George and Mary-Lynn

Why are Soft Skills So Important?

By Bigg Success Staff
08-25-08

Career Builders

soft_skills 

You’re probably familiar with this saying. You may have even heard it, or uttered it, yourself.

“He (she) was hired for hard skills, but got fired for lack of soft skills.”

Hard skills, the technical ability and knowledge to perform a particular job, are certainly important. But it’s amazing how much the paradigm has shifted in the last decade or so.

Soft skills are in demand

Companies are placing more emphasis on soft skills – things like self-discipline, work ethic, attitude, people skills, communication skills, and the like. They have realized that they can train people in the skills essential to the trade.

Universities are also jumping on board, with many now starting to offer some sort of soft skill training as part of a MBA. They’re responding to their corporate partners, who have been telling them that their graduates are technically proficient but often lacking in personal leadership skills.

What can’t be taught

So hard skills can be taught relatively easily. Soft skills, on the other hand, are tough to teach because it takes a certain level of soft skills to learn more soft skills!

An individual has to have a strong desire to learn the best way to deal with others. There has to be an acceptance that there may be a better way. The discipline to put the skills learned into practice, and not revert to old patterns, must also be present.

So if you want to set yourself apart, work on developing your soft skills at least as much as you work on your hard skills.

How do you learn?

It’s about personal leadership. One essential soft skill is learning how you learn best. Then use another soft skill – take action – and find an environment that allows that to happen. It may be a formal or informal place. It doesn’t matter, as long as you learn!

These soft skills help you professionally, but they also help you personally. The more you develop these skills, the more productive you will become. You’ll see significant changes in your relationships at work and at home.

How to start or refresh yourself

Want a great way to start or refresh yourself on basic soft skills? Read (or re-read) Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you learn better by listening, get it in audio form.

Find a friend, mentor, or coach who has also read the book (or reads it at the same time). Discuss the lessons you’ve learned. Synergize, as Covey would say!

There are so many great resources to learn these essential skills. Tap into them regularly. There’s one we particularly recommend … okay, you guessed it – you’re there now!

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