Soft skills are attributes and personality traits that help employees interact with others and succeed in the workplace. In the workplace, soft skills are considered to be a complement to hard skills. They make human interaction both among employees and between client and employer to be possible. Soft skills have more to do with who people are than what they know.
As such, they encompass the character traits that decide how well one interacts with others and usually are a definite part of an individual’s personality. Soft skills can be regarded as non-technical skills that describe how you work and interact with others. Below is a top 5 list of soft skills every job seeker and employee should have.
History of soft skills
The term “soft skills” was created by the U.S. Army in the late 1960s. It refers to any skill that does not employ the use of machinery. The military realized that many important activities were included within this category, and in fact, the social skills necessary to lead groups, motivate soldiers, and win wars were encompassed by skills they had not yet catalogued or fully studied. Since 1959, the U.S. Army has been investing a considerable amount of resources into technology-based development of training procedures. In 1968 the U.S. Army officially introduced a training doctrine known as “Systems Engineering of Training” covered in the document CON Reg 350-100-1.
PG Whitmore cited the CON Reg 350-100-1 definition: “job-related skills involving actions affecting primarily people and paper, e.g., inspecting troops, supervising office personnel, conducting studies, preparing maintenance reports, preparing efficiency reports, designing bridge structures.”
In 1972, a US Army training manual began the formal usage of the term “soft skills”. At the 1972 CONARC Soft Skills Conference, Dr. Whitmore presented a report aimed at figuring out how the term “soft skills” is understood in various CONARC schools. After designing and processing a questionnaire, experts formulated a new tentative definition: “Soft skills are important job-related skills that involve little or no interaction with machines and whose application on the job is quite generalized.”
They further criticized the state of the concept then as vague with a remark “in other words, those job functions about which we know a good deal are hard skills and those about which we know very little are soft skills.” Another immediate study by them also concluded in a negative tone.
Psychologist Nicholas Humphrey famously stated that social intelligence, rather than qualitative intelligence, defines humans. Many industries today give prominence to the soft skills of their employees. Some companies now offer professional training of soft skills to their employees.
Top 5 Soft Skills
Time management involves the ability to use your time wisely to work as efficiently as possible. Some sub-skills related to time management are:
- Stress management
- Goal setting
Communication is the ability to convey or share ideas and feelings effectively and it’s among the top soft skills employers require across all fields. The most common communication skills are:
- Verbal communication
- Written communication
- Constructive feedback
- Active listening
Being able to analytically and creatively solve problems will come in handy no matter your job. After all, there’s no job in the world where you won’t have any problems to deal with. That is why creative problem-solvers are always in high demand. These are some of the skills associated with problem solving:
- Logical reasoning
- Decision making
Teamwork can be regarded as one of the most important skills. It helps you work effectively in a group and accomplish tasks. Some examples of skills related to teamwork include:
- Conflict management and resolution
- Idea exchange
Interpersonal skills are all about how well you interact with others, tend after relationships, and make a positive impression on those around you.