7 Soft Skills that contribute to a Successful Career

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I just read this very interesting article written by Bernard Marr (author and business man) about the 7 soft skills that successful people possess, and I found it particularly interesting and captivating. Therefore, I believe these 7 soft skills should be acknowledged, considered and developed by those who strive to be leaders.

Practically, the idea is that if you manage to master the skills below, you are able in the end to perform exceptionally in any business situation and position you may be no matter how new or out of your comfort zone. Here’s my take on the ultimate 7 soft skills.

1. Emotional Intelligence
Understanding what makes your colleagues tick, how to build relationships, connect emotionally with them and how to manage your own and other people’s emotional make-up is key. Having emotional intelligence helps you to be able to get along with people at all levels of your organization, equipped to choose the right battles (and the times to fight them!) and be prepared to finesse sticky situations. Also, you sense when to speak, raise points or to let go of arguments. It’s like the 6th sense of a business person.

2. Communication skills
You might have the most brilliant ideas in the room, but if you aren’t able to effectively communicate those ideas, you’ll never get anywhere. Being able to communicate clearly is vital to working with managers, teams, and clients. You can start improving your communications skills by paying more attention to what you say. Also, you have to learn to communicate concisely. If you rumble too much, you lose managers in the first 20seconds of your speech (and this is from personal experience:) ). Saying too little is not ok, and so is saying too much (deviating from the main point irrelevantly), so you have to learn to balance and choose your words and arguments. It’s all about experience, practice and some “emotional intelligence to it”.

3. Decision making
A decisive person is going to be desirable in any position, at any level, and the ability to make decisions is especially important the higher up you climb on the ladder. Taking forever to decide, procrastinating by doing unnecessary research, or avoiding making decisions altogether aren’t a good way to get ahead anywhere. Practice being decisive and demonstrating your decision making abilities to get ahead. It proves you can take accountability and risk. These are abilities of a striver and a fighter.

4. Integrity
Integrity at work means speaking up if you make a mistake that reflects poorly on you (rather than trying to soften or hide it), doing what you say you’re going to do, acknowledging when new information shows you were wrong and not being afraid to say “I don’t know.” Building a reputation for integrity pays off. When people know that your priority is to be honest and objective, not to protect yourself or try to make yourself look good, your opinion for sure will be taken more seriously, you’ll get the benefit of the doubt in he-said/she-said situations and, often, potentially difficult situations may go more smoothly.

5. Drive
Having drive doesn’t have to mean you have to work until 11pm every day every week or take on more responsability than you physically have time to perform. Instead, drive is about demonstrating you have determination and it could mean consistently working hard while you’re at work, or being concentrated and fully immersed in what you do. It could mean having the courage to go the extra mile for a project. It demonstrates that you’re committed to your work, and that’s very attractive to employers and managers.

6. Focus
Maintaining focus is an extremely important skill, whether we’re talking about focusing on a single task at hand or on your long-term objectives. It also means not getting sidetracked by “shiny object syndrome” :)))) or by what seems easy. It also proves that when things don’t go that well on the personal front, your professional performance will not be affected and that is really important.

7. Balance
I believe maintaining a healthy balance between your career and those things that will make you truly happy is very important.

8. Bonus skill: Calmness (yes, they were 7 soft skills, but I felt the need to add this one from my side because personally in my experience it proved to be very important and has helped me a lot in my career so far)
Calmness is one of those traits that doesn’t always get appreciated until it’s absent. But if you make a point of staying calm, rational and objective, even when you’re frustrated or angry, you’ll stand out for it. It happened to me many times. Plus, it only takes one instance of snapping at someone or slamming a door to get a reputation as The Angry One, and that’s a label that’s hard to shake. Calmness also tends to go hand-in-hand with low drama; people who are calm tend not to indulge in un-constructive interpersonal conflict and generally operate with cooperation and good will towards their colleagues.

I hope the above skills end up being a sort of inspiration for you. Maybe some of them are no brainers, or maybe I just raised a thought in your mind it would be a good idea to work on some of them. However, it was a small food for thought just before the weekend 🙂

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