader should be able to influence his team to be flexible and adaptable to any demanding situations.
There is no secret that every one of us has been using some soft skills or the other in our daily life. The problem is that people fail to realize. It is the responsibility of the team leader or manager to make his members realize their worth.
Do you know, as you transfer hard skills on your work, you also transfer soft skills both at your workplace and also at your homes.
Simple ways to cultivate soft skills
Just being a member of a talented service team, you cannot survive in the industry for a long time with your professionally acclaimed technical skills alone. You may be one of the leading service personnel available in the industry, but if you don't know how to communicate with the customer, or if you don't know how to take in the suggestions of the manager, you will soon be found knocking at the doors of other companies for a new job. One of the studies conducted by West Virginia University on employees' expectations suggests that only 15 per cent of employees are fired on account of lack of technical skills in their own. This shows the importance of soft skills or personal skills or life skills whatever may be the name, these skills are called in our profession. I am more than sure none of us wants to have a sluggish profession in our life. We all want to have or at least dream of going to the top of the ladder in our professional work. To achieve this mark, if not the top most spot, at least somewhere just below to the top, we need to be professionally technical and technically soft skilled.
Unlike other skills, where you need a particular kind of set ups to practice the theory part of learning, soft skills are open to be practiced anywhere and anytime of the day. All you have to know is acquiring knowledge of these skills. Information is available everywhere. If only you are open to learning and inspiration, you are going to be inspired by every small event that happens around you. My father used to say one powerful anecdote. One of the soft drinks that we have during our summer days in Tamilnadu, India is known as, 'Nannari syrup or surbath' It so happened, the man behind this product had the habit of reading any paper he found, be a slip of paper, or a torn slip, anything for that matter even on the road side. As luck would have been, maybe it could be a reward for his habit of reading, he found a small piece of paper on the road as he was walking and he found the instructions for preparing this sweet and cool summer syrup. I tell you, you will find this anywhere in Tamilnadu. People love it. Why I say this is to help you understand, learning is possible even on the small piece of paper, if only you have the time to look at it and have the willingness to learn from it. What is learned should be practiced and practiced again and again till it becomes part of you so that you stand as a 'professional' in soft skills.
Take time to participate proactively in any soft skills training programmes that your company conducts as part of capacity building programs for the employees. Be mindful of this, 'participation is not important, active participation is necessary'. I have come across participants taking 'leave' of themselves and going out every now and then in the middle of a training program. You become a distraction to others. Because of your frequent going out and coming in, you keep distracting yourself very much and at the end of the day, I wonder whether you gained any new knowledge from the training programme that your company has organized. It would have been better, if you remain in the office and do some regular works- a proactive worker to the company. And, be sure, he is going to remain as he was on the same job for years together, because, he lacks the fundamentally important requirements for his promotion, 'soft skills'.
So, how to cultivate soft skills to be more likely picked up for promotion or even for a new job? Please read! This is very simple task, but most of us don't get into this habit. Secondly, look for any training programme on soft skills. Be part of it and know the interpersonal skills and how to develop them as you go through your daily life. I assure you, people just love to be in your company. Your customers will personally ask for you to discuss their issues, your teammates love to spend time with you, you can surely be sure of your promotions in your professional career and above all, you will have a loving, happy and pleasant family back at home. Soft skills make you more humane and more accepting; more encouraging and more awarding; more leading and more inspiring.
Irrespective of your continuous participation on training programmes on soft skills, keep in mind, you are not going to develop your soft skills in overnight. Trainings are not magic remedies for your development. When you choose a training, make sure it is in line with the demand of your present job. You can always pick up other skills which may be related to the one you would be planning to attend to. Attending training programmes should help you display better interpersonal skills especially your communication skills with your colleague and with the customers. Get constant feedback from your own colleagues and your immediate boss. Feedback, though many don't like it, is one of the best ways to grow 'in practice' at the workplace. Feedback shows you the are you need to improve and the kind of possible alternative behaviour as well.
