Human beings have different aspects to their life. Most aspects that are physical in nature are visible to naked eyes. Walking style of people, talking mannerisms and many more things that are related to body language, fall in the physical category. Human aspects that are more mental in nature remain invisible most of the times. This invisibility of the mental attributes tends to be so based on the intimacy levels we share with the concerned. For instance, we understand the likes and dislikes of our close ones because the relationship we share with them is full of warmth and love. In sharp contrast we get startled even with the minutest reactions of people who are not in our close circle. Understanding human beings around us both from a physical and mental angle makes us a master in men and matters of judgment.
Men and matters of judgment is an absolute necessity to survive in this highly competitive world. Be it one’s personal life or the official one, handling people according to their personality type helps handle situations in a perfect manner. Personality types are of many kinds. Personality type differs between one human and the other. Understanding personality types requires huge effort which is complemented by what are called soft skills. So what are soft skills exactly? How many of them are there in total? How exactly do they contribute to our life? Which are the situations, the value provided by them add to? Let us have a detailed look in to the many aspects of soft skills which actually complement all efforts we make to live a quality life.
What is soft skill?
A clear understanding of hard skills will make people understand what exactly soft skills mean. In a typical office scenario, operating a computer or machinery is a hard skill. Pushing or pulling a lever in the defined manner is a hard skill. Operating a motor as per the instructions in the Operation manual is a hard skill. Connecting the network cables between the individual computer nodes and the server as per the guidance provided in the Network Connection Manual is a hard skill. To put it in a nutshell, any task done following a set of rules in a mundane manner is termed as hard skill.
Let us now see what soft skill is all about. When a Network Engineer tries to connect a set of computers to the server, from a remote location, he may require the help of many others to complete the task successfully. Everyone involved in the task need to be working in the same wave length in a timely manner. While the task they are trying to perform as per the Network Connection Manual is hard skill, the way they interact with each other as a team substantiates their soft skill abilities. The team work involved in the activity is a soft skill. The Time Management involved in the end to end connection process is a soft skill. The stress they avoid by establishing the connection on time is the soft skill called Stress Management. The verbal and written interactions that happen between them in a cogent manner throughout the process display their Communication abilities.
Hope it is now clear as to what soft skills are in a typical office scenario. Understanding about the different types of soft skills will throw more clarity on the importance of the same in varying real life situations.
The field of psychology has identified approximately 60 plus soft skills which are absolute necessities to lead a successful life. Proficiency in soft skills helps tackle ticklish personal life situations or a serious formal environment in an easy manner. Let us have a look at a short list of soft skills so further reading about the same gets easy. This short list contains some of the crucial soft skills that are required to pull on with life on a day to day basis.
- Communication skills
- Creative Thinking
- Negotiation Skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Problem Solving
- Positive Thinking
The above list of soft skills is just the tip of the iceberg. Though short, one may realize the importance of the above skills in handling their day to day life in a peaceful manner.
Why soft skills are important?
Every moment of our life is based on Soft Skills. When we buy vegetables or fruits, we involuntarily exhibit our negotiation skills. Every professional who has successfully cleared his job interview does so through his effective communication skills. Womenfolk in every household exhibit their Time Management skills when they bade bye to their spouse and children ‘on time’ every morning. Every Employee who finishes his work despite the pressure experienced from his Boss displays his Stress Management skills. Right from Mr Narayanamoorthy who is the founder of IT giant Infosys to Bill Gates whose software applications rules the rooster, every successful business man exhibits Leadership Skills. Every parent who takes prudent decisions pertaining to their children exhibit their capability to be assertive and their expertise in Decision Making.
A detailed study of the complete list of Soft skills will make one understand how they are intertwined with human life. To summarize, soft skills are the inevitable and involuntary part of human life.
How to improve your soft skills to perform well in any conversations?
Our life is full of conversations. Irrespective of whether we are an introvert or an extrovert, we are made to converse with others for one reason or another. Conversations become effective when we possess good communication skills. When it comes to communication skills, it can be divided into 3 types namely Oral, Written and Body Language. As the terms point out, oral is what we talk, written is what we express in writing and Body Language is out of these two forms. Bodily cues exhibit more than what we orally speak. This makes it inevitable to learn Body Language through observing successful personalities and as a part of our day to day interactions with people around us.
Many smaller skills contribute to performing well in conversations. Some such skills which adds value to our communications skills are enlisted below for clear understanding.
- Speak with clarity so your communication is understood clearly.
- Ensure eye contact while indulging in conversations.
- Keep a tag on your Body Language at all points of time during the conversations.
- Practice speaking in front of the mirror before directly entering the conversation arena.
- Improve your listening skills since they contribute to your conversation skills in a huge manner.
- Constantly strive to improve your vocabulary.
- Be confident but not arrogant during conversations.
- Be open minded so you not only contribute to the conversation but also learn from the same.
Remember, Warren Buffet, who acts as the inspiration for many young generation entrepreneurs, had to work on his Public Speaking skills in a conscious manner. He overcame his fear of speaking in public through constant practice to become one of the mind boggling negotiating investor of the world today.
How will this be useful to you in the long run?
We have come across many professionals who are hardcore techies. Many a times, we have even admired the astounding technical knowledge they exhibit in crisis situations. Despite the passion for technology and high levels of technical knowledge possessed, we see many techies stagnating in their career for years together. The only reason for this stagnation clearly is the absence of soft skills in them. When a techie exhibits strong communication skills, he can reach the top position in his team. When he exhibits high levels of confidence and customer handling skills, he can be shown a greater career path in terms of handling customers. When a techie exhibits Leadership skills, he can get injected in the Top Management team and represent the organization from a technical point of view in all business deals.
Let us now look at the value addition that soft skills provide to one’s personal life. Personal life of people involves subtle nuances which contribute to the peaceful co-existence of different kinds of relationships. When a woman has admirable levels of soft skills, she helps her household remain calm and peaceful through her Time Management skills. When a man exhibits admirable levels of soft skills in a typical household, he is able to cope up with the pressure he experiences in his professional life. He gets into the habit of striking decent levels of work life balance which contributes to a healthy personal life. Even solving a problem or fight between children at home improves the conflict resolution or problem solving skills of people. Handling emergency personal situations pertaining to finance or medical issues fosters Crisis Management Skills.
Soft skills thus are an integrated part of human lives. They complement all our sincere efforts both in the personal as well as official sphere of activities. This makes it a compulsion for people to master the ABC’s of communication, behavior and attitude in a constant manner. Most people who are successful today have consciously worked on their soft skills abilities. Master the soft skill or set of soft skills you want your life to be based up on and become a coveted personality all through your life.
Written by Rama Ramji edited by SiteMaster