Soft skills have gained significance in the last couple of decades as a key element to professional success. During the Industrial Revolution, people were just another resource who had to operate machinery. They needed only skills required to operate the machinery in a repetitive manner only. Since there was minimal or no interpersonal interaction, there was no need to develop soft skills of people.

However, as the workplace became more human centric, more and more jobs needed an element of effective interpersonal interaction, this gave rise to developing people or soft skills among employees. Soft skills training are a combination of people skills, social skills, personal attitude, communication skills and personality traits that help in achieving individual goals and working effectively with others.

The complex structure of organizations today with people spread across the globe, working in diverse teams that many a times only connect virtually has made Soft Skills even more critical today. Most repetitive tasks in industries have become automated, therefore the major role of humans in the workplace is effective interpersonal interaction. Unfortunately, even today, the recruitment process largely focuses on technical skills of prospective hires. People skills still do not receive that importance. Research and experience show us that while people are able to get jobs for hard skills, companies fire them for behavior or soft skills.

So, here are the top 4 soft skills that are needed for professional success today:

  • Communication Skills – Communication skills. However, this still remains an area of improvement for a large workforce. Communication skills are at the core of interpersonal effectiveness. In addition, communication skills training should not focus only on language proficiency. This is because communicating effectively is much more than fluency is a language. Communication skills involves the ability to build rapport, and understand cross-cultural nuances of communication. Non-verbal communication, ability to build trust and using technology for effective communication are a part too.
  • Interpersonal Skills – Another key soft skill needed for success in any role is interpersonal effectiveness. This involves the ability to interact effectively with other people. Communication skills are a part of interpersonal effectiveness, however behavioral skills are important as well. Interpersonal skills training should focus on the ability of employees to recognize their own and other people’s behavior patterns. This is helpful in modifying behavior in a way to be effective with others. Teamwork is another key element of interpersonal skills; the focus here should be on building empathy towards others so that one can work effectively with all team members.

The above 2 skills are very common, but today there are 2 more unique skills that contribute significantly to professional success:

  • Emotional Intelligence – High stress environments in the workplace have led to Emotional Intelligence becoming a key aspect of professional success. How many times do we deal with irate people around us, losing temper during meetings or using harsh language for giving feedback? Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage not only one’s own emotions but those of others as well. Training employees on emotional intelligence has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years. This is because it contributes significantly towards creating a healthy work environment.
  • Workplace Inclusion – With growing focus on Diversity & Inclusion, this has also become a critical soft skill to have. All employees today need to understand the meaning and importance of Diversity. But more importantly they need to be trained on understanding inclusion and how to create an inclusive workplace with your actions. Every employee in the organization should be aware of how to be inclusive. Additionally, they should know what behaviors need to be avoided to avoid exclusion of people. Training on Diversity & Inclusion is the way to build this skill.

While there are numerous other soft skills that are needed for success, the ones mentioned here are the most critical. Hard skills are easy to learn and acquire. However, it is the soft skills that take a lot of effort in developing. A well thought learning intervention that is more than a day-long training event is important to sustain development of these soft skills.

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Contact us if you are interested in soft skill related training program that is tailored to the needs of your organization or team.