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Soft Skills

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Soft skills are personal attributes that enable us to interact effectively and co-operatively with other people. They are usually self-developed, meaning no training is needed to build them. However, they can be learnt and advanced. Soft skills are a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, emotional intelligence and personality traits that make it easy to get along and work effectively with colleagues.

These soft skills were often spoken about in the Experiencing the Creative Industries module. As part of our personal development plans we were encouraged to identify and improve the soft skills most relevant to us. These skills are essential when fitting into company culture and embarking on collaborations. Company culture can be defined as a set of shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterize an organization (Groysberg et al, 2018). In our Conducting Collaborative Creativity module the class discussed company culture at length. Great company culture sets the foundations for real, tangible business growth. Employees tend to enjoy work when their needs and values are consistent with those in the workplace. This sort of environment allows for honest, productive conversations and helps companies to identify problems and collectively form solutions.  Company culture is important to employers because employees are more likely to be productive in the workplace when they fit in with the company culture.

One of the biggest advantages of soft skills is that they don’t limit you to working within one industry. These are transferable skills, allowing you to demonstrate your personality and effectiveness to prospective employers, even if you have limited experience in their field. Everyone has some form of soft skills. This is where self-awareness is so important. We need to identify our own strengths and weaknesses and then to be able to develop these accordingly . It is also very important to remember that there is always  room for improvement even within your strongest skills.

The Emotionally Intelligent Office by The School of Life
Photo – Gareth Cowden

The most important soft skills to have and develop differ from person to person. Some of the soft skills which are highly sought after are emotional intelligence, ability to collaborate, growth mindset, openness to feedback, adaptability, active listening and work ethic . What links all of these skills together is a positive attitude as cheesy as it might sound. Believing that there’s a positive outcome in any and all challenging situations will help you navigate the day today of your job or making other People really want to work with you in soft skills are harder to teach but the pay off might be even bigger so make sure you’re investing time and effort into auditing and improving your soft skill set. In the age of automation and artificial intelligence, these skills are becoming increasingly more important (Akhtar and Hroncich, 2020).

As part of the module we needed to assess our own strengths and weaknesses in the soft skill department. Due to the multi-cultural nature of our class, we had many opportunities to develop and observe different soft skills from different classmates. Our group assignments and the many different groups exercises we performed in class were helpful in measuring my own soft skills and then working to improve on them.

I found the book The Emotionally Intelligent Office very helpful too. The book offers advice on 20 different skills needed for the workplace and explains why these skills are important in a clear and simple manner.

The Soft skills and company compliment each other and needs each other to prosper. In retrospect, running my own business would have been far easier if I was more considerate of mine and other people’s soft skills. But going forward as I enter the job market I will be conscious of these skills and improve them.

References

Business Insider (2020) Soft Skills Leaders Need To Be Successful. Available at https://www.businessinsider.com/soft-skills-leaders-need-for-success-2016-4?r=US&IR= (Accessed: 5 April 2020)

Groysberg, B, Lee, J, Price, J, & Cheng, J (2018) ‘The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture.’ , Harvard Business Review, 96, 1, pp. 44-52.

The School of Life (2018) ‘Adaptability’ in The Emotionally Intelligent Office: 20 Key Emotional Skills for the Workplace. London: The School of Life

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Published by fortysomethingrebirth

I am a South African from Jo'burg. I love football, music (mainly from the Caribbean) and design. I am currently studying a Masters of Managing in the Creative Economy at Kingston University in London.

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