Developing communication skills can help many aspects of your life, from your professional career, to social gatherings, to your family life.
In today's hectic world, we rely heavily on sharing information, resulting in greater emphasis being placed on having good communication skills. Good verbal and written communication skills are essential in order to deliver and understand information quickly and accurately. Being able to communicate effectively is a vital life skill and should not be overlooked.
In contrast, poor communication skills can have a negative impact - a poorly delivered message may result in misunderstanding, frustration and in some cases disaster.
Communication can be defined as the process of understanding and sharing meaning. To communicate well is to understand, and be understood. This can be achieved in the following ways:
Soft skills are a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, character or personality traits, attitudes, career attributes, social intelligence and emotional intelligence quotients, among others, that enable people to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills.
Soft skills are a combination of multiple skills. It includes:
Why do Soft Skills Matter?
Soft skills are the difference between adequate candidates and ideal candidates. In most competitive job markets, recruitment criteria do not stop at technical ability and specialist knowledge.
Particularly with graduate schemes, recruiters will be looking for people who can become leaders, and leadership, itself, depends on several key soft skills.
Soft skills are not just important when facing external customers and clients. They are equally important when it comes to interacting with colleagues.
Soft skills relate to how you work with others (whereas hard skills relate to you, in isolation, as an individual).
This section is an extensive, but not exhaustive, guide to what should be considered as some of the key soft skills.
As a soft skill, communication is not about multiple syllables or rousing speeches. Able communicators can adjust their tone and style according to their audience, comprehend and act efficiently on instructions, and explain complex issues to colleagues and clients alike.
Communication is also an important aspect of leadership, since leaders must be able to delegate clearly and comprehensibly.
Having the positive attitude and the initiative to work well without round-the-clock supervision is a vital soft skill for any employee.
Not only does it demonstrate reliability and commitment, but it shows that you can fit efficiently into an organisational structure without the need for constant oversight.
Leadership is a soft skill you can show even if you're not directly managing others.
Leadership can be thought of as a collection of various other soft skills, such as a general positive attitude and outlook, the ability to communicate effectively, and an aptitude for both self-motivating and motivating others.
Self-awareness is a seldom talked about but highly valued soft skill; knowing when to accept responsibility for any mistakes you have made demonstrates a healthy level of humility, and a willingness to learn and progress.
Like leadership, good teamwork involves a combination of other soft skills.
Working in a team towards a common goal requires the intuition and interpersonal acumen to know when to be a leader, and when to be a listener.
Good team players are perceptive, as well as receptive to the needs and responsibilities of others.
Problem solving does not just require analytical, creative and critical skills, but a particular mindset: those who can approach a problem with a cool and level head will often reach a solution more efficiently than those who cannot.
This is a soft skill which can often rely on strong teamwork too. Problems need not always be solved alone.
The ability to know who can help you reach a solution, and how they can do it, can be a great advantage.
Knowing the distinction between decisiveness and recklessness implies a soft skill in itself.
Decisiveness combines a number of different abilities: the ability to put things into perspective, to weigh up the options, to assess all relevant information and, crucially, to anticipate the consequences, good and bad.
Ability to Work Under Pressure and Time Management
Many jobs come with demanding deadlines and occasionally high stakes. Recruiters prize candidates who show a decisive attitude, an unfaltering ability to think clearly, and a capacity to compartmentalise and set stress aside.
Time management is closely related to the ability to work under pressure, as well as within tight deadlines. Employees who manage their time well are able to efficiently prioritize tasks and organise their diaries, while adopting an attitude which allows them to take on new tasks and deadlines.
Naturally, people can be wary of leaving the comfort zone formed by their repertoire of hard skills. Flexibility is an important soft skill, inasmuch as it demonstrates an ability and willingness to acquire new hard skills, and an open-mindedness to new tasks and new challenges.
Employers often seek candidates who can show a willing and upbeat attitude, since many jobs come with the possibility of secondments.
Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
This is another of those soft skills which employers look for in potential leaders.
To be an adept negotiator is to know how to be persuasive and exert influence, while sensitively seeking a solution which will benefit all parties.
Similarly, conflict resolution depends on strong interpersonal skills and the ability to establish a rapport with colleagues and clients alike.
The game of facts and figures:
Mention the names of projects you have been a part of. Highlight if you have undertaken any leadership roles. Once these are mentioned in your resume, the interviewer is bound to ask you questions about the roles you played in those projects.
Demonstrating conflict resolution abilities:
Tell your interviewer about conflicts you have handled and how you handled them. Although, it can be tricky to make the interviewer ask you those set of questions that give you chance to boast about your abilities. Bringing the topic up in a brief statement in your answers can help ring a bell in their heads to ask you a question on that!
The science behind confidence:
It's okay to be nervous as long as it is positive. Nervousness increases blood flow to your brain and, makes you more alert. The trick lies in making the nervousness impact you positively. Believe in your past achievements and, remember how hard you have worked. They don't know that you're nervous.
Mind your body language at all times:
Some interviews can last really long. Remember to sit straight at all times. Support your back properly so that you don't get tired. Don't shake your legs. Sometimes, you end up shaking your legs unknowingly. To avoid that from happening, cross your feet (not legs) and place them under the chair. Too much hand movement can be annoying. Maintain eye contact. Smile the right amount.