Soft Skills: What They Are and How to Develop Them

March 28, 2019
Although training is very important in the workplace, how are your soft skills? Are you good at relating to people? Are you a good communicator? These days, having well-developed soft skills can put you ahead of the game in the hiring process.

Soft skills make it possible for a person to relate and communicate with other people in a more or less intelligent way. Consequently, employees with good soft skills are in high demand these days because they help organizations and businesses run smoothly.

Today, many businesses recruit professionals who have developed their soft skills in parallel with their academic studies. Their good communication skills and empathy make them much more interesting candidates for any workplace.

The importance of soft skills in the professional world

These days, most companies are looking for well-rounded employees, not just those with a lot of education or experience. They want people with good social, communication, and teamwork skills. These can be the deciding factors in the hiring process.

Here is where soft skills come in. Well-developed soft skills will give you an edge over the competition and demonstrate during a job interview that you’re the right person for the job.

A man consoling his coworker.

Most-valued soft skills in the workplace

Here are some of the most highly-valued soft skills that employers look for during the hiring process:

  • Autonomy.
  • Leadership.
  • Consistency.
  • Integrity.
  • Attention and listening skills.
  • Self-regulation.
  • Interest.
  • Curiosity.
  • Authenticity.
  • Personal and social responsibility.
  • Ability to reflect.
  • Proactivity.
  • Passion.
  • Intrinsic motivation.
  • Divergent thinking.
  • Humility.
  • Continuing education.
  • Empathy.
  • Synthesis and argumentation skills.
  • Time management.
  • Confidence.

How to develop soft skills

Unconscious incompetence stage

In the first stage, you aren’t aware that soft skills exist nor do you know how you measure up. Although they can affect your work, you aren’t worried about them because you haven’t identified them as important.

Conscious incompetence stage

The second stage begins when you realize that you lack some skill or ability. Thus, you decide to learn this new skill. This stage requires all of your conscious attention.

Conscious competence stage

In the third soft skill development stage, you become aware of what you’re learning. As you develop the skill, you gain confidence in yourself and reinforce your abilities.

People at a work meeting.

Unconscious competence phase

Lastly, we come to the unconscious competence phase. This is when your skill has become such a part of you that you don’t even have to think about it. You use it unconsciously in your work and personal life and it helps you adapt to your surroundings.

When a skill becomes a part of your unconscious, you use it almost instinctively, without thinking about it.

Just like other skills, practice makes perfect. In your day-to-day life, academic knowledge isn’t enough. You have to put what you know into practice, especially if the skill in question is a social one.

Finally, don’t forget that your improvements are nothing more than the result of a learning process. Although your genes might make you more or less skilled in certain areas, at the end of the day, you’re the one who has to develop and create your own set of soft skills.