The term “Soft skills”, which translates as “Flexible skills”, is on everyone’s lips today. First of all, a large number of employers necessarily pay attention to the presence of such competencies in applicants for one or another place in the company.
The list of soft skills is quite extensive, so it is unlikely that someone will be able to develop each of them to a hundred percent. Nevertheless, some skills are sure to be useful to anyone, both in the professional field and in everyday life.
Differences of soft skills from hard skills
By hard skills, we mean professional skills. They are measurable and can be learned. To learn them, you must memorize certain instructions and knowledge and then pass a final exam. Some examples of hard skills are blind typing, motorcycle driving, programming, sewing, etc.
Soft skills are almost impossible to measure and assess. They are universal and relate more to underlying, personal qualities. Soft skills are developed through life experience and largely depend on the character. A few examples of soft skills: patience, creativity, kindness, self-control.
What exactly is the difference between soft skills and hard skills:
- Hard skills involve the left hemisphere of the brain, which is responsible for logic and intellect, and soft skills involve the right hemisphere, which depends on emotions and empathy
- Hard skills are not affected by the place of work, the people around them, or the internal routines of the company. Soft skills are flexible, able to adapt. Example: Whichever company employs the driver, his driving skills (hard skills) will be the same everywhere. But communication (soft skills) depends on where the speaker is speaking, to whom he/she is addressing, and in what situation (a meeting, a conversation with a colleague, or a conversation in the park). This is where the universality of soft skills comes in.
- Hard skills are mastered in courses, at school, or the institute. To improve skills, the level of difficulty is increased, and it can be stepped on, like a ladder. Soft skills cannot be formed through any instructions. Some qualities either will be from birth (e.g., modesty, sociability), or they must be pursued gradually, through ups and downs (e.g., leadership or creativity). Soft skills are acquired much more slowly than hard skills.
- To prove professional skills, a person can present a diploma or certificate, but there are no documents for soft skills. Only time and practice show the availability of these skills. By the way, when I was in college my soft skills help me write my essay all the time because I could ask people in the way they didn’t mind to do it. Actually, soft skills help you to build great relations with people.
The need to develop soft skills
Flexible soft skills are needed in all spheres of life, not only at work. Thanks to them they achieve success in learning and communication, build friendships, establish interaction with relatives. For those who can articulate their thoughts correctly, attract attention during public appearances, it is easier to pass exams orally.
Self-mastery protects against procrastination, which prevents you from being efficient and achieving your goals. Time management skills allow you to spend your energy wisely, plan your time, and set both short-term and long-term priorities.
Scientists also talk about the need to develop soft skills. For example, there was a study of IT workers on the importance of personal qualities. They analyzed the stereotype that those who communicate with computers do not need to communicate well with others, be able to make quick decisions, or have leadership skills.
But the survey of 262 employees and chiefs of IT companies showed that more than 97% of them believe that soft skills are important for technicians. The rating of the most useful qualities included: the ability to talk about complex things simply (8 4%), the ability to express thoughts intelligently (89%), and the ability to quickly identify problems (83%).
Consider the role of soft skills in several other professions. Patients and superiors are unlikely to appreciate a rude, unconvincing doctor with low emotional intelligence. A salesman will not be able to retain a customer for long, or even find one if he lacks negotiation and communication skills.
Even if he knows the whole market and its peculiarities thoroughly. Someone who works in customer support and has developed organizational skills will only achieve success if these hard skills are complemented by empathy and active listening.
As we have seen, agile skills are important for complex interactions: both with external partners and with employees within the company. Team unity and cohesion depend on the ability to communicate, and employers especially value those who have this competence.