Often what sets one candidate above another for a job are their ‘soft skills’. These skills aren’t specific to any job or industry, and will make you more successful on whatever your chosen career path is.
Some people are naturally great with these work skills, but anyone can learn and improve their soft skills.
In work and in life, I’ve found that most mistakes and arguments are caused by simple misunderstanding and miscommunication. Being able to convey a concept clearly to another person determines how they respond, eliminates confusion, and keeps a project running smoothly.
How to improve? Listen. Always give 100% of your attention to the person you are talking or listening to. Ask questions to clarify anything that seems unclear, no matter how silly it seems. A lot of verbal communication is about empathy: understand that the person you are explaining something to can’t read your mind, consider things from their point of view, not just your own.
Demonstrating confidence in yourself will encourage others to trust your abilities, and listen to your ideas. Self confidence is an essential interview skill for landing a job, as well as being considered for promotions.
How to improve? Confidence comes with experience and skill level. If you don’t have the experience, work at your job-related skills to build self-confidence.
Fake it ’til you make it. Pretend to be confident, even when you aren’t and it will start to feel more natural. Also try a ‘power pose’ before a meeting or interview: stand tall and stretch out your arms like you want to hug someone. This expansive posture increases testosterone, which increases confidence.
Meeting deadlines, juggling multiple tasks and keeping everything straight without becoming overwhelmed is all about time management. Staying on top of your tasks is key to being a valuable employee.
How to improve? There are more or less a gazillion tips and tricks to improve your time management skills. Everyone is different, so try out several ideas and find what works for you: make lists, use sticky notes, Trello boards or calendars, try the Pomodoro technique, meditate, stop checking emails or block distracting websites.
Working well with others is important in just about every profession. Whether collaborating with peers, or having a functional relationship with your manager, teamwork skills will make your job easier, and make you a liked and respected colleague.
How to improve? How do you become a team player if it isn’t natural for you? This is probably the toughest area on our skills list to teach yourself. In the end, it comes down to being an empathetic human being. Identify your faults (are you prone to anger, laziness, impatience?) and work on those. Often, it’s all about pulling your own weight!