By Melissa McManus
We all have certain experiences, knowledge, beliefs, values, and education that shape our perceptions. These perceptions are how we see or interpret things. I refer to this as our ‘lens’—it is what we use to view the world. This lens provides us with a unique perspective in all situations. It is also part of what is referred to as soft skills, or our emotional intelligence. These are the special personality traits and characteristics that we bring to the table as an individual. Soft skills are personal attributes and include leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills. Some of these can be learned and honed while others are simply innate.
When applying for a job, people often list their technical skills and education. While technical skills might get you the job, soft skills are what will assist you in keeping the job and advancing in your field. Additionally, technical requirements vary depending on the job description; however, soft skills are universal regardless of your career field.
So, how can you leverage your soft skills in the workplace? Let’s take a look at a few soft skills that are important in any workspace:
Leadership: Don’t be afraid to take control of the situation or offer your ideas
Communication: Be aware of your communication style and how others receive your message(s)
Interpersonal skills: Your interactions with others matter
Adaptability: Keep an open mind and be able to roll with the punches
Decision Making: Be decisive and stand by your results
Problem Solving: Be observant and offer realistic solutions
Teamwork: Be a collaborative member of the team
Creativity: Think outside of the proverbial box
Motivation: Be a self-starter and take initiative on projects
Time management: Be aware of deadlines and plan accordingly to stay on task
These are just a few noteworthy skills that will assist in furthering your career. So, how do you know if you have these skills? Well, you have to know yourself first. Self-awareness is a key ingredient in understanding what soft skills you possess and which ones need some exploration. Having this understanding and the ability to apply it to your situation will not only prove to make you more successful, but happier in your career as well. You have to be willing to take chances, learn from your mistakes quickly, take the initiative, and adapt to the situation. Plus, you have to know your own limits and stand by your integrity. Your success rests in your soft skills, so don’t just tell your employer you have them, show them off!
About the Author: Melissa McManus has five years of research experience as well as over a decade of experience working in the educational sector spanning from TK through Adult education. Melissa has a Masters in counseling, received from California State University, Fresno and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a focus in Human Resource Development. Melissa’s professional interests include human behavior, research, writing, coaching, training, and knowledge transfer. On a more personal note, Melissa is involved in community service efforts including serving as chair of her children’s school site council, volunteering her time as an art docent, and serving in the library of her local church. In her free time when she is not running her kids to gymnastics or karate, Melissa enjoys reading (a lot), wine tasting, Crossfit, being with friends/family, and spending time with her husband and two children.
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