Soft skills are just as important as hard skills.
Here’s how you can put key soft skills to work in massively boosting your career.
Learn to master these interpersonal talents and your career success will skyrocket!
I call them the seven Cs.
1) Clear communication
First up is clear communication.
It’s hard to get far in your career without this soft skill, but a surprising number of people do try to get by on their skills, knowledge or power.
The fact of the matter is that eventually your communication style and efficacy is going to matter immensely.
Especially as you are promoted or gain more responsibility in your job, you’re going to need to be able to explain yourself clearly, give others instructions and delegate clearly.
There are many ways to improve your spoken communication skills.
I find this guide from career strategist and coach Linda Raynier very helpful as she also gets into the importance of active listening and being attentive in your conversations.
2) Curt emails
On a related note is the importance of your written communication skills, specifically emails and texts.
There is a happy balance to be found here:
Giving employees, clients, prospective employers and coworkers the right amount of information but not too much or too little.
In general, less is more.
Instead of writing a wall of text or a number of high-detail paragraphs, try to summarize the key things you want to say and express them as directly as possible.
I can tell you how we all react to large walls of text related to work: we sigh.
At the same time…
Try to avoid excessive abbreviations or overly informal texts and emails as these can cause confusion.
“Lol k bruh, s’all gud on that1 – the sales are thru the roof no cap dude..but I’m tryna ask abt the other thing n let u kno, k?” is the type of text or email you want to strongly avoid.
Even if one of your colleagues or clients understands this it’s good to get in the habit of writing a bit more formally as a standard for communicating with a wide variety of people you will come across in your career.
3) Collegial supportiveness
There’s really no substitute for supporting those you work with.
This is a soft skill that anybody can learn.
Whether or not you’re extroverted or a very friendly person, you can consciously develop and improve the way you treat your work colleagues.
Something as simple as a well placed compliment, bright smile or small favor can cheer up a colleague enormously and help them have a much better day.
There’s no guarantee you’re going to like those you work with or come across in your career, but it’s imperative that you try to develop this soft skill of being supportive and collegial.
There may be times when the office or place you work becomes competitive or erupt in conflict.
But you will always be more respected and popular wherever you go in your career if you praise and support those you work with.
4) Creative collaboration
In addition to being a supportive team member, the next soft skill to really double down on is creative collaboration.
This has a lot to do with what kind of career you’re in, of course.
But even seemingly straightforward industries like construction or plumbing have room for creative collaboration.
Have you seen some of the deck designs that are out there?
What about faucet styles?
I could get lost in the catalogs for hours.
Maybe it’s time to look into getting a new supplier and collaborating on new visions.
If you’re a tattoo artist maybe you want to partner up with a piercer who has a bold and unique vision of piercing that aligns or diverges from your tattoo art in intriguing and attractive ways!
Creative collaboration and working to expand the boundaries of your work ideas will serve you very well in your career.
5) Collective vision
If you’re on a team of any kind then having a collective vision is crucial.
This is often the impetus behind a mission statement or a list of core values in a company or organization.
It’s all about being clear on the main purpose and values of a company.
In some cases this will be very related to what you do.
For example, if you are in charge of a cutlery company then your vision may be to sell the highest quality cutlery at the best price, or it may be to prioritize a certain historical style or modern type of cutlery while raising the price point somewhat.
In other cases your mission statement and collective vision is something you will have to develop consciously and in conjunction with your colleagues.
If you work alone then this soft skill will be a little different, but still highly important in its own way.
6) Conflict resolution
Conflict resolution is a crucial soft skill that will take you far in your career.
Without it, big problems quickly arise.
The key to conflict resolution is active listening and respect.
There aren’t always two sides:
Sometimes one side is more correct than the other. Sometimes there are four sides or eight.
Sometimes there’s just pure confusion and frustration!
The best book I’ve found on how to non-violently address and resolve problems (at work and in your personal life) is Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by the highly-esteemed late psychologist Marshall B. Rosenberg.
Rosenberg outlines how to escape many of the common traps of conflict and how to build a productive and worthwhile dialog toward reaching actual results and solutions to tough, emotionally-charged situations.
Conflicts aren’t always easy to solve by any means, but having more tools in your toolbox is a soft skill that will put you miles ahead of somebody who’s unprepared to deal with disagreements and tensions at work.
7) Capitalizing on failure
Sooner or later we’ll all face failure and disappointment at work.
It could be a demotion or getting fired; it could be getting bullied by a colleague or a boss.
Failure might come in the form of a project we’re passionate about failing to launch, or even having everything come together for a work dream … except the funding falling through at the last minute!
There is so much that’s outside of your control when it comes to your career and all too often failure is one of those experiences we don’t choose but that chases us around anyway.
Learning to capitalize on failure is the key soft skill here.
What this means in practical terms is the following:
- Plan a relaunch or try again after adjusting strategies
- Resolve or address interpersonal conflicts
- Take lessons from failure and adjust approach
- Learn when to quit and try something different
- Let failure toughen and fortify you for the challenges ahead
- Learn not to take failure personally and to see it as a kind of emotional weight training
Sailing the seven Cs
The above soft skills will get you far in your career.
I know because I’ve used them in my own career and made immense progress.
The key is to consistently improve and be conscious of these soft skills and be self-aware of how you are using them to your advantage.
The more that you tap into these soft skills the more you will become respected, admired and successful in your chosen career!