Catch more flies… Improve your “soft skills”


Even if you’re extraordinary at the technical aspects of your job, it is still without a doubt necessary to distinguish oneself… “Soft skills” count for quite a bit.

Both Sally Hogshead and James Melton recently spoke at the ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement about “making oneself likable, fascinating, and charming.” Julia McIntosh sums up the common themes discussed at the event and asks if it’s necessary to distinguish ourselves and how do we do it?

Think about the type of person you would rather work with…  Think about what’s common among the people that get things done.

Broaden the definition of “soft skills” and you can see why…

“Soft skills are personal attributes that enhance an individual’s interactions, job performance and career prospects. Unlike hard skills, which are about a person’s skill set and ability to perform a certain type of task or activity, soft skills relate to a person’s ability to interact effectively with coworkers and customers and are broadly applicable both in and outside the workplace.”

“Soft Skills are behavioral competencies. Also known as Interpersonal Skills, or people skills, they include proficiencies such as communication skills, conflict resolution and negotiation, personal effectiveness, creative problem solving, strategic thinking, team building, influencing skills and selling skills, to name a few.”

How do you improve “soft skills”?

  1. Do a SWOT analysis on yourself.  Brainstorm your personal Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats and assess what you need to focus improvement efforts on.  Mind Tools tells you how and even has a template you can use.
  2. Create a S.M.A.R.T. goal for yourself to make sure you’re specific about what you’re wanting to improve.  Instead of trying to improve too much at one time, set it up in phases or smaller segments that are more manageable.  (Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Realistic – Timely) 
  3. Create an Elevator Pitch that establishes a personal brand that you’re comfortable with.  Distinguish yourself and be able to effectively communicate this to others. Practice until you don’t sound rehearsed.  Friends and family should hear it several times before it gets tried elsewhere.
  4. Get out there and network.  Look for local events that provide an opportunity to practice specific skills.  Start small and gradually increase your exposure.
  5. Write it down for continuous improvement.  After each opportunity to network and/or otherwise practice “soft skills,” journal what worked, what didn’t and why.  In addition to continuous improvement, the journal is motivating in that you can track your progress.

At the end of the day, “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”


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