You need to be personally convinced of the importance of having trained in soft skills and know how crucial they are in your professional career. As I mentioned earlier, it is not only for the sake of your professional career, it is more important to build a positive and rewarding relationship with your friends and much more with your family. Simply speaking, I have come across employees who feel terribly become off mood the moment they see their boss coming. Sometimes, even among colleagues, people suddenly become silent the moment they see a particular colleague coming to them. Did you ever think about this kind of behaviour in your group? Sometimes you might have experienced the same. Nevertheless, did you analyse the reason for such group behaviour. There are times, we move immediately from the place where we are standing, the moment we see a particular person coming towards us. All these indicate that not only the other person lacks soft skills (he might be talkative, aggressive, intruding into your personal life, complaint box and etc) also you lack soft skills (empathy, understanding, acceptance, positive feedback to correct him and etc). This exposes our reality and the need for becoming more humane and this is possible only with soft skills.
Soft Skills and Hard Skills - the Differences
Overview: As I have stated in the first chapter, hard skills are technical skills that need to carry on your professional work. They are indeed important for the success of the organisation's core mission. Where as soft skills are interpersonal skills. Hard skills deal 'lifeless' objects. To excel in hard skills, we need to excel in IQ (use of left brain- your logical centre). Hard skills may include machine operation, computer programming, safety standards, financial procedures and sales administration and etc. If you observe these skills, you can find these skills are manual in nature, quantifiable, trainable, and measurable. The rules and procedures of hard skills remain the same regardless of the companies, circumstances, the people you work with and regardless of the number of employees and the kind of background that each one comes from. However, if you look at the soft skills, they relate to Emotional Intelligence or EQ (use of your right brain-the emotional centre). Soft skills are people's skills or life skills. They are also called interpersonal skills and intra-personal skills. Soft skills are moulded and designed and expected to be 'fit' into the culture and circumstances of the people and the company where one works with.
The nature and the learning methods/ procedure of hard skills remain the same irrespective of the circumstances or people involved in or the kind of companies you work with. If you take computer programming or writing a computer code or language or creating a software- to be more simple, take for example, designing a website. The tools followed maybe differ from each other, but the basis of creating the code is same for any website. The rules for creating even the best code remains the same for anyone working on website development anywhere in the world. However it is not the same with soft skills. Take communication skills for an example; the way of communicating, tone, choices of words, expressions and etc all changes according to the person(s), place and circumstances. Soft skills are to be adapted according to the 'other' person with whom we communicate or relate to. That's the reason, soft skills are also called 'peoples' skills/ or life skills'.
Careers that demands hard skills and soft skills
Hard skills are skills that you learn in a classroom and equip yourself with technical skills. Hard skills are quantifiable and learned at schools or by way of doing a particular work over a period of time. If you want to work on a machine for producing an end product, you need to have professional skills on working on the machine and what you have to do on the machine in order to get the end product. Knowing a particular hard skill makes you in demand. If you are a skilled worker, you can be sure many works are coming on their way to you. Because, only a technically qualified person is needed to put back a malfunctioning machine back to its functioning mode.
On the other hand, soft skills are those that deals with the emotions of people. It is the kind of 'cozy' feeling / comfortable feeling that you create in the listener going to make your profession successful and sustaining. One of the most commonly used soft skill is communication skills. It is an important skills that any employee look for in his/her employee. However it becomes the essential skill for people who are in the field of marketing, MC/hosting, counselling and etc. The success of a counsellor depends on his/her capacity to persuade clients within a stimulated time period. The same goes with those who are involved in the marketing profession. The salesman, though it is essential that he knows some basic ideas about the product he wants to sell, has to have convincing communication skills so that he is able to win over potential customers while retaining the existing customers of his company.
Careers can be classified based on the necessity of both hard skills and soft skills.
A Career that needs more of hard skills and less of soft skills: People who are in professions such as mathematics, statistics, and physics. Their job does not necessarily required to work directly with people who mean much to their business. You find many brilliant people involved in this kind of profession. This profession is suitable for scientists.
Careers that need both hard skills and soft skills: Many professions fall under this category. Professions that require technical skills to excel in the particular field of production and the same time requires the person to master soft skills since he/she has to deal directly with people. Professions such as accounting, lawyers/attorneys, home repairman and etc come under this category. A home repairman is expected to be technically qualified and acquired with professional knowledge of his work, at the same time, he also needs to be professionally feel at home with soft skills since he deals with people on a regular basis. The success of his profession is based as much on his technical knowledge as his soft skills.
