As an engineer, believe me if you missed month without developing yourself, your career will fall dramatically. The system now is so fast and employers search for highly qualified, thus I always try to get into courses, workshops, and even exchange program where I could develop my soft skills.
Soft skills are something that develops with time. Development of soft skills has no first time or last time; it keeps on growing as you keep on learning in corporate world. The more soft skills you learn the better you are able to manipulate your environment, as an HR I have always stressed on the importance of soft skills in the companies I had worked. Soft skills as opposed to hard skills (such as technical skills) greatly impact the personality development of employees. Organisations today recognize that the professional development of their employees plays an important part in maintaining relationships with their customers, clients, suppliers, co-workers and developing a successful business. However, soft skills are not a replacement for hard or technical skills. In fact, they are complementary to them and serve to unlock the potential of people equipped with hard skills. The sooner the relevant soft skills are learned and developed the better. The learning stage of these skills must start at least at the graduate school level – if not earlier. Today, companies, while interviewing job seekers, are not really worried about the candidates’ technical or domain depths. They know that they can teach them the most exotic technology effortlessly, but they also know that the soft skills are the hardest to drive in. Hence the right time to learn these is the time when you are preparing for your graduate/post-graduate programmes.
Soft skills are the personal character traits or qualities each of us has. They make us who we are, generally encompassing our attitudes, habits and how we interact with other people. They refer to abilities that make people better employees and open doors for many opportunities that are not related to the subject matter of their jobs. In other words, soft skills refer to a person’s ability to relate to others, to get him/her and others organised, to communicate in written, spoken, or other forms. Soft skills have been defined by the World Health Organisation as follows: “These are the abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal with the demands and challenges of everyday life.” Soft skills include psycho-social abilities and interpersonal skills that help people take decisions, solve problems, think critically, communicate effectively, build healthy relationships, demonstrate qualities of leadership and team building, manage time effectively, and cope with the stress and strain of life in a healthy and productive manner.
Essentially, there are two kinds of skills – those related to thinking called ‘thinking skills’ and skills related to dealing with others called ‘social skills.’ While thinking skills relate to the personal level, social skills include interpersonal skills. It is the combination of these two types of skills that are needed for achieving behaviour change and negotiating effectively. Soft skills allow us to use our technical skills and knowledge effectively and efficiently. They improve the way we interact with our bosses, co-workers, and customers/clients. They permit us to get our work done on time. They influence how we feel about our jobs and how others perceive us. Consequently, the demand for and reliance on soft skills is on the increase due to constant change in the work environment, customer-driven market, information-based technology and globalization. The development of soft skills in this market is important as there is intense competition for many available positions. The ability to develop and use soft skills can make the difference between the achiever and the non-achiever.
Earlier the focus of management was on ‘hard’ skills. The emphasis was on the technical skills necessary to perform effectively. These skills tended to be more closely related to the actual task being performed. But now every single occupation you can think of demands that you have specific character traits. Moreover, an important thing to note is that soft skills are transferable between occupations. While you may have to go back to school to learn new technical skills if you change careers, you can always take your soft skills with you since they are valued in a variety of fields.
Today, employers want people with efficient soft skills. These are key skills to effective performance across all job categories. As the world has changed, and the nature of work has changed, the skill set required of managers and other executives has changed. Today’s business is all about people. It is about communication, relationships and about presenting yourself, your company, and your ideas in the most positive and impactful way. Many businesspeople like to think that success is based on logical, rational thoughts and acts, but it is also to be remembered that the human element is as important as the skills mentioned above. That is why a strong soft skills set is particularly important.
Personality includes the following:
1. Character traits:
i. Integrity: a person’s honesty in dealing with others, loyalty to one’s beliefs, value systems etc.
ii. Acceptance: by others who come into contact with a person, and recognizing and accepting them as a whole.
iii. Discipline: refers to a person’s disciplined approach to life and work.
iv. Dedication: refers to the commitment a person shows towards the achievement of individual as well as group goals.
2. Behavioural traits:
i. Interpersonal skills: the way a person develops and sustains interpersonal relations with all those he/she has dealings with – bosses, co-workers, fellow students, customers/clients, suppliers, private and government organisations.
ii. Communication skills: refer to the effective way a person communicates with others through various channels – writing, speaking, listening, and using positive body language.
iii. Leadership qualities: refer to the qualities which help a person behave in a leadership position – getting work done willingly, exercising participative leadership style, and be a role model by setting example.
iv. Team management: refers to the effectiveness with which a person demonstrates ability to build and manage team to achieve the desired goals and objectives.
v. Stress management: the quality of keeping cool in stressful circumstances, identifying the factors causing stress, and finding solutions to reduce – if not eliminate –the stressors.
i. Positive attitude: be able to have a positive attitude even in the face of difficulties and impossible situations and be willing to try out ideas in the face of obstacles and hardships.
ii. Win/Win situation: be able to negotiate and bring around the other person to an acceptable solution to a problem – thus creating a win/win situation for both the parties.
iii. Keep the end in mind be able to focus on the ultimate end (goal) in mind bypassing the various problems that may crop up on the way.
iv. Synergize: be able to combine or work together to be more effective, or to make things or people do this.
There are several types of personality people have. Some of these are:
1. Perfectionists: They are never satisfied till they achieve perfection. Sometimes people forget that there is nothing which can be ‘perfect’; it may be rather very close to the idea of being perfect. Such people are usually a source of stress for themselves as well as for others working with them. However, such people cannot be categorically criticized for aiming at total perfection as they tend to achieve excellent results.
