Soft skills are frequently talked about in today’s working society, but what are they really? Often difficult to quantify, the term ‘soft’ can make this type of skill set sound unimportant, but that’s far from the truth. They are important for building relationships and creating opportunity, both professionally and personally. Soft skills can be harder to learn, as there is no instruction book. It takes personal development to improve and enhance soft skills.

Soft skills are often intangible, whereas hard skills are the technical abilities that an individual has. However, as the world becomes more digital and automated, it’s the soft skills that set an individual apart in the workplace. Essential for everything from ensuring the smooth running of digital tools, to efficient communication within teams, the presence of soft skills contribute to a productive and happy work environment.

What are the most valuable soft skills?

LinkedIn recently revealed the most in-demand skills in 2019, additionally noting that 57% of leaders say that soft skills are more important than hard skills. Despite the fact that that some people naturally have certain skills over others due to their character, every type of person can take steps to improve their soft skill set. While not everyone is going to be the most creative, the best communicator and the most adaptable, there’s always room to grow.

We look at the most desired soft skills, and how you can develop them:

Creativity

Being creative is hardly measurable. But it allows you to bring something new to the table, to set yourself apart from the competition. Everyone has a creative bone in their body, but it’s how it’s used that’s important.

How can it be developed?

While you can’t be taught how to be creative, you can develop creativity within your world of work. This could start with spending time researching projects or businesses that inspire you, to taking up a hobby that is completely separate to your day job – you never know when that lightbulb moment will strike!

Persuasion

Not everyone has to be a sales expert, but if you want to be able to convince people that your product or service is the best, then the art of persuasion is important.

How can it be developed?

Make the most of networking opportunities, find out how others got to where they are today, how they won over clients and their secrets to success.

Collaboration

Good collaborative skills often mean that you can work well in a team, even if you have a combination of different personalities. Working toward the same goal can encourage harmonious collaboration.

How can it be developed?

Take more time to listen to colleagues ideas, and encourage meetings where needed. This can help to bring you together on both a professional and personal level. Encouraging a team activity outside of the workplace can help develop relationships and change the environment.

Communication

Communication is important both online and offline. From email etiquette, LinkedIn posts to important board meetings. It’s important to have confidence when communicating, but also knowing when to adapt your style of communication based on who you’re working with.

How could you improve?

There’s a whole host of ways you could improve your communication skills. From the big, like public speaking workshops and attending networking events, to the small, like suggesting ideas in meetings.

Adaptability

Things change rapidly in today’s fast paced world. Mention something like Instagram to someone pre 2012 and they would have been confused and asked you to repeat yourself.

Change happens frequently in a growing businesses, and there is a need to adapt to changes in industry and to ensure your company is at the forefront of innovation.

How could you improve?

Inquire about training sessions and conferences in your area of work. They often host the pioneers of an industry, who will talk about cutting edge research in their field. There are some things you can’t always access on online, so it’s important to make an effort an attend in-person. Be a team player by teaching co-workers what you learn, so that the whole company can grow together.

Soft skills can come in all shapes and sizes, and although some may be perceived as more important than others, it all comes down to the individual. It’s important how to identify where your strengths and weaknesses are so you can develop your skill set.

Keep an eye out for future events at Avenue HQ, where you can step outside your comfort zone and develop your skills.

 

Sarah Hetherington

Sarah Hetherington

Marketing Associate at Avenue HQ

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