Soft skills are vital if you want to get ahead in the workplace. It’s important to nurture your technical ability (like knowing how to use software), but this won’t get you far if you don’t know how to communicate or work in a team.
Read on to find out more about what ‘soft skills’ are and what you’ll need to do.
Communication skills: written and verbal
All jobs involve some amount of communication, and whether you can do this successfully may mean the difference between completing a project and not doing so.
You are very likely to use emails and write documents, so making sure that you can write well – i.e. clearly, concisely, politely, and without typos – is crucial. Focus on the most important points and use data or examples if you need to. Most importantly, remember to follow up on your email or document to check what progress is being made.
When speaking in person, practise ‘active listening’. Instead of simply waiting to make your point, really try to take in what your colleague is saying. Make notes and ask questions about what they’re saying to show that you value their opinion.
Relationships are very important in business, so building trust with your colleagues is essential: find opportunities to get to know them and discover some common ground. This is another area where active listening will be helpful, as you will be showing empathy (a good understanding of how someone else feels).
Empathy is also important for conflict resolution, as is being patient, keeping your temper, and tolerating different viewpoints. Practising these traits will help you to minimise disagreements, making you more likely to get on with everyone in your workplace.
Attention to detail
Regardless of where you work, detail is likely to be the key to success. Always make sure that your work is up to the best standards: proofread it carefully and double-check your numbers. Take special care with spelling if you are mentioning anybody or anything by name!
Checking your work will take time, but it is much better to plan for this so that you’re always sending something that meets your standards. You might also find it helpful to make checklists, use post-it notes with important details, or use a schedule for important deadlines.
Find out about other skills you can learn with our diplomas in business – click here to start exploring them.