Each new year is a fresh start to consider where you want to take yourself in life and in your career. If qualifying for a promotion or finding a job with more responsibility and better pay is on your resolutions list, consider how you can make yourself more marketable.
The easiest first step? Work on your soft skills.
Especially if you work from home, learning how to develop soft skills can help you feel more connected to your coworkers and stand out as an excellent employee to your boss.
What Are Soft Skills?
So what do soft skills mean? Let’s first look at what hard skills are. Hard skills are specific, quantifiable things you know how to do, like using Quickbooks software or speaking Italian.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are intangible, interpersonal skills you use to better connect with other people. Soft skills at work are traits you use to get along with coworkers, succeed in your tasks, and contribute meaningfully to a project.
8 Must-Have Soft Skills
You likely already have at least a few of these skills under your belt, but there’s always room for growth.
If there’s a single item on this list that is a must-have to propel your career forward, it’s soft skills in communication. Communication includes everything from how you word an email to your boss to how you express your ideas in a team meeting.
If you want to stand out from your coworkers, show creativity in how you tackle your work. Is there a more efficient way to do something? Share it with your team. Don’t be shy about expressing your ideas.
- Critical Thinking
Your boss likely wants more than a robot who does her bidding. She wants you to use your brain to critically think about the project you’re working on. Make suggestions. Try new things.
Do you dream of being a manager or leader down the road? That journey starts now, and you can demonstrate your leadership skills by taking the lead on projects and asking for more responsibility.
When you take the lead before being asked, you are being assertive, and your manager may take notice.
Even if you’re a junior staff member, your input on how to solve problems is valuable, and provides great practice for when you become senior or even a manager.
Being adaptable to what can sometimes be an ever-changing work environment is a great soft skill to have.
- Being a Team Player
Even if you’re a remote employee, you likely are part of a team. Develop this soft skill by getting to know your fellow coworkers and learning how to best work with them.
Improving Your Soft Skills
Once you’ve identified the soft skills you want to develop, look for ways to improve soft skills like these.
Take a Course
There are a ton of options when it comes to learning opportunities for you, including online webinars, books, coaches, and mentors.
Pay Attention to Others
Who at your company exhibits the skills you want to embrace? Notice how they use those skills in the workplace and try to emulate them.
Ask for Feedback
Talk to your supervisor and peers and ask for honest feedback about how you can improve your skills in your role.
Be Ready to Get Uncomfortable
Changing your normal routines and expanding beyond the zone you’re accustomed to working in will be uncomfortable. Know that it means you’re growing and improving.
Practice Active Listening
One of the best soft skills you can use anywhere in your life is active listening. Really hear what the person you’re talking to is saying rather than formulating a response in your head.
Find Opportunities to Prove Yourself
Look for projects you can take responsibility for. Ask to lead a meeting. Make recommendations for how to improve a project. These all help you sharpen your leadership skills.
Developing and improving soft skills will give you a leg up when it comes to performance reviews, raises, and being considered for new positions.
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