Let us take a look at a situation you have been in many times, one of going to your local doctor. You may have been to several doctors over the years and have finally settled on one that you can relate to. A doctor, that when you leave the surgery, you don’t think ‘oh the bedside manner was terrible’.
It is this notion that goes someway to explaining what soft skills are. The doctor may have an exceptional technical knowledge of his job, however that is only half the skill needed. Building an interpersonal relationship is the other half, making the patient feel at ease, included and informed.
If we now transfer this knowledge to the workplace we can see soft skills promote and foster a cohesive work environment. The actions of listening, problem solving, engaging, presenting and resolving conflict all come down to building and maintaining relationships with people. (Mindtools.com, 2016)
Soft skills include such notions as integrity, communication, courtesy, responsibility, social skills, positive attitude, professionalism, flexibility, teamwork, and work ethic (Robles, 2012). Soft skills are equally as important as hard or technical skills in the overall shape of a business. Interactions with customers, colleagues, clients, supervisors and other stake holders are impacted by what soft skills an individual brings to these situations. (Mindtools.com, 2016)
It is your technical knowledge that will initially get your foot in the door, it is your soft skills that will open many doors along your career journey. Your communication skills, your work ethic, your attitude, your emotional intelligence and a range of other personal attributes are the soft skills that have become so important in business today.
Strength in relationships born from positive attitudes is what promotes great team performance, and leads people to contribute strongly to the organisation’s strategy and vision. Each is an element that is essential for personal and organisational success.
Cenere, P. (2015). Communication skills for business professionals. Port Melbourne, Vic.: Cambridge University Press.
Mindtools.com. (2016). Why Soft Skills Matter: Making Sure Your Hard Skills Shine. [online] Available at: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCDV_34.htm [Accessed 7 May 2016].
Robles, M. (2012). Executive Perceptions of the Top 10 Soft Skills Needed in Today’s Workplace. Business Communication Quarterly, 75(4), pp.453-465.
Figure 1: Google Images