Hard and soft skills are terms that get used quite a lot in corporate parlance. You must’ve come across them on more than one occasion, but ever wondered what they mean?
Put simply, soft skills are those skills that come into play primarily during communication. How effectively you use voice modulation, choice of words, and even silence as per the situation factor into your soft skills. As you’ve surmised, it’s not really something that’s tangible or measurable other than by deeper interaction with the person.
Hard skills, on the other hand, are professional abilities that you can be taught through education and training. They are quantifiable, measurable and well-defined.
Now that you know the difference between soft skills and hard skills, we’ll be going through some soft skills and hard skills examples, and how you can improve them:
It’s fair to say that virtually no work is possible without communication, and as such, it’s the most important soft skill to focus on. These days, there are various modes of communication apart from face-to-face conversation, including e-mail, instant messaging, phone call, and virtual meetings.
When it comes to visual modes of communication, such as face-to-face conversation, ensure eye contact with everyone involved in the discussion even though you might be replying to one specific person. When it comes to virtual meetings, at least make eye contact with the screen or camera instead of constantly looking around your room or fiddling with some contraption on your desk while you’re speaking.
Body language is another aspect of communication that sometimes ends up revealing more than the spoken word, so practice and maintain convincing body language during your conversations, both in face-to-face and virtual discussions.
Try to be aware of when to be formal and when informal. Making a humorous comment during a serious meeting with stakeholders might not go down as well as it might with your own team, for example.
No matter what you do, you’ll likely always be part of a team. So, learn how to get along and enhance the relationship in order to improve morale and boost productivity. Compliment teammates on a good job and at least offer to share the workload when someone has too much on their plate. These soft skills will help you along in your working life.
Everybody appreciates innovation and fresh takes. Soak in knowledge from everyone around you by participating in discussions, watch interesting shows and documentaries, read articles, see what other companies are doing, all in an effort to present new ideas at your workplace.
Practice makes perfect
Skill – the ability to do something well – doesn’t just come about on its own. It needs a lot of practice and dedication. If there’s a given area of work where you’re trying to improve or even be the best, there’s no shortcut around practice.
Aside from merely practicing over and over, look for new ways to improve, read up online, watch videos, pick up whatever you can to give your skill an edge.
Keep in touch with the experts
In any industry, there will be industry professionals and subject matter experts (SME), and it’s important to maintain touch with these people. Not only can they offer you feedback and suggestions on your work but also help connect you to others like them in the industry.
Learn but apply yourself
At times, you’ll need help and guidance to take you to the next level. Don’t be afraid to ask for coaching when you’re in a rut. However, try and apply what you’ve learnt to practical use whenever possible.
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