Communication and interpersonal skills are often labeled “soft skills.” That really ticks me off. If communication and interpersonal skills are “soft,” why do so many people struggle to improve those skills? And why are corporations spending billions of dollars each year to develop those skills in their workforce?
That’s why I love this quote from Dorothy Dalton.
“Hard skills are the foundation of a successful career. But soft skills are the cement.”
Have you heard this one?
“Hard skills get you hired; soft skills get you fired.”
It’s time for all of us to focus on soft skills. Read on.
This article on Forbes reinforces how important soft skills are.
“Today, as companies increasingly need to become more dynamic, interconnected and flexible, soft skills are critical. According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report, executives now consider these skills important to fostering employee retention, improving leadership, and building a meaningful culture. In fact, 92 percent of Deloitte’s respondents rated soft skills as a critical priority.”
SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, has its own report on the critical shortage of soft skills. I love the subhead on the article:
” The soft skills needed to excel in today’s workplace are the hardest to teach and, increasingly, the hardest to find.”
Have I made my point yet? You–young professionals–need to focus on improving your soft skills, particularly your communication and interpersonal skills. MentorLoft is here to help you do that.
Make your teammates look good
A great way to demonstrate your communication and interpersonal skills is to make your teammates look good. Say you are the team leader, and the boss praises you for the team’s results. You can be a dweeb and thank the boss for the praise, taking all the credit for yourself.
Or you can turn the spotlight on your team, naming each member and how he/she contributed to the team’s outcomes. That, my friend, will make you look good in the boss’s eyes. And in the eyes of your teammates.
For more ways to say good things about your colleagues, check out this Harvard Business Review article.
Work on communication skills of a leader
The power of communication. Look at how the pug is communicating that he wants that cookie–through his facial expressions. John Hall, CEO and co-founder of Influence & Co., builds off the idea of asking for a cookie in this piece from Inc.
“Communication is an essential life skill for anyone and everyone. It’s one of the earliest survival skills we learn as growing children. (How else would we have asked our parents for another cookie?) As we grow and become fully functioning human beings, communication only increases in complexity and importance–especially when you’re leading a company.”
The article goes into how leaders with impressive communication skills use that ability to leave a lasting, positive impact on others. Read the article and reflect on what you can say to someone today to make that person’s day better. One of my favorite questions is this: “How can I help?”
Ask it. Listen deeply to the response. Do what you reasonably can. And grow as a leader each time you do so.
NOTE: Kudos, John. That’s the first leadership piece I’ve ever read with a cookie in the lede.
Be authentic and use good humor
I write that headline with some trepidation. One person’s idea of being authentic may be different from mine or yours. The same goes for what constitutes good humor. However, let us proceed.
Emily Mias boldly shares this description of her, created by an assessment her company uses.
“Dealing with people, Emily is frank and outspoken, expressing herself factually, at times bluntly, and with strong conviction. In general, her interest in people is secondary to her concern for getting things done in her own way and at her own pace.”
Yikes! Kudos to Emily for sharing such personal stuff.
She then goes on to offer great advice about how you can improve your communication and interpersonal skills. She is all about being authentic and using GOOD humor wisely.
If the description of her sounds like you, definitely read her article. Even if the description doesn’t sound like you, read the article. It’s really good.
Say ‘no’ or ask ‘how’?
“How many times a day do you say no? Why do you say no in the first place? Most people will tell you they respond with “no” because of laziness, fear of failure or a lack of spare time. In reality, there is almost always a better solution than just saying no.”
He offers great advice on how to improve your communication skills. Check out his solution and why it works. Stand out from your peers with this communication skill.
P.S.: These links provide great ideas on how to develop your communication and interpersonal skills. But let’s get real. You can really only focus on developing one skill at a time.
As you read the articles, do the following:
- Make a list of the skills you want to work on
- Make a list of the tips you want to remember
- Review your list and prioritize the points you want to work on
- Then dive in.
You can choose to start with the easiest tip for you to apply–such as always including a salutation in your emails. Or you can choose to start with the hardest skill for you to master–such as learning to say no.
Some folks like to tackle the biggie first. Personally, I prefer to get a few small wins before taking on the biggest challenge. It’s up to you.
Keep a diary or journal of your progress. Write down the good days and the bad days. “Why did I say that?” “I should have kept my mouth shut.”
Notes like that will help you as your progress in improving your communication and interpersonal skills.
Keep me posted on your progress. And let me know how I can help you by posting in the comments section below.
© Pamela A. Scott, 2017, MentorLoft.com