SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Communication, decision-making and empathy are core soft skills that are rarely taught in schools but are in high demand for employers.
“You are limiting your ability to grow your career if you don’t think of the soft skills,” said Andres Lares, the managing partner at Shapiro Negotiations Institute.
Soft skills are non-technical skills that relate to your work and are increasing in value because they allow you to relate better to others in the workplace.
Communication is about building relationships and listening to others to foster an environment of trust.
“Most folks that are very successful in their career will talk about who they know rather than what they know,” said Lares. “And about how networking and those connections made a huge factor in them rising up the ranks.”
Forbes reported that 61% of workforce professionals say soft skills are just as important as hard skills.
“A lot of people can do the job, but those that communicated more effectively, those that build trust and relationship in an organization, those are the ones that can move up the ranks,” said Lares.
There has been a shift toward skill-building in organizations that are looking for a more diversely skilled workforce, according to 69% of respondents in a McKinsey & Company study.
“We can teach the technical, we can teach the code, we can teach you to manage projects, but we can’t teach you to be a great listener, to have empathy, to care, to be motivated,” said Lares.
Develop and grow the skills
Soft skills also include teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence, ownership, attention to detail, curiosity, grit, adaptability, stress management and more.
Know your strengths and weaknesses and improve the skills that coincide with your personality while growing skills you are not so good at.
Step out of your comfort zone, enter a setting you normally don’t gravitate to and test your communication skills. Go to professional networking events or simply sign up for a yoga class to work on interpersonal skills.
What also helps with stepping out of your comfort zone is taking on more leadership roles to work on skills like ownership, teamwork and adaptability.
Your perception is very different from others, so asking for feedback can help you identify gaps in your personal skills.
Soft skills and how to negotiate salary
Those who negotiate their salary earn nearly $1 million more than those who don’t ask.
“Most people don’t like to do it for fear of if you come in too strong, you may damage the relationship and if you don’t negotiate enough, you may leave money on the table,” said Lares.
To minimize that fear, Lares suggests that first, you should come prepared and search the average salary of the job and the position, which can vary depending on location.
Secondly, prepare what you want to communicate. “Oftentimes, not only do we come unprepared on what we want to share, but we are always looking backward,” said Lares.
“When you think about what a raise is really about is less about what you did in the past but what do you bring to the table moving forward.”
Think of ways that make you difficult to replicate. It’s not wrong to bring up what you have done, but Lares notes to put it in a forward-looking lens.
Third is scripting; how you put all the elements together. “What are the two, three, four things that you have done in the past that will then predict why you will be so valuable in the future,” said Lares.
If you implement all three and negotiation is not reached, Lares recommends asking to revisit the topic three months later into employment to keep the negotiation open.
First day on the job
“If you’re really genuinely curious, then that changes things, because now you’re asking questions because you really care,” said Lares. “And what happens is a better conversation but the other side feels that and now there is a relationship built.”
Key objectives for your first day at a new job should be to convey your values and intentions early. Stay consistent and reliable — this improves the truth among your colleagues as well as your image.
Master the “art of connection” by finding similarities to connect on, but don’t force it. Always seek authenticity.
“The word genuine, authentic, we hear that overused,” Lares said, “but if those things are coming into all of your soft skills, what you’ll find is you get a lot more out of it. There’s more satisfaction and more relationships built.”