Careers that need more of soft skills and less of hard skills: People working in the marketing category such as salesman, MC (a master of ceremony/ or Compère) and so on. A person who hosts an event on a stage need not have much of technical skills whereas it is imperative that he/she is a professional in soft skills especially in the communication skills which is an essential to become successful in this profession.
Know the fact! While it is necessary to be a professional in both hard skills and soft skills, soft skills are more important in many professions than hard skills.
Do you have the desire to advance in your career? Think of ways to improve your soft skills, in particular the following skills; People's skills (communication cation skills, networking skills, leadership skills and Team working skills) and Self-Management Skills (Self-awareness, emotional control, confidence, patience and etc)
The Difference between hard skills and soft skills
Many people are of the opinion that it is enough to know the particular technical knowledge of their chosen careers. Nonetheless, you need both skills to excel in your profession irrespective of its nature of engaging with people. However the degree of engaging these skills in your life varies given to the nature of the profession. You need to remember always that the success or failure of your career affects nearly all parts of your life.
Hard skills are taught in a classroom environment. They are measurable and quantifiable. Hard skills are specific in nature and can be taught easily with an assigned duration. They depict the minimum skills necessary to do a particular job. The product of hard skills is tangible and visible to anyone to see. Employers look for specific hard skills at the time of recruitment and if the applicant happens to be not having the specific hard skills at the expected level of degree, such applicant is rejected in the first place itself irrespective of his/her professionalism in soft skills. Hard skills are essential to get a job but not sufficient to keep the job or advance your career.
Hard skills can be defined as 'The knowledge to perform a particular job' that are essential to qualify for a job.
Whereas, soft skills are more elusive, intangible and hard to quantify. Soft skills are the progressive skills that an employer looks for in an employee in the long run. Soft skills are necessary and imperative for everyday life as much as they are vital for work. Soft skills describe the ways to develop relationships among people both at home and at work place. Soft skills are meant to build relationships with each other. Employers look for at least one essential soft skill from the applicant at the time of interview,; people skills such as setting an example, team building, empathy, acceptance, problem solving, ability to take decisions with less risk factor, delegating and motivating.
Soft skills are not taught in a classroom environment as hard skills are taught. Soft skills are learned as part of capacity building. By way of attending training programmes, feedbacks received from other colleagues and supervisors, Soft skills are learned.
One career consultant puts it, "having hard skills gets you hired; lacking soft skills gets you fired."
In early 1990s, the Secretary of Labour of the United States asked a blue-ribbon panel to determine what makes an employee successful in his/her work environment. This panel published a report called the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS). The report recommends strongly the employees to learn and develop the same kind of soft skills that asked for in the employment ads that the recruiter looks for in reference letters and interviews.
The SCANS report identifies the following soft skills as necessary for work and career success:
Making effective decisions
Giving strong efforts
Working well in teams
Knowing how to learn
Believing in one's own self worth
This is an indication what the corporate world looks for in an employee. These are definitely possible for you to equip yourself with soft skills which would be of much help in improving your rank in your working environment. Always look for the reason for climbing up your career ladder, this will give you the reason for learning something new. Even if you happen to change your career and join in a new job, you may need to learn the hard skills of the job but your soft skills remain always the same and it is going to be an added advantage to you in your new working environment. It won't be surprising that you might soon face promotion on account of your polished soft skills.
Keep in mind, the knowledge of soft skills can change your career for good or bad. Know them how to use to your advantage
Soft Skills - Skills that Enhance Productivity and Performance
A research by Energy and Utility Skills (EU Skills) in 2006 proves that employees who are trained in soft skills have improved in their productivity and performance and provides investment return within 12 months. The research also found that though many people might be working in the same kind of jobs and have identical technical skills, employees who have been trained in soft skills have significantly higher levels of performance and productivity in their work. "Are They Really Ready To Work?" - a report conducted taking employers as the respondents of the survey by The Conference Board, Corporate Voice for Working Families, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the Society for Human Resource Management in 2006 lists out top prioritized soft skills that employers look for in their employees in the following order;
Communication Skills (Oral and Written)
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Teamwork and Collaboration
The survey reveals that too many of the younger generation is inadequately prepared to be successful in the workplace.
