An Argument for Soft Skills
In the professional realm, there seems to be a constant struggle between the hard skills you need to perform the tasks that govern your career choice and the soft skills that are needed to develop relationships and effectively communicate with those around you. Often, it’s the hard skills we focus on and the soft skills we let lapse. If you can do the tasks of a job, you must be set, right? Well, not entirely.
It is my firm belief that we need to put more time into developing soft skills. The argument is often made that things won’t get done if workers don’t possess the necessary hard skills. While this is certainly true, I have often observed that not much gets accomplished when workers lack soft skills, as well.
Have you ever had to call a company for any issue, only to reach representatives who sound like they would rather walk on hot coals than be talking to you? You might find that this lack of soft skills makes it difficult to resolve your issue and you wouldn't be alone. The sheer absence of effective communication skills and lack of empathy for others is something we are sorely missing in the world of today.
Let’s recount a recent workplace issue. We all go in for a meeting.
Team Lead: “Okay, let’s get an update of where we stand on this project. Let’s
go around and hear a status report from each person.” Worker #1: “I recently finished the setup and we just need equipment to come in.” Worker #2: “I heard from the equipment company and I have arranged the
schedule so that the equipment will arrive in plenty of time for project completion.” Worker #3: (While staring at phone) “…No one’s ever around when I need them.
I can’t get anything done like this.” Worker #1: “I don’t have much going on for the next three days. Is there some way
I can help?” Worker #3: “I’m busy, you know. I have more going on than just this project.”
Can you identify the one who needs work on soft skills?
Now, I am not making any assumptions about what that person's day was like or what individual issues were making an impact that day. There are always external factors that influence how we behave. However, this behavior was not an anomaly in this particular case. It was typical behavior and it led to problems getting things done, much as a lack of hard skills might.
If you’ve ever had the Debbie Downer in your office or you are constantly interacting with those around you that always seem to be having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, then you know what I’m talking about. Remember, the ability to constructively and positively communicate with others is an important trait to develop. These soft skills will increase productivity and will improve your workplace atmosphere, all things that help develop a positive environment.
While you need the hard skills to prove you can do the job, you need soft skills to foster a productive work environment—not just for you, but for those around you.
Ashley works in the mystical world of digital marketing. A true lover of the written word, she whiles away her time writing, editing, reading, and helping small businesses with their marketing needs. Believing herself to be a seeker of discomfort, she is always on the lookout for her next adventure. Check her out at contenthusiast.com.
Mandi's Two Cents: Oh how I love this post! I used to work with toxic coworkers ... and boy was it a mess. So many good employees often left due to these people who just didn't look at their environment as a "team atmosphere" or used soft skills to make things go smoothly. I got farther with a good attitude and willingness to help and learn rather than be a stick in the mud and think I was a know-it-all. Hard skills can be taught ... soft skills are harder for people to learn and adapt to. It can be done but if those who don't have soft skills don't learn how to delicately add to their situation in a positive manner, both personally and professionally, at some point I think it will catch up to them. Put out some positive in the world and watch it come right back to you!