Technological progress has allowed us to replace human labour with robotic machines for years. Artificial intelligence offers many advantages but does not yet have emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills, qualities reserved for humans. These qualities are now valued in society and the world of work, thus being called soft skills.
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What are soft skills?
Soft skills refer to behavioral skills, personality traits or even interpersonal skills valued in society. They are variable components that depend on each individual’s education and social environment but remain evolving throughout our lives. Indeed, opportunities are not the same for everyone, and once you arrive in the world of work, behaviours stand out from technical skills.
Soft skills combine different categories, such as personality traits, emotional states and behavioural skills. We will thus admit that specific points, such as skills, remain easier to acquire or learn and that others are more a matter of introspection, particularly for personality traits.
These “soft skills” are, by definition, opposed to hard skills. The latter are skills often acquired during studies, allowing everyone to specialize in a profession. Hard skills are fading in certain areas due to technical progress and the robotization of many tasks. We thus see that many people have the same level of skills after their studies. So, how can you differentiate between two candidates with equal training during an interview, for example? Here, soft skills come into play. Not everyone behaves the same way, and interpersonal skills are essential in a company so that activities can run smoothly.
There is no official classification, and the following list is not exhaustive. All these terms appear similar but are, above all, transversal: they complement and combine each other.
Everyone can always learn from the other. In all professions, it is about being critical, including your work. We must constantly question the content and form of what we do, remembering why we do it. Ingenuity is also essential to force us to draw on our resources and work as intelligently as possible without replicating tasks mechanically. Critical thinking also refers to a form of logic in our work, thinking “out of the box”.
If your manager talks to you about “critical thinking”, he is talking about your ability to think for yourself. With or without experience, you must know how to ask yourself the right questions: what is the essence of what I am doing? Does this make sense to me? For what purpose am I doing this?
Critical thinking applies in two senses: if you are critical of the work of others, accept that others are critical of yours. This open-mindedness will help you progress, regardless of your years of experience.
Artists do not have a monopoly on creativity. All professions use creativity in some way. Creativity means giving free rein to your imagination and moving away from norms to approach problems differently. Innovation always seems strange at first but eventually becomes a norm at best. Do not hesitate to take the initiative and propose ideas: at worst, they will be rejected, and you will progress by seeking to improve them; at best, they will be accepted and valued!
Also Read: Developing Analytical Thinking Skills
Communication is another critical point. It is expressed verbally or nonverbally. Soft communication skills include your eloquence and ability to persuade, negotiate, empathize, and listen actively. You do not go to your job to work or to be present but to actively participate in a project, get involved and interact with those around you. Even if you do not maintain a friendly relationship with your colleagues, you remain attentive to their proposals and interventions. Exchanges govern your daily life, so they might as well be pleasant.
Collaboration brings together several skills that vary depending on the position you occupy.
Management is essential, for example, in projects carried out as a team. The sense of collective is necessary, and a leader’s instinct must not infringe on it. Supervising the various activities is also accompanied by teaching and delegating tasks, significantly promoting understanding between the different actors. You can make decisions and resolve problems, but that doesn’t stop you from listening to your colleagues. Your motivation and enthusiasm will then be contagious, and you will enter a natural virtuous circle. The desire to undertake is also essential and characteristic of the managerial spirit.
Furthermore, in our work or our personal life, organization is essential. It may be a personality trait, but management skills can be learned anytime. Managing time and resources is critical at work regardless of your status in a company. Discernment, visualization and prioritization of deadlines are also significant qualities that superiors appreciate. According to the artificial intelligence consulting firm Whoz, the soft skill most appreciated by recruiters remains rigour. You will never be criticized for being too rigorous in your work. Therefore, collaborating actively with colleagues is essential and requires an effort of personal investment and humility.
Another quality that comes with organization is autonomy in one’s work. Nothing is more reassuring and satisfying for an employer than a person who manages themselves and works without the need to be monitored.
Social intelligence is a term that may seem abstract. It is linked to our relationships in society, with our friends, our colleagues and even with strangers. Adaptability and interpersonal skills are complex skills to acquire if they are not innate, especially since they are the ones that are seen first. For example, in an interview or meeting, it is difficult to pretend to be at ease if this is not the case.
Our behaviour adjusts depending on the situation, but we can thus apply ourselves to demonstrate certain character traits. Therefore, our state of mind relates most to our personality, which is the most difficult to change. Among the behavioural qualities appreciated are, for example:
- The dynamism
- Stress management
- Consciousness of work,
- The search for the general interest before the individual
Team spirit is increasingly sought after at a time when group projects are the norm. Today, you will rarely find a project carried out by a single person. The sense of the collective implies combining different skills between the team members, the spirit of mutual assistance and an emulsion of shared ideas.
Finally, humility is also an appreciated quality: recognizing one’s shortcomings, learning despite experience (learning capacity), and considering all of one’s colleagues regardless of their status by showing kindness and empathy without ignoring the need for requirements.
Respect, courtesy, punctuality, and honesty deserve to be mentioned, although these qualities seem more prominent.
Furthermore, to be good to others, you must be good to yourself. It is essential to know ourselves, know our faults, and agree to question ourselves. By having this perspective, we simplify our relationships with others and do not lock ourselves away by being convinced that we have infused knowledge. Social intelligence requires a certain open-mindedness and tolerance.
What do soft skills provide, and how do you work on them?
These soft skills, which are more or less easy to work on and acquire, are appreciated in the world of work and everyday life.
If we wish to be supported in improving our soft skills, we can call on coaches specialized in this discipline. At a lower cost, many podcasts on streaming applications provide guidance on this subject. Books available in bookstores also deal with soft skills and different behaviours.
To get better organized, you can use applications that help plan your daily tasks, but you can also use the paper version with diaries sold in stationery stores.
Organizations like Cegos or Myskillz also offer individual or group training to improve professional and personal skills.
Finally, confront your personality, point out your shortcomings, ask yourself why and set goals to correct your faults and improve. Ask your colleagues or those close to you to observe you and rely on their criticism(s) to evolve. Get out of your comfort zone, even if it takes some effort initially.
As for more negative energies, we can all work on them to try to remove them from our daily lives and ensure that they do not influence our work.
How do we highlight them?
The model and format of your CV and the tone of your cover letter already give the employer an idea of your personality. The types of work carried out in the past or the simultaneity of student jobs, for example, show resistance to stress, autonomy and self-discipline. Your interests, activities and volunteer experience can also be clues to your profile. You will then have the opportunity to highlight them during the interview.
Combining all the qualities mentioned above is impossible, especially since it is essential to remain yourself. Please note that soft skills do not replace hard skills, technical skills and know-how! These two families complement each other and are as important as each other.