One of the strongest vehicles of communication is ironically not what you say, rather than how you say it.
Soft Skills. It’s an attribute that is becoming more appreciated in this digital age where people tend to be less personable with the assistance of social media, emails, and even Skype. As more people and even businesses are becoming comfortable conducting business this way, it can be said that the personable way we communicate is slowly falling by the wayside. These Soft Skills, the thing that arguably separates humans from Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and other artificial intelligence is something that employers are finding more valuable these days.
What Exactly are Soft Skills?
Soft Skills are personal attributes that make you, you! They are part of your personality. It’s about the way you speak, how you carry yourself, and again—what you don’t say, how you communicate using your own body language. This can be said to be the universal way of communicating. Two people from different parts of the country may not be able to understand what one another is saying, but may be able to find a common ground through gestures, and a warm smile. If done appropriately, communication can go rather well. If done inappropriately, someone might take offense and all lines of communication are cut short.
The same applies when you’re able to speak with someone who shares the same language and cultural background as yourself.
If your professor asks you how you’re doing, you may respond with a smile and say, “Fine, thank you for asking.” However, if you respond with a frown and respond with the same words, you will be sending a mixed message that could create an uncomfortable situation.
Acquiring and mastering Soft Skills is critical to ensuring that your message comes across in a professional and positive way.
How Do You Acquire Soft Skills?
Soft Skills is the complete opposite of Hard Skills, a skillset that is a taught in a specific field that’s measured and defined, ultimately giving you the knowledge to operate software and/or hard machinery. Soft Skills is that which you cannot see—a talent that cannot be quantified and deals more with a person’s actions rather than the tangible skills of writing, typing, and managing people and/or software programs.
Soft Skills is something you learn over time. Like Hard Skills, they can be taught. However, Soft Skills requires a bit of finesse. The end result of Soft Skills is being able to get along with others, and if you’re lucky, have them actually like you—not always an easy goal for everyone to achieve!
The workplace in general will usually be a fairly diverse group of people coming from different backgrounds and cultures. In terms of Soft Skills, what can be pleasant to some can be offensive to others. Being able to manage those Soft Skills universally in a positive way is harder than you may think and it’s something that employers are willing to pay for. More often than not, Soft Skills can be the deciding factor for hiring applicants who may share the same Hard Skills on their resume.
Soft Skills are Critical for Interviews
Not many universities will tell you this, because when preparing for the workforce, a great amount of time is focused on developing your Hard Skills. Your senior year in college is all about preparing your resume, compiling a decorative bullet-point list of all of the Hard Skills that you’ve learned during your academic career. This is critical—after all, it’s what you’ve gone to college for. However, what’s equally as important are the Soft Skills—skills that can be the deciding factor at an interview.
At Florida National University, we encourage all of our students to take advantage of the resources we have to offer not only for their personal growth, but also to diversify their resume. We are a regionally accredited university offering stellar top-of-the line academic associate, bachelor, and master’s programs.
While the type of university you attend may also weigh in on the final decision of hiring companies, it’s ultimately going to be what kind of Soft Skills you have to present. Remember, you will have an entire class of fellow graduates going after the same type of job as you. Think of what might make you stand out from all of the other applicants.
Why Soft Skills are So Important?
In this age where almost every business is connected to digital technology, having some sort of technical expertise is becoming the norm. While Soft Skills are considered an intangible skillset, Forbes magazine has listed 3 tangible ways to improve your Soft Skills:
- Through Critical Thinking and Communication – Read more, debate, discuss, and even record yourself. Listening to how you communicate will give you a better understanding of how your message may come across to others. Simple instructions, but most effective.
- Through Curiosity and Creativity – Assign yourself lessons and treat them as if they were an academic assignment. You can also write a short story. It can be fictional or nonfictional. There are many publications that accept these kinds of writings. Also, doing absolutely nothing has done wonders for creatives. It leaves room to come up with ideas!
- Practice Responsibility and Conflict Management – You don’t have to have the title of CEO to manage. There’s always something to manage. Write down what your responsibilities and goals are. This is a sign that you are acknowledging and owning your responsibilities. Also, don’t be afraid to fail. Own it. Share it with a trusted co-worker. Last but never least is just to listen. You may be able to resolve many conflicts if you simply listen to what the problem is.
If you want to learn more about Soft Skills and how you can improve yours, enroll in an FNU academic program today. It doesn’t matter if you already have a college degree. Our university also has certificate programs that will help you become a more personable professional.
Contact an FNU advisor today!