Most people learn the hard skills in college, and be a good engineer, architect, doctor, or a specialist based on the skills learnt in the academia. This is fine, and it helps in the initial years. However, as time goes by, you use less and less of these specialist, hard skills, and you need more of other soft skills. This is because as time goes by, you rise in your career, and have bigger and larger responsibilities. You will also have bigger teams to manage, and bigger amounts will be at stake.
This is the time you realize that the hard skills you learnt are not always of great use. What you really need is expertise, mastery and experience in using the soft skills – which is what really matters. Most of all, you have to realize that as you rise higher, you do less and less work, and you need to get other people to do more and more of the work. How do you push others to do the work? What skills are needed to do this?
What are soft skills really?
Wells, soft skills are communication skills, negotiation skills, presentation skills, general management skills, motivational skills, and leadership. These are really people management skills. To do any project, you need people, and to manage the project well, to get it done on time, cost, scope, quality, you need to work with your team, your people effectively.
These skills are generally not taught in school, as we focus to learn the hard skills. However, if you want to accelerate your career, move far, higher, faster, then you need to master these at a great speed. The thing with soft skills is that it improves with experience. But you must practice them. You can’t learn communication by reading a book on communication… just like you can’t be an expert swimmer just by reading the Advanced Manual of Swimming. You need to get into the water, learn to navigate your way, try, make mistakes, and learn from them. It is OK to make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them, so that you don’t repeat them, and use this experience to get better and better.
Learning soft skills is like learning an art. It takes time, patience, determination, and perseverance. You can do it. Only thing is to become aware about it, take note of your current skills, and the areas where you need to improve. Then work out a plan, and practice to improve your skills in each area.
Today, there are several courses available to improve your soft skills – there are numerous Communication Skills courses, there are several Time Management courses, Stress Management Courses. Most of these courses are short, 1-2 days, and they are good because they tend to teach you a few techniques, a few ways to improve your communication. You will not become an expert in a day or two, but it will be a great start.
Any improvement can only be seen when you first become aware of the short coming, and measure where you are, and where you want to go. Once you know where you are, and what your plan is, then from then onwards, it is easier to take some steps, measure your progress, and see how small steps are shaping up your future, helping you grow, nurture your nature, and improve your skills, improve your life.
It is worthwhile to live a meaningful life, and life rich of experiences, of abundance, of contribution. Do not waste your time. Make the most of this opportunity. Do good, learn, help others grow by applying the principles of self mastery, and self growth. Once you improve, you improve the people around you.
Improve your soft skills. Invest in your future. You do not have to spend a fortune. There are several courses available for free on YouTube, Articles abound on the Internet, and there is a plethora of applications on the mobile phones that can be used to learn new things, grow your knowledge, and grow yourself.
Written by Vinai Prakash,
Master Trainer at Intellisoft