Of late, soft skills have emerged as a tool with enough power to make or break your career. How often do we encounter technically talented people who excel in their jobs, but whose career stalls beyond a certain point because they lack the social communication and relationship building skills to manage, work with and lead other people? Soft skills is an umbrella term which includes communicative skills, listening skills, team skills, Leadership quality, creativity and logic, problem solving skills, diplomacy and change readiness, among others.
Soft skills are generally gifted and cannot be learnt from a book. Roots of soft skills can be traced back to one’s ‘Sanskaras’ (Family Values). Still, formal training can, of course, give you a fresh perspective, and teach you tips and techniques if you need to improve specific skills, but if you really want to ingrain soft skills into your personality, you have to become a keen observer, an eager learner and an assiduous workman religiously putting to practice all that you have learnt. Here are a few soft skills which may help you improve your career prospects and enhance your personality as a whole.
Effective Communication Skills
Effective communication skills include oral Skills for public speaking, presentations, negotiating, conflict resolutions, knowledge-sharing; Writing Skills for preparing reports, proposals, instruction manuals, writing memos, notices, official correspondence etc. It also includes a combination of verbal and non-verbal skills. Since our official medium of communication is English, certain amount of proficiency is needed in it. As English for us is a second language and not our mother tongue, so a constant practice at home/hostel, followed by language-lab sessions, is need of the hour. Those institutes that want their students to get placed in MNCs and reputed companies, must give this a deep and urgent thought. Quality job depends as much as on knowledge of the respective subject as on good communication skills.
Interpersonal and Teamwork Skills
Interpersonal and teamwork skills contribute to higher productivity and better environment as people work together to reach common goals. Some individuals are born leader or intuitively adopt the traits required in team work. However, in general, these skills need to be taught or can be learnt through practice and awareness. This skill has four dimensions namely—Cooperation, Communication, Work Ethic and Leadership. Cooperation requires demonstrating the ability to compromise on their views, treating team members with respect, and working within a consensus of the team. Communication here requires a dynamic interaction among team members and inviting and providing feedback and resolving conflict. Work ethics includes accepting responsibility for assigned work, completing any assigned tasks and doing so on-time, and offering assistance to other team members when required. It is certainly desirable for each team member to demonstrate leadership. This includes helping to provide structure by initiating action, clarifying concepts and problems, and summarizing activities and results.
Many people wonder why they do not have the success they want in business! Most of the time, the reason will be right under their nose; they are just unable to see it. The first thing that someone should ask is, "Am I successful in my personal life and relationships?” Personal skills are those skills which make you not only acceptable and respectable in society and at the work place but also help you in getting a good job and better career growth. They include ability to make decision, Alertness, Assertiveness, Attention to details, calmness, Commitment, Cooperation, Emotional stability, Empathy, Flexibility, Generosity, Tolerance, self-confidence, self-control, self-reliance, self-respect, Honesty, and sense of humor among others.
Problem-Solving and Other Cognitive Skills
In your day to day life, you often come across such situations where you are unable to make right decisions. You are more likely to get into such conditions when you are working in an organization. To deal with such stresses, you need to develop some skills which may help you in making decisions, developing creative and innovative solutions, developing practical solutions, showing independence and initiative in identifying problems and solving them, applying a range of strategies to problem-solving, applying problem-solving strategies across a range of areas.
Adaptability and Work Ethics
It is a well-known fact that contemporary organizations evolve and change rapidly, given the fast pace of technological change over the last hundred years of industrial era. Consequently, an employee in a contemporary organization must not only be willing to work hard but also possess the flexibility and ability to respond to rapid change. An employer requires a whole set of skills to develop adoptability like communicating across cultures, getting along with others in a multi-cultural work environment, respect for others’ faith and belief systems, avoiding racial/cultural discrimination at the workplace.
Work ethic is a set of values based on the moral virtues of hard work and diligence. It is also a belief in moral benefit of work and its ability to enhance character of the employer or any individual. A work ethic may include being reliable, having initiative or maintaining social skills. Apart from that a sense of responsibility, honesty and commitment may also be included in it.
In order to posses these above discussed skills you need to be self-aware i.e. you need to cultivate positivism in your thought and approach. You should also know how to live consciously and try to put your words into action. Reading is yet another way to improve your skills and can help you develop a better perspective of the world and the things around you. You should also open yourself to new ideas and experiences and be willing to adapt to changes if it makes the things go easier. The last but not the least you should always remember is that you need to practice and practice these skills with dedication. Practice improves your performance, helps you discover and overcome shortcomings and mistakes and gives you confidence.
Most of the organizations are now providing their employees the training of soft skills in order to improve their positive communication, interpersonal and team skills, problem solving, adoptability, and work ethics. This in turn has a very positive impact on their business and personal lives on one hand and increases the productivity of the organization on the other. So after completing a course in soft skills, one can get a job of a soft skill trainer in any of private or public organization and earn a handsome salary.
Of late, the focus has shifted from a natural man to a groomed one. Organizations, particularly corporate ones, are seeking individuals who are smart and well groomed. They have the kind of communication skills that they can outsmart any one. For which they provide training to their employees once they are recruited. But they prefer those who are already better. Since most of the people are born with the talents but they need policing and grooming, a number of private institutes are set in market that are doing this job for them. These institutes are earning a lot of money in turn, thus, providing an attractive job option for a soft skill trainer.
Teaching has recently been a good option for a soft skill trainer as Technical Communication is a compulsory subject in all Engineering and Management Institutes. There the students are trained and prepared for their placements and communication skills along with other personal skills are required to perform better in interview and group discussion. Since the growth of an institute is totally dependent on the job placement of its students, the role of a soft skill trainer becomes very crucial.
Though there are a number of institutes that are offering courses in soft skills, here are a few institutes who organize short term course for soft skill training:
After completing the course, one can get a job in any public or private organization, educational institute, or can set his own training centers. Initially, the trainer can earn somewhere between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 20,000 per month which increases over the years.
About the Author
Anurag Kumar is presently working on his Ph. D Thesis in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee.