Soft Skills – what are they and why we need/value them

You know what IQ is, right? Well what about EQ?

EQ, or emotional intelligence quotient is all about soft skills. Yes, we need them and yes, employers value them. Soft skills are things like communication, adaptability, teamwork, problem solving, conflict resolution and critical observation.

Put simply, it’s about who you are, as opposed to the technical skills you possess. Employers will look at both, so employees and job seekers need to present both.

Let’s talk about soft skills.

Communication – kind of obvious, but very important. This does not mean you need to be a brilliant writer or an inspiring speaker. It does mean you need to be able to speak and write coherently and correctly. You need to be able to communicate facts and ideas clearly to bosses and co-workers.

Adaptability – not so obvious, but also very important. How do you face obstacles? Roadblocks? How quickly and efficiently can you react to change? This is important for managers and employees alike.

Teamwork – how well do you work in a team situation? Can you step up and lead a team when it’s required? In contrast, can you step aside and let another lead when it’s appropriate?

Problem solving – how do you approach issues? Positively and openly? Or resentfully and critically?

Conflict resolution – again, not so obvious, but a valuable asset, especially in a leader or manager. Can you step into a situation and help resolve it with the least amount of disruption and animosity? This is a valuable skill.

Critical observation – are you situationally aware? Do you observe what’s going on around you and react appropriately? This goes right along with adaptability.

In fact, all these skills complement each other and just make you an all-round better choice for a potential employer.

And, it’s good to note, even if you weren’t born with all these skills, they can be learned. Check out on-line resources, take a leadership class at a local community college, bend the ear of a person in your field who you know and admire. These are all ways to learn and/or improve your soft skills.

Soft skills are valued in every industry, so people with well-developed soft skills will find it easier to jump to another field. Some employers actually value soft skills above hard skills. Soft skills make us more resilient and adaptable and in today’s fast-moving world, adaptability is king.