2. Helpers: They are always willing to help others in times of need – with guidance, advice, resources etc.
3. Romantics: They are sometimes called dreamers and think of innovative ideas which sometimes people think are impractical. But sometimes the craziest idea can lead to a wonderful new design, product, or service. Quite often the world moves on the shoulders of the dreamers.
4. Achievers: These are the people who are determined to achieve what they have planned for. They put all their efforts in performing to their utmost capacity, show dedication to the task in hand, and ultimately reach their goal. It is the expected sense of achievement that propels such people.
5. Asserters: These people neither remain passive nor aggressive in any situation. They rather assert their rights, respect the rights of others, and have the innate ability to convince others and thus elicit cooperation from all.
6. Questioners: They are ‘Doubting Toms.’ They question everybody’s opinion, behaviour, ideas, way of working etc., and quite often are dissatisfied with the outcome. Others quite often misunderstand such people and consider them to be obstacles to progress.
7. Adventurers: They are ever ready to take risks in order to reach their goal. No risk is too big for them, and so they believe in experimentation with an adventurous spirit.
8. Observers: There are some who are great observers of people and things around them. They visibly – or surreptitiously sometimes – observe people, events, things, environment etc., and are often a source of important information which others might not have noticed. Quite often such people are good at analysing things, events, people etc.
9. Peacemakers: They avoid confrontational situations, and always take initiative in making peace with different parties who may be at loggerheads with each other.
Personality development is gaining more and more importance because it enables people to create a good impression about themselves on others. It helps them to build and develop relationships, helps in their career growth. Some people have particularly charismatic persona, while others are strong listeners and advice-givers. It is important to have the ability to build on and develop strengths, while at the same time acknowledging and working to improve on the weak points in your personality. After all, personality development is a tool that helps you realise your capabilities and your strengths making you a stronger, a happier and a successful person.
The following elements are crucial to the development of personality:
• Self-awareness: It includes recognition of ‘self’ – your character, your strengths, and weaknesses, desires, likes and dislikes. Developing self-awareness can help you recognize when you are stressed or feel under pressure. It is often a pre-requisite to effective communication and interpersonal relations, as well as for developing empathy with others.
• Goal setting: Many strong personalities are shaped and moulded by big visions and goals that they have. Determine what it is you want to accomplish most – whether it is to become a successful architect, a scientist, or a management professional. Setting goals is a major step on the road to developing an engaging and fascinating personality.
3. Creativity: It means to:
i. Perceive the world in new ways.
ii. Find hidden pattern in things, situations, and behaviours.
iii. Make connections with unrelated phenomena; and
iv. Generate solutions and act on them.
4. Innovation: It is an extension of one’s creativity, and means implementation of a new or improved:
• Service; or
Moreover, any innovation should be able to create value to be acceptable.
5. Human Values: Values play a crucial role in our life. They are the driving force to develop the personality of an individual. Values determine what we should do and how we should do. The choice between two things (ideas, beliefs, actions) depends upon the relative value of things. This choice keeps changing according to one’s interest and contemporary circumstances.According to Dorothy Lee (1959), “We can speak about human values, but we cannot know it directly. We infer value through its expression in behaviour.” This phenomenon depends upon one’s expression out of which may emerge certain general guides to behaviour. These guides tend to give direction to life and may be called values which in turn play a pivotal role in shaping up our overall personality.
Communication skills is one of the vital parts when it comes to development of soft skills because communication is the process by which we give, receive or exchange information with others. Communication means interacting with others:
i. To promote understanding.
ii. To achieve a result of some kind.
iii. To pass information to another person so that they can act.
It can involve speaking, listening, or writing. This information does not necessarily need to be hard facts. Sometimes just a shrug of the shoulder can act as our means of communication. One might think we would all live quite happily without communicating at all, but no – we all need to communicate throughout our life. Communication is a fundamental part of human life. Since we spend a lot of our daily life communicating in one way or another, we should be exceptionally good at it, but unfortunately, this is not the case. Life would be a lot easier if we always knew exactly what others were trying to say. Quite often people fail to communicate in a way that you could understand. Ann Dobson (2000) has said: “Nowhere is effective communication more important than at work. Vital information needs to be given, received, exchanged, and understood hundreds of times in every working day. Many business transactions go wrong simply because of poor communication between people concerned.”
PROCESS OF COMMUNICATION:
So now you can very well see that there is no last time when you can develop your soft skills it needs constant grooming, as an HR I personally believe that without soft skills it would be very difficult to manage day to day operations in an ever growing and fast changing corporate environment.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath
Softskills are developed in natural environments and activities. You don't necessarily need to enroll for a class to develop it. The best way is to just start talking to the people you meet outside - so yes, that requires you to go outside :). Join an interest group. In any group you will always need to introduce yourself (pitching, presenting) and talk (communication). Under COVID19 restrictions it may be a bit more difficult but definitely not impossible. These days there are many different online platforms that randomly connect people for a chat (Check Lunchclub for example). You'll meet people from different backgrounds and personalities. Learn from them, try new things with them. Soft skills are developed by doing.
It really depends on what your goals are. I designed a Masters in Org. Leadership (which is mostly soft skills); I would have to know what you want to develop and then I can point you the right direction. That would be easy for me and I could do it quickly, but I can't point you to generic soft skills. It is like saying what is the best tasting ice cream without knowing what you like. It sounds like you are looking to improve, but targeting is going to be critical.Otherwise you will waste a lot of time.