When you’re joining a new team, it’s easy to fall back on emphasizing what kind of background or knowledge you are coming with that ultimately landed you the job. Although these kinds of hard skills are impressive and can easily be measured, it’s also important for you to show the other side of yourself that made you the best candidate for your role — these types of skills are most commonly referred to as soft skills.
Soft skills are the people skills that help you successfully engage with your colleagues, bosses, and clients in the workplace. Regardless of your position, you have to interact effectively with everyone in your org chart, as well as with clients and those you are professionally connected to outside your organization.
Even though they are not as easily defined or as easy to measure, the soft skills you bring to the table are just as important as your hard skills.
So, good companies are typically seeking and evaluating candidates that demonstrate strong hard and soft skills when they’re looking to hire new team members or even promote within. If you’re not familiar with the concept of soft skills or are looking to refine and strengthen the ones you possess, keep reading to learn more!
What are the top 10 soft skills in the workplace?
All teams value collaborative people. Collaboration helps strengthen team relationships, morale, and the projects you’re working on. Offering to help out a teammate that is facing a challenge on a particular project, or, providing new suggestions for efficiencies or potential improvements to an organization’s processes are all ways you can add value.
Other ways to add value include:
- Being a participatory team player.
- Raising your hand and showing your ability to lead when the situation arises.
- Having the ability to clearly communicate your ideas with your team members.
- Being respectful and understanding that there may be differences in opinion.
- Receiving and utilizing feedback from others.
Pro Tip: By simply asking someone on your team to QA a message or a recommendation, you’re showing that you respect their opinion and foster a collaborative environment.
Even if you’re not your group’s manager, most teams want to know you have the ability to lead or you have what it takes to become a leader. You have the power to showcase your own leadership, so it’s important to put yourself out there to demonstrate your aptitude.
Here are a couple of ways you can showcase leadership:
- Build relationships with your team in an authentic way to better connect with them. This ultimately allows you to be seen as someone they can trust because you have their general best interest in mind.
- Show you have the ability to make decisions, manage challenging situations, and find a resolution to potential issues when push comes to shove.
- Be open to receiving feedback and new ideas. Being open to feedback allows you to get ideas and suggestions from other members of your team – some that may even be smarter than you – on how to improve and be better.
Pro Tip: If you struggle with leadership, start small – identify a challenge within your team and innovate a creative solution! You can start small and build your way up until you feel more comfortable with your own expertise, team, and organization.
This should go without saying, but you should bring a positive attitude to the office. Be friendly, be eager to support colleagues, and be a pleasure to be around. Keeping things positive is especially important when you’re working in a fast-paced environment – like digital marketing, for example!
Here are some great ways to keep things positive at work:
- Pay it forward and share your knowledge. This is a great way to collaborate with team members and add value to your team.
- Set attainable goals that help you to stay positive during a project. Figure out what low-hanging fruit opportunities exist to create quick wins for you, your clients, and your team.
- Realize when you need to leave work at work. Don’t bring home your stress and try not to bring it back the next day. Start each day refreshed with a positive attitude and don’t let negativity bring you down.
- Smile more – it’s that simple. Happiness is contagious. If you walk around the office smiling, it reinforces positive energy that your colleagues will gravitate toward.
- Try to be the team member you would want to work with. Are you making your coworker’s days better or worse?
Pro Tip: Dreading a challenging client call or having to report bad news? SMILE! No one likes delivering bad information. If you smile, you are able to exert better energy through the difficult conversation. But be sure to also communicate solutions to these types of matters as that is reassuring to team members and clients alike, no matter the problem at hand.
4. Critical & Creative Thinking
Critical thinkers are able to analyze information objectively and make a reasonable judgment independently. Whether it’s data analysis, communicating important findings with other team members or strategic planning with clients, critical thinking is an important skill for any team!
Keep critical and creative thinking top of mind by:
- Keeping the overall goal in mind. Try not to get too wrapped up in matters that won’t impact your overall goal. Be sure to consistently communicate this with your team members and clients to ensure you are all on the same page.
- Knowing what your biases are and trying your best to look past them. Be mindful of this and take value in your other team members to help overcome those barriers. This also garners trust because your team members feel you value their opinions.
- Being data-driven and coming to your team and clients with quantitative information to back up your case. This allows everyone to assess the information in an easily-digestible way for ultimate success.
- Considering short-term goals and long-term solutions. Map those out with your team and clients to ensure everyone is bought in and communicate accordingly.
Pro Tip: Sometimes we have to change the perspective of how we look at client data. For instance, you may see a rise in organic traffic one way, but how might the client hear this information? If they’re more focused on conversions and less on traffic, you may choose to compose your reporting insights differently.
5. Adaptability & Flexibility
Team members that have the ability to adapt easily are rarely discouraged by failure because they are trained to learn from the transition. These team members are able to take what they’ve discovered, identify trends, and make decisions accordingly.
Here are some ways to ensure adaptability and flexibility:
- Change is inevitable, so learn to adjust to new situations. Being resistant to new situations only adds undue stress.
- Try your best to work under pressure. There could be times that a particular project is not performing well and this is the time for team members to come together and handle the pressure or workload. You may not have the skills or experience that fits, but the effort and willingness to find a solution can make a great impact or even find a gap within your organization they never knew existed.
- Understand and fit in with your organization’s culture. Being able to fit in with those around you goes a long way.
Pro Tip: For those seeking jobs or unsure of their current job, seek organizations that fit within your own values that will help nurture your long-term growth and success.
Good teammates are able to accept feedback gracefully, both positive and constructive. Accepting and, more importantly, applying feedback fosters individual and team growth.
