Whether you’re searching for entry-level jobs or have a few years of experience, there are some “soft skills” you’ll need to make it in any industry. What’s a soft skill? It’s defined as the ability to communicate and work well with people. While that may sound like something everyone should know how to do, there are some aspects of it that many people have difficulty with, especially in a work environment.
Here are 10 ways you can improve your soft skills:
1. Be a good listener.
Communicating effectively is just as much about listening as it is talking. Don’t plan your reply while someone is talking to you; be aware of what he or she is saying. It can lead to fewer mistakes and more creativity and engagement among your colleagues.
2. Be flexible.
With cost cutting and downsizing, many companies are working with smaller staffs, so it’s important to be open to taking on new responsibilities. You may not have been hired to help create budgeting spreadsheets, but if you’re a whiz at Excel, offer to help out if you have time.
3. Be a problem-solver.
No one wants to hear complaints about stalled projects or other work issues. Rather than engaging in negative talk, try to come up with solutions. Invite your coworkers to a 10 minute brainstorming session in your office and see if you can work out the kinks.
4. Be able to accept criticism.
Everyone can stand to learn more about their job and their behaviors. Don’t be put off by constructive criticism. It can sting a little to hear it, but if someone has approached you and seems to have a valid concern, then it’s an issue worth addressing. Instead of pouting, take it into consideration and work on it.
5. Be levelheaded.
There’s no reason to blow up at work, no matter how stressed you are. If you feel yourself reaching a breaking point, excuse yourself. Take a deep breath. Count to 10. Go for a walk or cool off in your office. Once you fly off the handle at work, no one is going to forget it no matter how many times you apologize.
6. Be confident.
Confidence comes from within, but you can always “fake it ‘til you make it.” Once you start practicing the belief that you can do something, you’ll begin to believe it and more than likely, it will come true if you act on it.
7. Be positive.
Engaging in negative talk and gossip at work is only going to lead to problems. Try to keep a positive attitude and avoid those that want to wallow in self-pity or talk badly of your coworkers. Staying positive can increase your productivity, and surprise - make you like being at work.
8. Be a team player.
Technology has made some tasks more complicated so collaboration has become increasingly important. If you don’t complete your part of a project or slow down the work flow, it can cost time and money. Don’t forget that you’re working with a team even if you’re in an office by yourself. The other people involved will feel the consequences if you’ve dropped the ball.