Professionalism and work ethic
Besides acquiring basic academic skills, it is essential to acquire skills to apply the academic skills and knowledge in the workplace. In other words, along with theoretical professionalism, you need to have the ability to use the academic knowledge in practical exposure. If you lack the ability to apply the learned skills professionally in your work, there is no use of your technical skills/academic skills. A technical skill becomes more vibrant and productive only when soft skills are added to it. If hard skills or technical skills is taken as 'raw iron ore', soft skills stands as the polishing impact on the iron ore. It is the polishing that gives greater value to the, otherwise, dull iron ore. The demand for iron bar goes up only when it is given a proper shape that will suit the need of the society. Similarly, a technical (hard) skill without soft skills remain 'raw' and needs soft skills that binds people of different origin working at the same place.
Acquiring soft skills not only important at the workplace, it is much more important to make your home a healthy and happy home. Your wife will eagerly look for your coming home, your children will be waiting to hug you, if only you empower yourself with these wonderful soft skills that make you more human and affectionate.
Employable soft skills are as important as academic skills for an easy and definite job recruitment. APJ Abdul Kalam, one of the Indian Presidents who has been considered as a role model by the young and old alike in India and who commands international respect honour, said, 'it is not unemployment that is the major problem; it is the question of unemployability that is the major crisis in this competitive area.."
You might be an outstanding student in your college. You might have even awarded with a gold medal for your exceptionally outstanding academic achievement during your college days. But, remember, you could be one of the worst employee/ colleague in the workplace that no one wants to spend time or share the work with you at the workplace with you. With your polished and highly 'theoretical knowledge which is going to add to your professional and technical skills, you must need posses some of the major soft skills such as communication skills, interpersonal skills, language skills, situational behaviour skills/adaptability skills to maximize your professional success and sustainability in your career. Lack of professional communication capability might hamper your being considered a prospective employee to the company in the interview itself.
Soft skills are not replacement for technical skills. They are compellingly complementary skills for higher production and effective performance
Necessity for communication skills: Oh! You meant that way? I took it the other way. You were not clear to me. If only you have told me that beforeâ€¦!!! I am sure you might have come across these kind of situations in your life, if not often but surely there are. Did you experience anytime people misunderstanding you? Have you felt anytime that you might have used some other vocabulary instead of the one used at the meeting or at meeting your boss? Have experienced anytime feeling shy, uneasy and loss of words, sometime sweating profusely when your boss questioned you? Do you feel inadequately skilled to express yourself effectively to the other? Sometimes, you might have come across people doing the something else than what you have asked them to do. Have you ever thought of the reason for all these? Were you able to pin the 'culprit' that spoils your career from taking off to higher leads? Yes, you are correct. You need to improve your communication skills. Communication does not mean only verbal, it is also equally important to understand and communicate non-verbal means. Communicate so that people know you. Communicate so that people understand your aspirations; communicate so that people know about your vision; communicate so that you find your place ahead of others in your workplace; communicate so that your boss can know you that you are the right person to lead their team and take the company to the place where they want to be in the next 5 years time.
