Are you good at your job?

Sure, you learn how to sell, write code, design graphics or fix machines. You checked off all the boxes that your boss wanted to be checked.

But are you good at exploring new ideas? Or maintaining a healthy relationship with others or facing a catastrophe with a calm mind? How much time do you even spend for improving “soft skills”?

Let’s change the context a bit. I know you love friends and family. But do you spend the time to understand their needs better? Can you resolve the conflicts without getting emotionally closed off?

An Outdated Programming Still Plagues Us

When we prepare for our career, we focus on professional skills. We learn coding, designing, sales, accounting because we are told that is what we need to thrive in life. A good job and a big fat salary, right? And meanwhile, we cast aside the development of soft skills: compassion, persuasive ability, learning how to keep the head cool when things are going south.

“Who does even care about those when I can do my work?” thousands of young students and professionals harbor such thoughts. Such pure negligence bolsters the low opinion about people skills.

This is not their fault. We all are contributing to it.

When HR people recruit, they seek superior vocational skills. They screen in such way because firstly, that is how they learnt it; secondly, measuring passive skills is goddamn hard. Good luck finding out commitment of a candidate to his job with a conventional one hour interview.

Most successful hires comes through right person’s references. Such candidates are tend to balanced in both hard and soft skills.

And it makes sense.  No one is going to put their own reputation at risk unless they believe you are both competent and easy to work with, right?

Having skills is not enough to make someone trust you. You make them to trust you trust by either having excellent conversation or better, working together in past — both are being part of soft skill.

The quality of your relationship is equal to the quality of your life and this applies to both business and personal life.

We Are Bleeding And We Aren’t Even Realizing It

Lack of soft skill kills our business and careers.

Lou Solomon in Harvard Business Review wrote 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees —clearly a failure on their part.  And when managers themselves are suffering from poor communication skill, imagine how it is for others.

Not a promising picture.

Businesses are so seduced by resumes that they ignore large loophole in soft skills. I witnessed many instances where a project failed flat because someone among the team refused to take his responsibility, mindless ego clash massacred team spirit and power play forced future stars to leave the company.

And decades of ignorance is straining our personal relationships as well. Our attention span hit the all-time low; empathy is fading while the numbers of divorces are scaling high. Add new gadgets to the concoction, we have a generation who struggle to hold even a basic conversation.

Stop Calling It “Soft Skill”

I hate calling people skill as “soft skill”. Whenever we call it soft, we imply these are optional. But in reality, these are as important as any life skill. Even the future success is dependent on how empathetic and charismatic you are.

Now, most people say, “You can’t learn personal skills. Either you born with it or you don’t”. This is ridiculous. No one comes out from mother’s womb as a great listener. I am yet to hear about a baby who is George Clooney-like charming. We learn empathy, active listening, and gauging emotion reaction etc. while growing up.

So stop calling charisma as “soft”. Stop labeling leadership skill as insignificant. These are essential skills, something you can use in every aspect of your life. So take time and learn those, like you would do with any professional skills.

People Skill: The Corner Stone

There is not any big black book of people skills. So here I tried, to sum up all the core skills into five categories. Not a definitive taxonomy, of course, rather a start, a stepping stone.

  1. Self-control: This boils down to sticking with the mission without getting distracted. That might include dealing with works which you might not like or ignoring the temptation of chocolate while on diet. This category include skills like :-
  • Bouncing back from Failure
  • Long term work endurance
  • Collaborative mindset.
  • Healthy competitiveness
  1. Productivity: How efficient you want to be? Do you willingly learn and practice for development? Followings are the part of this category:-
  • Lateral thinking.
  • Time management
  • Risk assessment and risk taking
  • Innovative problem solving
  • Planning and execution
  1. Influence: These set of skills required for persuading others.It may includes but not limited to:
  • Charisma
  • Assertiveness
  • Body language ( reading and delivering)
  • Gift of gab
  • Negotiation Skills
  1. Wisdom: How you use your knowledge and experience to deal with new situations. Under this category:
  • Diplomacy in difficult situation
  • Ability to mentor others
  • Conflict resolution
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  1. Perception: Perception is a fancy name for all skills that help to scramble a vision, big picture. Some examples:
  • Strategic thinking
  • Judging people and situation
  • Map making

In conclusion, soft skills may be hard to notice at a glance but can make difference between a successful business/ relationship and failure. Stop taking soft skills lightly. Take time and master those properly.