You may be familiar with the term “character”. This is where the magic of soft skills comes into play. It’s a broad term for the non-technical more human aspects of someone’s qualifications. This can show up as charisma or the ability to collaborate effectively. Soft skills differentiate and shape you as a well-rounded individual with strong morale. They also indicate that you can contribute and build a positive network of relationships and ideas for whomever you choose to work with. Soft skills are what many modern employers are looking for. In a pile of resumes with similar academic achievements and work experience, soft skills make a candidate stand out. How can you build and enhance them over time through communication? Find out below!
Put Yourself Out There
New club? Go. Want to try out that new cafe? Great. Got a workout buddy? Awesome. There are meetups and conventions out there just waiting to be explored. New friendships can easily blossom out of the blue through a simple hello. Who knows — you may even stumble across one of your future colleagues! You’ll learn how to network, negotiate, and resolve conflicts effectively (all examples of very valuable soft skills!) through each interaction.
Chat With a Professional
There are many well-spoken people right on campus who are more than happy to have a chat about their life journey (and tough lessons learned along the way). They’ll also be up to dish you out on pointers pertaining to soft skills, acting as a mentor. These can include psychology or business professors, psychotherapists, or recruitment centre experts. They have your best interests in mind and might even surprise you with their approachability.
Surround Yourself With Positive People
While “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” is very much a cliche, every person you spend time with affects your character because positivity is infectious. (Just take a view at the Skype laughter chain and see for yourself.) You may need to refer back to the first point (i.e. put yourself out there) to achieve this. Communication expands beyond uplifting words — both body language and tone directly impact your state of mind and pave the road to leverage your soft skills.
Trial and Error
There is no feasible overnight solution or cramming in this case. It’s a series of trying, trying, trying, and finally learning through communication. This may include powering through some pretty rough patches. A series of calls or emails to employers. Interviews in all of their glory. Chatting up reps during career fairs. Reflection is the key during each step of the way.
In a nutshell, don’t be fooled by its name. ‘Soft’, interpersonal skills are far more difficult to learn (and grasp long-term) than ‘hard’, technical, learn-from-the-book skills. Like good habits, each step is built on resilience, perseverance, and tons of belief. Yes, you’re definitely going to mess up from time to time. What matters is how you handle your reaction to any outcome: framing each lesson in a positive light. Through each interaction, you’ll enhance your soft skills and eventually wow others through what makes you, you! What are you waiting for? Get out there and communicate!