It is no secret that we have no time to sit and enjoy the nature. We have practically no time to talk to our own kids and family members other than on weekends. When I was a small child growing up in a country side, my parents had a lot of time to spend with me. My mother gave me the food. She was beside me encouraging me to eat. She was asking me about my friends and class teachers and who was my friend. She taught me how to build up relationships. My parents had a lot of time to come and talk to my class teachers and check my progress personally and periodically. We used to sit as a family and eat. I can't remember a day when I was eating alone without my parents and brothers around me, unless my dad was out of station on some work. He always made it a point that he would join us if he was at home, even if he had any 'urgent work' to be completed. But when I became a father to my child, things are different now. I remember those days when my son was just a year old or less than that. He never knew when I came from my office. I used to come late evening around 10pm or so and when I came home, he was sleeping. Morning time, oh!!! No time to spend with him! Just busy with time to get to my office. It was only on Sundays, I had some time to spend with him. But the damage was already done to our relationship. When I noticed that my relationship with my son was not 'close' enough that he would feel at home spending time with me in his mother's absence. I was questioning my way of working style. Why should I work this way that keeps my child away from me? What was the purpose of my working day in day out without having quality time to spend with my family? Is earning the only purpose in life? I decided to change my profession. I know, I exist for my family. My family is my primary responsibility, and everything else comes only next to it. Though my wife was with me understanding my working style and the struggle I was going through not able to strike a balance between my demanding work and my family life, I was feeling guilty for not able to spend quality time with my child. I took a bold decision to quit my job and take up something that would give me enough time to spend with my family, that would give me enough time and space to build my closeness with my wife and child. In fact, it was a timely decision that I took that changed my life entirely. Now, I have my entire time for my family, and even when I am away on my job, I feel I am closer to my family. I can sense that closeness even in their physical absence.
Yes, take time to spend with your family. Communicate your thoughts to them. Let them know you inside out, after all they are the only people on earth you can label as 'your own'. You will agree with me, most of the divorces that are happening around the world could have been avoided, if only the couple has taken time to speak the right thing at the right time. Be honest! This the 'mantra' of being united. Have you committed something very grave mistake? Don't worry, take courage to tell your husband / tell your wife. People feel led down, when they come to know your mistake through someone else. Take courage and speak out. Communicate your heart to your 'own'. When you use the right word at the right occasion, you are going to win over the other. Speak out! It is worth doing it.
Same goes with your professional life as well. Do you think your boss has misunderstood you? Do you realize that you have said something that was not you originally planned to say to your boss? Do you feel that you have hurt your colleague, even though you are right? Take time to speak to them. Make an appointment with the person for amending your communication. But mind you, what is said can never be redone. Even if you have clarified to your boss about the misconception you have created earlier, what is said is said. The best solution is 'think and speak', so that you are not landed in trouble. Choose the suitable vocabulary that will convey your thinking exactly the same to your boss or to your team members. If only you communicate clearly and effectively, you will have a profession with lesser misunderstanding.
Remember, Communication can build as much as it can break down the relationship. Choices of words are very crucial in communication.
Effective communication is essential in any successful profession or relationship.
The greatest misconception that we all of us believe in and are very much so sure of our ability at one time or the other regarding communication is that 'what has to be said is said'. Communication involves the transference and understanding of the meaning of the words shared between the sender and the receiver. Any idea or thought expressed or otherwise remains an idea unless the other person understands it within the same context as the sender sees it. It can either be misunderstood which results in the loss of purpose and if it is understood, the result is 'progressive step' of the purpose. Always remember, how your communication is received depends on a set of events, stimuli that person is exposed to. Communication is a dynamic process. What you say and how say it plays an essential role in defining the outcome of the communication you have initiated. Keep in mind, to expand your company's presence or to bring down its shutters depends, besides your technical skills, mostly on your communication skills. It is the way you communicate with your customers and the kind of 'friendly and communicative brochures that you are involved in is going to reflect on the kind of customer base you are going to achieve.
Simply saying, communication skills play the essential role in keeping up your product lineup in competitive scale.
The progress, success and quality of team week to an large extent depends on the kind of 'successful' communication taking place between the team members. Communication skills can be defined as the 'ability to relate and connect with people' of different cultures and characters.
A few Dos and Don'ts for an effective communication process
Never cross your arms or legs when you listen to someone. In many cases, this body language is interpreted as 'you are becoming defensive and guarded in your communication'.
Maintain eye contact with the other. (Please don't maintain such a way the other person thinks you are staring at him/her. In most of the cases, either the person leaves you abruptly or starts shouting at you). If you happen to talk to a group of people, give them all a short duration of eye contact only to keep them all attentive and make sure they listen to you.
Remember, maintaining continuous eye contact even with your subordinate will chase them away.
In case, if you find it uneasy to main eye contact with your team members, keep trying. I am sure, you will get familiar with the environment and start eye contact soon. Not maintaining eye contact will reveal your 'uneasiness' facing other people directly and this will send out a wrong signal to all your team members.
