A Beginner’s Guide to Soft Skills for the Technical Guy


From the pre-historic times, when our cavemen ancestors hunted wild animals for food and protection with crude weapons, we have an innate tendency to prefer robust things over those that can easily be damaged.

Even today, if you were to walk into a furniture store to purchase a sofa, the first thing that you will involuntarily ask the salesperson is if the sofa is going to last long. This is also the reason people get more positive vibes when they hear the word “hard”, compared to “soft”. “Hard” sounds like something robust and durable, while “soft” gives the impression of some flimsy, fragile object. So it must be clear to you now why people tend to associate “Hard Skills” with skills necessary to earn money, while “soft skills” is perceived as some fancy stuff only for the HR department.

Quick Quiz!

To debunk this perception, let’s forget the discussion for a minute and play a quick game! You just have to fill in the blanks with suitable forms of “hard” or “soft”:

  • The …. voice of the customer service agent helped calm the irate customer.
  • The manager broke the news of the colleagues’ death …
  • People respect him because of his …. -spoken nature.

I am sure you must have chosen the word “hard” in all three sentences. Wait, what? Didn’t you? Why?

Why Soft Skills

You might say that something didn’t seem right about using the word “hard” in these sentences. When you hear a perfectly normal conversation but still feel something is missing,  what you are experiencing is an absence of “Soft Skills” in the speaker. No matter how skilled you are and what job you are in, if you don’t know these Skills, you are stuck in life. In short, hard skills will get you a job, but Soft Skills gets you promotions. Hard Skills may well be the engine that runs a machine, but Soft Skills is the cooling lubricant oil without which even the best engine won’t run for long. So is Soft Skills limited only to the working environment? Absolutely not!

Can you recall the time when you were kids and fighting over some task when another friend pulled both of you apart and said something to calm you guys down? And then managed to make you guys do exactly what you were fighting over in the first place? Well, your friend was applying Soft Skills!

“Soft Skills” a Misnomer?

What’s interesting about “Soft Skills” is that they are often the hardest skills to master. Anyone can acquire hard skills through routine academic education, but Soft Skills comes from your parental upbringing, your culture, the way you perceive the world, your hobbies, and the positive attitude you have towards life.

To provide a deeper insight to our readers on this, we have listed some of the most well-known Soft Skills titles, and hope that our readers get to understand and apply these skill-sets at important stages of their lives.

Communication Skills

  • Verbal Communication
  • Body Language
  • Non-verbal Communication
  • Business Writing
  • Active Listening
  • Presentation Skills
  • Public Speaking
  • Interviewing

Leadership

  • Manager Management
  • Supervising & Managing
  • Performance Management
  • Giving Feedback
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Delegating Responsibility
  • Coaching & Mentoring
  • Strategic Planning
  • Team Building
  • Talent Management
  • Managing Remote Teams
  • Managing Virtual Teams
  • Crisis Management

Influencing

  • Facilitation
  • Selling
  • Inspiring
  • Persuasion
  • Negotiation
  • Motivating
  • Collaborating
  • Query Handling
  • Trust Building

Interpersonal Skills

  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Handling Difficult People
  • Personal Branding
  • Office Politics

Personal Skills

  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Emotion Management
  • Stress Management
  • Handling Criticism
  • Self Confidence
  • Assertiveness
  • Self-Leadership
  • Self-Assessment
  • Work-Life Balance

Creativity

  • Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking
  • Troubleshooting
  • Design Sense

Professional Skills

  • Diversity Awareness
  • Business Ethics
  • Business Etiquette
  • Business Trend Awareness
  • Technology Awareness
  • Meeting Management
  • Time Management
  • Planning & Scheduling
  • Organizational Skills
  • Intercultural Competence
  • Train the Trainer
  • Process Management
  • Knowledge Management
  • Writing Reports and Proposals
  • Customer Service
  • Entrepreneurial Thinking

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