The Importance of Soft Skills

Now more than ever, soft skills, those non-technical skills necessary within organizations, are required to conduct business in today’s digitalized world. In particular, there are 5 soft skills to master after COVID-19.

Possessing certain soft skills will help you get a job, as it will allow you to stand out from the crowd. Recruiters are looking for candidates who could be a great fit from a professional and personal point of view. 

For example, companies that have switched to working remotely will value more candidates with a record of adapting swiftly to changes and with the ability to work with limited supervision. On the contrary, innovation and creativity will be a must-have for start-ups and creative agencies.

As we have seen from the two examples mentioned above, there are no qualities that can apply to every job. However, some soft skills have seen a rise in importance since the beginning of the pandemic caused by COVID-19. 

How to Develop Your Soft Skills

Soft skills are often related to your personality and are usually more challenging to acquire. Nevertheless, it is still possible. 

The first step is to understand what are your strengths and blind spots. Are you a great listener? Do your colleagues think you are an empathetic person? Or that you should work harder on your leadership skills? All these questions are the starting point for developing soft skills.

Secondly, be open to learning opportunities! It involves having the courage to ask for honest feedback and improve yourself. Sometimes this will take you to unfamiliar territories. Don’t be afraid and embrace these opportunities to practice your new skills.

Thirdly, as suggested by McKinsey, companies should facilitate the training of employees through a blended approach that includes self-evaluation, digital training, and peer coaching. HR departments should be leading the way to effectively helping employees developing their soft skills.

5 Soft Skills to Master after COVID-19

COVID-19 has accelerated the need for mastering specific soft skills to thrive in the new era of working from home. Communication, adaptability, emotional intelligence, and innovation are fundamental to adapt in the best possible way to the changes we are living in.

As we have said before, some people are born as innate communicators, and others not. However, this should not stop you from improving the soft skills of the future. We have some tips that will help you practice. 

Communication

If working remotely during COVID-19 has taught us something, it is that communication is the most fundamental soft skill to develop. Managers should be great communicators to guide employees during difficult times, and communication among co-workers is the first step for a great team. 

How to Improve: a great communicator is a great listener. So start by improving that. What is that your co-workers or employees are trying to tell you? Which problems do they have? Once you understand that, take a moment to reflect on what you want to communicate and on how what you are saying will be received. Moreover, there are many resources to learn the art of communication, from courses at the Harvard Kennedy School to books like The Art of Communicating, by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Adaptability

Again, it was one of the most demanded soft skills even before COVID-19, but the pandemic has made adaptability a must-have soft skill. It can be easily understood why. People who can adapt quickly to different situations will perform better in times of uncertainty as to the ones we are living in today. 

How to Improve: learn to step out of your comfort zone, practice things you haven’t done before and get used to it. It’s fine if at the beginning you are feeling nervous, keep on practicing and you will see that with time it will be easier for you to adapt to changes. Furthermore, research shows that people with higher levels of emotional intelligence are more prone to adapt to new situations. Hence, we suggest you work on your emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the capacity to understand and recognize your emotions and those of others. People high in emotional intelligence create better relationships with clients and co-workers. Hence, emotional intelligence is fundamental to foster positive relationships even online. 

How to Improve: the key to EI is to be aware of your emotions. Once you will master that, start to give more attention to the people around you. What do they need? What are they telling you through non-verbal communication? You can find many more useful suggestions on how to increase emotional intelligence on your team in this article published by Forbes.

Innovation

Innovation and creativity are probably the buzzwords of the last five years, at least in the business world. They refer to the capacity of inventing something new and to the art of creating new strategies for old problems. An innovative approach will help organizations to come up with solutions to face tomorrow’s problems. 

How to Improve: It is often thought that the capacity to innovate or create is innate in a person. But it is one of the biggest misconceptions of our times. You can train your creativity by identifying a specific problem and thinking about different solutions to solve it. It is important also to see what other businesses have done before you. Remember, innovation is the capacity to solve old problems by adopting new perspectives.

Resilience:

Psychologists define resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress”. This doesn’t mean that you won’t feel stressed or worried when you face adversities, but that despite this, you will find a positive way to overcome and grow from those difficulties.

How to Improve: The key to improving your resilience is to change your attitude towards problems. Instead of panicking, you should look at problems as a learning opportunity. In the worst scenario, you will learn what doesn’t work. So don’t be too hard on yourself and take time every day to celebrate your small or big successes. It will help you train your mind to focus on positive thoughts. 

A Better Working Place

Soft skills will certainly help you create positive relationships with co-workers and employees. 

In particular, we have seen that there are 5 soft skills to master after COVID-19. Improving in all of them will give you more chances to adapt and thrive in the working environment of tomorrow. 

However, mastering certain soft skills is not a guarantee of creating a positive environment in the workplace. To achieve that, we suggest you read 7 Actions to Improve Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace and 3 Secrets to Foster Happiness in the Workplace.