One of the easiest ways to lighten up your conversation with your colleague or with your subordinate or customers is 'keeping a smile on your face'. You might have been 'manufactured' (no offence taken!) with a serious face, but try to smile at least occasionally. You are going to make a world of difference! Who knows, yours is the only smile the other person might have seen for the entire day. Lighten up his/her days with your smile.
When the other person says something funny, please smile with him/her. Keep in mind, people feel at home to relate with a person who is positive and encourages others.
However when it comes to your own jokes, never ever be the first person to laugh. You only make yourself a 'movie comedian' in your group. You must join others laughing at your jokes. Your laughing should be a complementary to other's laugh.
Never laugh for anything and everything; and never wear a ready-made smile. You only look artificial and people find it very bizarre to have you with them.
And never look down as you are talking to a person. This tells the other that you are insecure and feel out of place. Keep always your head and chest straight. If you are a woman, keep your body straight and your head high. You may feel awkward in the beginning to keep your body straight, but it will surely give you a lot of confidence and you will never feel down or subordinate to any.
Use your hands often (but not too often) as you speak. Let your hand gestures be strictly related to your talking. You know, with correct use of your hands, you can control the other or even the entire group from getting distracted. But remember, if you overuse your hands, you are becoming the source of distractions. Let your hands and words go hand in hand.
Above all, keep a positive and relaxed posture when you are in a group and that too, if you happen to be the team leader. How you look and how maintain your body language is going to make a whole lot of difference in the group. If have any 'funny' gesture, sooner the better, you change it; otherwise, people are going to make fun of you in your absence.
Keep smiling, it costs nothing
The primary purpose of communication is , as you are aware, to get your message across to others clearly and unambiguously. This involves sincere attempts from the sender and also receivers. It is very imperative that your message is not misinterpreted by the recipient. Communication does not include just saying and listening to. This also involves taking adequate measures that your message is not misinterpreted which results missing opportunities, breaking relationships, and landing you in the wrong book of your boss. When your communication is not understood in the same way you intended to be, it can become roadblocks that become a hindrance to your professional as well as personal growth. You should also understand that lack communication and the inability to communicate effectively, which is the case of many of us today, can cause frustration, resentment, disappointments, anger and misunderstanding.
Oral and Written Communication
There are many ways of communicating our ideas to the others. One of the two ways of communicating with others are oral and written communication. There is no profession on earth that does not need or facilitate communication between the team members. If you are going to sit all alone doing some scientific experiments spending all of your time with your tools and chemicals leaving just a little time to interact with people around, you probably don't need the wonderful skill of communication (Even otherwise, you need to develop communication skills, because this help you build your relationship with your family). I am sure your profession is not in scientific field and you are very much in need of oral communication and written communication for sustaining your job. Remember, interviewers look for better oral and written communication skills from the job applicants. Spoken and written skills remain vital skills in any profession today. You need to be professional in communicating effectively to your customers. The style of communication and choices of words do differ depending on the target audience. You need to understand the IQ level of the audience and accordingly, you have to select the vocabularies and modulate the tone of your speech. Always remember, it is your target audience that are going to determine the kind of communication style you need to adopt to prove yourself effective. In many cases, oral or verbal communication supersedes written communications, unless your profession demands written works like documenting, data entry and etc.
Communication skills remain the backbone of sustenance of industries especially those dealing with customers and those who involve team working. Let your communication be brief,accurate and clear. Don't expect people to look for the meanings of your vocabularies. If you use show off your communication with unnecessary vocabularies, others will get confused and bewildered. Make your conversation filled with simple words, preferably with short sentences. The idea of your conversation is to make the other understand what exactly you are telling him and much more than that, know what the other person wants to know from you. If a team member comes to you asking for a direction or tips to proceed with his current project, don't talk to him about his/her future assignment you are intended to give and waste your time and the other. Be straight and be brief in your conversation. Whether your conversation with your team member or customers is lively or boring depends on the kind of vocabularies you use and the tone of your voice.
