Editor’s note: This is part of 30-day challenge series written by Hanane Anouna. You can follow along and read the full series here.
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“Have you ever heard about soft skills before?” I always start with this question when teaching soft skills for the first time. One day, one of my students responded to me saying: “yes it has to do with softwares.” It was for me the best answer I have ever had if we try to look at it from different perspectives.
Today, you may have a strong hardware (high position and a long list of degrees) but your software (your soft skills) is the engine that will enable you to make things function properly; the fuel that will keep you motivated and persistent to attain your goals.
How many of you have a strong hardware but missing lately many softwares or need repair?
This epidemic proved to all of us that people who overcome their challenges don’t need to be presidents or doctors; they just need to be resilient.
Difference between Hard Skills and Soft Skills?
Hard skills are mostly about what you know and are fundamental for any career growth, those are also called technical skills referring to a specific field of study such as math, computer science, accounting, marketing, or architecture skills.
Soft skills are about the traits of your personality or how do you act, often referred to personal effectiveness, social interactions and leadership. They encompass many subjects including listening skills, motivation, creativity, time management, problem-solving, flexibility, emotional intelligence, positive thinking, resilience and many others.
Four Distinctions between Hard Skills and Soft Skills
- Ongoing process: compared to hard skills, soft skills require an ongoing journey. Self-improvement is a continuous process that should be maintained all over the stages of your life.
- Adaptable: soft skills are not right or wrong like an exact science, or black and white concepts to be memorized and strictly embraced. Those are skills that need adaptation and acquire flexibility depending on the context, people, and situations.
- Transferable: soft skills, unlike many hard skills, are not dependent on one specific job; they are transferable as they can fit in all workplaces and circumstances. You may evolve over time into a position that has nothing to do with your specialty and your soft skills will allow an easy transition.
- No exams are involved: Your soft skills may be difficult to quantify, but they can be measured through your level of independence, your attitude how you empathize and cooperate with others. Another example, self-confidence cannot be measured but your attitude and your communication styles can be great indicators of your level of confidence.
Why Do You Need Soft Skills?
Your hard skills may get you the job but your soft skills are what will enable you to maintain that job. A lot of people are fired because of their soft skills because they have either a very negative attitude, don’t know how to control their emotions, or get in conflict with others.
Developing your soft skills will provide you with more wisdom and understanding, things we did not learn at school or the university.
Have you ever solved your problems using logic or using one of your degrees or certifications?
When you develop wisdom, you will have the courage to move on even when you are right, to stop arguing with others when it is not worth.
Who Should Be Concerned with Soft Skills?
Everyone should be concerned with soft skills: the student, the professor, the manager, the leader, the lawyer, the doctor, the CEO. We all know that status does not reflect personal efficiency or maturity. Many lawyers or medical doctors have deficiencies in handling their stress and emotions, causing a tremendous impact on people. Some managers and CEOs don’t know how to communicate well with their teams, mixing the personal and professional spheres, wasting a lot of energy and boosting conflicts that could have easily been resolved.
What Is the Difference between Soft Skills and PDP?
Soft skills refer to all the interpersonal and social skills needed for success and personal and professional growth. A personal development plan is the road map to follow in order to attain your goals and remain on track. It is a personal assessment that aims to identify the areas of your life that need improvement.
This assessment should consider not only your professional growth, but also your emotional, social, physical and spiritual growth.
Three steps to consider:
Top 10 Soft Skills for Leaders
Previous research, conducted by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, at the beginning of the 20th century, already concluded that 85% of job success come from having well-developed soft skills and only 15% from technical or hard skills.
More recently, in 2016 LinkedIn published the result of a study conducted on soft skills and came out with 10 traits that were the most sought after by employers: communication, organization, teamwork, punctuality, critical thinking, social skills, creativity, interpersonal communication, adaptability and friendly personality. On the same year, The World Economic Forum had identified 10 future soft skills that everyone should have and embrace in the future. This includes:
Today, developing more soft skills is no longer a choice but a must for those who would like to have a better sense of life, to be happier and embrace all these shifts and changes at all levels.
The best thing that I experienced is when you move from living randomly, taking things for granted, without knowing why you keep doing certain things to a state of consciousness, where you know exactly what you want and where you would like to be.
When you shift from reacting, blaming others for your failures and criticizing anything to responding appropriately and taking responsibility for whatever situation you encounter.
When the choices you make for your life are about your own choices and not a reflection of others’ expectations.