A Simple Way to Develop Your Soft Skills

lifelong learning-soft skills

Some time ago, the World Bank released a high level report called Lifelong Learning in the Global Knowledge Economy (PDF). It highlights the importance of soft skills – i.e. brains, not brawn, in today’s world. It’s the revenge of the nerds!

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While it’s written about developing countries, there’s an important reminder in the report for all of us – we need to update skills continuously. Lifelong learning is the new learning.

And keep in mind – it’s not just hard skills that are important. Soft skills are too. A solid combination of hard skills and soft skills will make you stand out.

That’s consistent with the old saying – he was hired for his hard skills but let go for lack of soft skills.

As a society, we’ve tended to see more value in the hard skills. Traditionally, we mostly learn the hard skills for a given field in college.

But employers are struggling to find enough people with good soft skills. We all need to seek out opportunities to improve all of our skills, but especially our soft skills. Here are 13 soft skills to develop:

  • taking responsibility
  • making effective decisions
  • setting goals
  • managing time
  • prioritizing tasks
  • persevering
  • giving strong efforts
  • working well in teams
  • communicating effectively
  • having empathy
  • knowing how to learn
  • exhibiting self-control
  • believing in one’s own self worth

You can learn these skills formally – by going back to school or taking a course online or through your employer or industry.

Or you may prefer to self-study. If you choose this last technique, here’s a suggestion:

Take a cue from ol’ Ben Franklin. He created a system to develop thirteen virtues.

  • Pick one of the thirteen soft skills you want to develop.
  • Each week, work on just one of them.
  • Record how well you did each day.
  • Every quarter – that’s thirteen weeks – you’ll get through the whole list.
  • So you’ll spend four weeks – or 28 days – focusing on every single one of these soft skills.
  • Once you’ve mastered a skill, replace it with another one.

One by one, day by day, week by week, you’ll reach BIGG success!

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