Since communication skills remain one of the important skills in industries dealing with customers. Communication takes place right from the low level employee to top level leaders. However the important aspect of the communication skill is such that it enhances product efficiency and builds the team. Having good communication skills is necessarily important in every walk of life. To build your professional relationship or career or even at your home, communication skills is an important aspect of life. It is your communication skills that is going to create a better impression of yourself when you present yourself for a job interview. Having sensible communication skills will make you stand out in a crowd, help you build a better and cordial relationship with your colleague and more importantly with your family. It is therefore necessarily important and demanding to have developed the right kind of communication for a successful career in your life.
People show interests to spend time listening to 'jokers' as well!Just because people are enthusiastic to spend time with you or like to listen to your words does not mean that you have professionally required communication skills. People show interests to spend time listening to 'jokers' as well!
Learn to communicate completely and in full understanding of your own ideas. Be clear what you want to tell and who is your audience or the person with whom you are talking to. These are very important factors in any conversation and this will help you to choose the vocabularies that will perfectly fit into your ideas. Maybe the following will help you to build good and effective communication skills for you.
Never speak 'telegraphic language'
Brevity is the art of communication that does not mean only 'hints'
Be straight to the point and be clear in your expression and equally important is make sure the other person has understood what you are telling him/her.
We all have the experience of talking or communicating with other fellow human beings or any creature that is capable of understanding either oral or sign languages. Therefore conveying a message or idea to the other is not something new to any of us. The question is whether you are able to communicate such a way that the other person understands what is in your mind and what you are trying to convey to him/her. Though conversing is not new to us, the importance for learning or improving the art of communication has become vital since what we learned at homes as children was not sufficient to build our professional career.
Communication skills is an art that requires substantial amount of time and energy spent on developing this special art. Because it is an art and can be developed by way of attending a few training classes or even by reading a few books, it has nothing much to do with a person's IQ. It is an ongoing process when it comes to developing your communication skills. In order to develop or improve communication skills, I would like to suggest a few possible ways to improve your communication skills. Look for ways to improve your skills, because your professional career graph surely depends on your flawless communication skills that you are going to develop / improve in the right perspective.
Listen as you talk: This is something that many of us tend to forget about and just keep talking whatever comes to our mind. When you listen to yourself as you speak, you have the ability to correct yourself as you speak in case, if you mispronounce a word or misused any technical phrase in the wrong place. It is one of the important skills to help you correct yourself and avoid embarrassments with your friends. In addition to this, cultivate the habit of effective listening to your friends or team leaders. Effective listening means not just understanding the words and the information shared by the other; this also means how the speaker feels about what he/she communicates to you. This calls for identifying yourself with the speaker (whoever he/she maybe; can be your team leader, or your boss or your colleague or someone from your family). When you put yourself in the shoes of the speaker you know what he/she means exactly since words can be interpreted in more than one ways. The speaker should know that he/she is heard and understood. This helps building a stronger connection between you and the speaker. Have the courtesy to clarify your doubts, if you are not sure of any ideas expressed by the speaker, and also promote an atmosphere where everyone involved in the project comes up with ideas and clarifications of the speaker. Effective listening does mean listening effectively - directing your senses to the topic expressed and observing the body language of the speaker so that you understand empathetically.
Think before you speak: If only you take up this aspect seriously in your life, you can avoid most of the conflicts resulting out of your conversations with others. Know what you want to say and decide how you want to present the idea to the other. Be polite and be straight without hurting the ego of the other. Keep in mind, you are the master of your own words as long as they remain unexpressed. You have no control over your spoken words. Please have the prudence to think and speak.
Add humor to your conversation: This does not mean you become a 'joker' so that everyone likes to spend time with you. Most of the time, your profession demands you to have professional and serious tone when you speak with your subordinates or with your boss. In any case, have some anecdotes, jokes that you have read in magazines etc handy so that you can spice up your conversation with anyone. The purpose of adding humour or an anecdote is to make the conversation/ meeting lively.
Be polite in your tone and words: To have a pleasant atmosphere or strained depends on your conversation you are going to have with the other. Even if you happen to talk to your subordinate, keep your language polite, respective and reciprocal. When you keep your tone very polite and cordial, you will build a 'cordial' friendly people around you.
