Today’s employers want to hire people with excellent “soft skills.” Joann Ingulli-Fattic, president of the human resources consulting firm Transcend3HR, defines soft skills as interpersonal relationship skills “that are used in every situation, school course or position in which you interact with people.”
“Technical skills are baseline requirements for a position; what distinguishes a person is their ability to use soft, or transferable, skills in a variety of situations,” she says. She believes these three are key:
Are you easily understood when sharing information, ideas or suggestions?
Are you seen as a person who respects, works well with, and can influence others?
Perseverance with a positive attitude
Are you perceived as someone who gets involved, offers suggestions, helps others and accomplishes things with a positive, enthusiastic attitude?
How do you know if you need to improve? “Throughout life, feedback will come your way,” says Ingulli-Fattic. “The secret is to listen to it and decide if it is appropriate for you. The best way to improve your soft skills is to practice them, continually.”
3 Timely Tips from an HR Pro
- Practice active listening. Ask clarifying questions and paraphrase what the speaker has conveyed; take notes when appropriate; don’t interrupt. Maintain eye contact. Pay attention to body language—both yours and the speaker’s.
- Practice speaking in front of a mirror.
- Practice your writing skills.
- Be genuine and respectful with others.
- Manage conflict in a healthy way.
- Practice displaying a positive attitude in difficult situations and staying calm in moments of crisis.
Perseverance with Enthusiasm
- Discipline yourself to finish tasks in a timely manner.
- Approach each task with a realistic sense of what it will take to accomplish, divide it into steps, then address each step with confidence.
- Show responsibility and enthusiasm for your assignment by striving to do the best and going the extra mile.
- Share your enthusiasm with others…it’s contagious.