Soft skills in the workplace often gets shrugged off. People often tend to value technical abilities; which is important but in isolation very problematic. There is also the case of type of work environment which tends to play a role as well. For example research fellows may need less client relationship skills as opposed to procurement professionals who need to establish good networking capabilities. However, irrespective of industry or work environment; there are still fundamental soft skills in the workplace that everyone should learn as soon as possible. Failure to do so can result in incompetent managers, workplace conflict and above all a poor workplace productivity.
If you can’t resolve conflict, then the best bet is to avoid it as much as you can. The workplace can become a heated place especially due to opposing perceptions from colleagues. Words can be misconstrued which can ultimately result in HR issues or bad work relationships. If caught in an heated argument with a coworker, conflict resolution is of utmost importance. Follow the following tips:
- Always speak assertively and respectively irrespective of how angered you are
- Never make decisions when you are angry
- If necessary, involve a 3rd party with an unbiased viewpoint
- Keep to the fact when arguing your point
- Don’t get personal
You will learn this the hard way but keeping a journal is probably one of the most useful and important soft skills in the workplace. During meetings, facts are often ignored and casual encounters in the workplace are often meaningless. You need to essentially keep a journal to enter in chronological order the series of events that took place. This will ensure that when there is a disagreement, you can easily pull out written facts to prove your point. Remember to not leave spaces between your journal entries. Also journals can simply be used to recollect facts or keep track of outstanding action items.
Handling emails is a skill. This will not only save you time but also add to your professionalism. Remember these vital skills when handling emails:
- Categorize emails by person for easy searching
- Archive emails to save mailbox space
- Add an email signature with contact details for professionalism
- save important emails for reference at a later stage
- Use email etiquette i.e. no red colors and no bold prints (suggestive of screaming)
- Use read receipts for critical emails
- Learn to use “CC” appropriately. No one likes to be included in emails irrelevant to them
- Send follow up emails and escalate when you get no responses
Being self-dependent doesn’t mean working in isolation. It simply means that if left to your own devices, you should be able to fend for yourself. Being self-dependent also means that you are willing to grow and makes you a suitable candidate for leadership roles. Here are ways to be self-dependent and grow in the workplace:
- Self -study (read books, online resources and youtube videos)
- Ask people questions about their process (make notes and map them out)
- Volunteer to be in meetings and projects even as an spectator
- Take on additional courses or certifications
- Try doing something on your own before going for help. This will expand your ability to solve problems.
These are only a few soft skills in the workplace that can help you become more productive and accustomed to workplace culture. There are obviously more that you will find as you navigate through your career. You may have bad experiences, however try to use it as an opportunity to develop yourself and grow. With time you will become more efficient and better and dealing with people, so stick in there.