Ways you can become more open and receptive include:
- Asking a lot of questions. No one expects you to know everything or be an expert in all things all the time. Chances are there is someone on your team that has an answer or even has the same question as you! So, ask away!
- Observing your surroundings or situation before jumping into things. You don’t want to jump the gun preemptively. By observing people, situations, and processes, you will have the ability to gain and process information that will help you with your communication skills.
- Listening more. By developing your observation skills, you have the ability to “listen” with more than just your ears and make better decisions. It also improves your ability to interact with others and to respond in a fitting manner.
- Exchanging ideas regularly with your teammates to take your work to the next level. When you share ideas with your team, it’s almost guaranteed they will also get involved with your work. Sharing ideas brings teams together and also creates an environment where others feel free to share their own ideas.
Pro Tip: You can show compassion and recognize when it’s appropriate to offer team members direct feedback. We are all human. It’s important to understand when someone just makes an honest mistake they are aware of and not hone in and make them feel bad. When offering a critique or feedback, make sure it’s timely, clear, concise, and never personal.
7. Verbal & Nonverbal Communication
This may seem simple, but those that don’t have a ton of familiarity with speaking to people of all different backgrounds don’t necessarily realize how challenging effective communication can be. There are all times we can think of when we wish we said or wrote something differently to someone. The best team members are able to listen and communicate with their teams to come to a resolution calmly and rationally.
Nonverbal skills can help support the cadence of your conversation or leave team members wondering if it had any substance. Showing nonverbal skills that are a match to what you are ultimately trying to convey to your team shows that you are genuinely engaged and committed to the success of whatever it is you’re working toward.
But knowing what to say and how to say it is only half the battle. Sometimes it’s about what you don’t say.
- Gestures, tone of voice, facial expressions, eye-contact, and overall body language can communicate without even having to speak.
- Poor posture can make you seem uninterested or unprofessional.
- Crossed arms can seem defensive.
- Avoiding eye contact or side gazing can seem like you’re not confident.
Pro Tip: Have a big presentation coming up and nervous beyond belief? We’ve all been there. Practice in front of family or friends. Being critiqued by people you are comfortable with will help make you aware of your natural body language and cadence. Try to replicate that with your clients and team members. It’s not easy, but with practice, things will eventually become a lot easier!
Knowing yourself well means knowing how you work best both individually and with others. Knowing your emotions and your moods helps you understand how you might impact your teammates.
We all have our pain points, but it’s important to know what those are. And, we are all impacted by stress. Whether we are dealing with stress at work or in our personal lives, it’s important to communicate with your team. Ask for help if needed (see the above section, ‘Receptibility,’ for reference) and allow yourself to be human.
Here are some tips to help you with self-awareness:
- Take a personality test. Personality tests like the DiSC test can help you understand yourself better. When used effectively, they can help increase your productivity and communication by understanding your strengths, weaknesses and working styles.
- Practice mindfulness — which basically means, be aware in the moment. There are studies out there that link mindfulness to improved working relationships. Mindfulness at work can help you with your resilience by equipping you with the tools to understand your emotions, stress levels and your ability to influence them.
- Encourage feedback by asking for it. It’s important to know where you stand within your team. Don’t be afraid to ask your manager or even other team members for ways in which you can improve. This helps provide you with insight into how people view you on your team.
Pro Tip: Keep a log on how you feel throughout your week, note any stress triggers or behavior patterns you spot day-to-day to help identify trends.
You know that saying – confidence is key. It’s not only important to have the knowledge and skills to do your job but also to be confident and capable so that your team can get behind what you are communicating. Have eye-contact when speaking to your teammates and project your ideas in an engaging and meaningful way.
Other ways to showcase your confidence:
- Say what’s on your mind. Okay, maybe not everything that comes to mind, but don’t be afraid to share your position in meetings to build confidence.
- Professional training is another great way to strengthen your confidence. You may feel like you are not bringing all the skills you need at work and hesitant to offer yourself up for a particular project because you don’t have any formal training. Lucky for you there are a ton of articles, free online courses, and training available to help grow your capabilities and counteract that insecurity of not feeling adequate.
- Engage with all teammates during a group brainstorm or meeting and ask for ideas and apply them to your own.
- Strut your stuff. Seriously, this totally works. How you walk about the office really can determine what kind of mood you might be in. By adding some pizazz and energy into your walk – you automatically feel more confident because people notice your vigor!
Pro Tip: Question your inner critic. We tend to be the hardest on ourselves. If you struggle with low-confidence, there’s a possibility you might be the reason you’re struggling. Question why you think why you’re feeling what you’re feeling and question if there is evidence that supports it. Find ways to celebrate yourself, even for the small wins or successes at work.
10. Work Ethic
Team members want to work with other people that are organized and focused on the tasks at hand. They are typically able to manage their time effectively and efficiently and complete thorough and quality work. While people with good work ethics can work really well independently, they are also able to follow instructions.
Here are some ways to build on your work ethic:
- Come to meetings prepared and ready to go.
- Show dedication and commitment to coming up with the very best results for your projects.
- Understand the task at hand and that your teammate’s time is just as valuable as your own. We are all dealing with deadlines and workload but it’s best to figure out how to manage this from the get-go as it’s not only extremely valuable for your teammates. It also helps you to have a good balance between work and life – and that’s what we’re all after!
Pro Tip: Put yourself in your teammate’s shoes. If you were them, would you be satisfied with the work you are delivering? Being dependable at work earns respect and increases your and your overall team’s satisfaction.
Please keep an eye out for future posts delving deeper into soft skills in the workplace. I’d also love to hear how you utilize soft skills within your own teams. Feel free to drop a note below or send over any suggestions for future posts! You can also reach out to me @RJatGoFish!