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Are your ‘soft’ business skills up-to-date?

Nowadays it’s hard to imagine there was ever a time when in order to succeed in the workplace you either got an education or years of experience on the job (or both if you were lucky). Today however an education alone isn't enough and neither is years of experience on the job.

Today the most in demand business skills desired by employers are a group of subtle, intangible but vital traits and behaviours. They allow and empower you to work and interact with colleagues and clients in an effective and rewarding way and the really good news is that you may already possess these highly in-demand ‘soft skills’ and not even be aware.

So, what are ‘soft skills’?

Soft skills are usually self-developed and aren’t learnt on the job or in education. They are personal and are hard to define and measure. Put simply they are the people skills that you can transfer to any role or industry and should be included in any job application to make you stand out.

So, which ‘soft skills’ are most in demand?

  • Communication skills - great communication is often associated with excellent presentation and written skills. Yes, these are important, however what can make you really stand out from the crowd is the ability to communicate information in a manner that makes it easy for others to understand. For example, if you are able to communicate technical information in a manner that non-technical people can understand, you are on to a winner.
  • Listening skills - there are many people who believe themselves excellent communicators but they fail to consider if they are active listeners. Great listeners are not thinking about what they want to say next; to them it is more important to make it about the other person. Active listening is about paying attention to the other person and is one of the easiest ways you can build trust and raptor with others.
  • Creative thinking - most people can find a solution to a problem if they have unlimited resources, however having the skill of creative thinking is about problem solving, finding solutions and being innovative with limited resources and constraints.
  • Taking accountability - it is surprising how many people can’t (or won’t) take full accountability when something goes wrong. Excuses fly and there are even those who try, or indeed totally ignore it. Taking accountability means that you never blame others. You take the blame for your role but also never assume your job is done even when tasks are passed on to others. The integrity you demonstrate when you practice accountability and do what you say you will is very powerful.
  • Emotional awareness - it can be very hard to keep emotions out of the workplace. The truth is we are all going to have good and bad days and these can impact on the decisions we make. Emotional awareness doesn’t make you immune to these emotions but allows you to take a moment and question your actions, ultimately preventing yourself from making questionable and irreversible decisions.
  • Being empathetic - being able to see the viewpoints of others and different perspectives is an invaluable skill in business. Empathy allows you to relate and connect to people and work well when there is conflict. Ultimately people want to work with people they feel ‘get them’ and who they can feel at ease with.

Bearing all of this in mind, why not make it a 2018 new year resolution to start using your ‘soft skills’ to your advantage and let them help boost your career?

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