Observe your body language: It is very much imperative to observe yourself with regard to your body language. If possible, do some rehearsal and plan how you want to look when you are going to stand before your team members. The kind of body language posture you wish to have when you stand before the crowd. Most of the time, I have come across people exhibiting something very tasteless. If your posture is something unfriendly, you are going to drive away the, otherwise, prospective customers. Let your body language be friendly and create a sociable atmosphere.
Allow others to express their opinions: I have come across people talking non-stop for a long time. If you happen to be the boss, people will just 'tolerate' you for want of job. Otherwise, you will be left alone having nobody to talk to except the ceiling. Allow others to speak. Encourage others to express their opinions and if they have anything to say about your own thinking, make them feel free and ask for their opinions about your plan of action. This will help you and your team member/ customer to have a better relationship.
Never think whatever you say is correct -be polite: One of the attitudes that put off others from sharing their opinions is having the attitude of 'I am OK; and You are not OK'. Even if you have a long years of experience, it does not guarantee that whatever you say is correct and the impacts are going to be the same as you have predicted. There is nothing wrong in getting the opinions from others. We all are prone to make mistakes and we can't claim that we are correct. Give your team a free hand to think and do the job they are assigned to.
Be positive and read a lot: Cultivate the habit of reading. It is one of the hobbies that does good rather than bad, if at all any. Reading so many books or magazines, you will be enriching yourself with good vocabularies, which will be tremendously helpful to you when you are converse with educated and highly professional people. However, a word of caution here is, never use vocabularies to show off your talent or your ability on the language. The listeners should not feel like consciously ignoring your talk and have decided to look away. Having a list of good vocabularies is to prepare yourself so that you won't feel let down when someone else in your team uses high language and you don't start scratching your head.
Learn from the leading communication experts as they speak to you: This is one of the important and very viable tips that you need to practice, if at all you want to improve your communication skills and that too, if you want to become a public speaker. Watch the videos of those acclaimed speakers and see how they conduct themselves on the stage and observe their body language very keenly so that you become consciously aware of the kind of professional body languages that are acceptable by the public.
Written Communication Skills: Written Communication is the ability to express yourself effectively on writing. It has been recognized as one of the essential skills by all kind of industries or organisations for expansion and sustainability of the business. To succeed in any business, you need to have a highly professional and competitive written skill that 'sells' your ideas and expands the business of the company. If your corresponding skills are effective, you have the edge over your competitors. Since correspondence is mostly between the top orders in the management of any company, and the responsibility of sustaining and expanding your business falls on top managers, the necessity of having a highly professionalized written communication has become a professional demand for the job. Laura Brill states in her book Business Writing Quick and Easy: Letters are the most personal of business communications. They can help build relationship particularly by using a friendly and sincere tone. Formal and stereotyped expressions, on the other hand, keep the relationship between writer and reader significant. Who enjoys reading letters that sound like computer printouts?
Here are a few important aspects to keep in mind to make your written communication effective. Studies have shown that there are three major techniques to distinguish an effective writing from that of an ordinary: a) Selection of words; b) Construction of clear sentences; and c) Writing for Effect.
To improve your written communication skill, you can read 'Written Communication Skills' by Buddy D.Ratner. He shares the following tips to keep in mind when you write business writing.
Wordiness ('loose, baggy sentences')
Weak verbs/ ponderous nouns/ strings of prepositional phrases
Tone / meaning
Good Writers, and
(Courtesy: Buddy D.Ratner)
Read, read, and re-read your typing/writing for as many time as possible and if time permits, come back after a few days and read again the same passage you have written. You will find many sentences need revising. What is not possible in business writing, especially if it is an email, you can't ask someone to proofread it for you. The best possible way is ask your assistant to formulate the letter/ email and you can proofread it. This way, you can produce a quality email or letter.
Make your writing reader friendly - easy to understand so that the other person responds to your letter/email quickly and to the point. It is highly advisable to use short sentences whether you are writing a short paragraph or the longer ones. Know your audience for whom you are writing this letter/ email. The audience determines your writing style, the choice of words and the tone of the writing.
Choose the format and the style of writing, keeping in mind your audience, before you sit and start writing.
The Recruitment and Employment Commission (REC), UK says that around half of the CVs received by recruitment consultants contain spelling and grammat