Everyone possesses soft skills during their education. Certainly, you have your set of skills; however, these may not be enough to bring a significant impact in your career. You will find some helpful tips on how you can develop your soft skills on this page, and hope, you will use these to your advantage.
Developing Your Communication Skills
How do you improve and develop your communication skills?
You must begin by asking yourself if your problem has something to do with your level of confidence.
Are you afraid to speak up and share your ideas because you think they are not good enough?
Do you get cold feet when giving a presentation during a meeting or a workshop?
If your answer is “Yes,” then this is indeed a confidence issue. Here are some steps to build your confidence:
1. Do not set too high expectations on yourself. When you do, you will only put a lot of pressure on yourself and this could only add up to your frustration.
2. Know what you are talking about. If this is your first time to join a business meeting or to give a business presentation, then do your homework and practice before the event. If you are familiar with the subject then it is easier for you to be comfortable about it.
3. Stay calm. Relax and breathe. Close your eyes and envision the whole event even before it started. Visualization is important to keep you calm and prepared.
4. Use positive and polite body language. Communication involves the nonverbal cues so make sure you do not slouch, fold your arms, or do anything that connotes negativity.
5. Ask questions. This is one good way to get everyone to participate and once the atmosphere is warm and relaxed, you will become more at ease.
6. Use positive words and be energetic. Nothing bores people more than a person who sounds bored himself.
7. Listen, if you think that communication is all about you talking, then you got it all wrong. A large chunk of communication involves listening, which means that you need to keep an open ear and focus on what the other person is saying. If you fail to listen well, this could result to ineffective communication.
If your communication concern does not have anything to do with confidence but simply by the language barrier, then your best course of action is to learn and adapt to the language, know the culture, and make sure you incorporate both the language and the culture when conversing with these people.
For example, if you are a Japanese engineer who went to the US to work, you need to learn the English language, including their slangs and colloquialisms, as well as their culture in order for you to be effective in communication with your American counterparts.
Developing Your Interpersonal Skills
At this point, you may already possess certain attributes that comprise interpersonal skills. However, you know these are not enough and you want to improve and develop these. If so, here are some ways to develop your interpersonal skills:
1. Be an empathetic listener. You need not only to listen to what the other person is saying, but you also need to understand where he is coming from.
2. Be a good leader. You need to take risks, but calculated risks at that. You should be able to get everyone moving, and inspirehim or her to do his or her best. Be a role model and walk your talk, and everyone else will follow suit.
3. Be sociable. Go out of your way to talk to people. Say “Hi” and ask them how they are doing. If there are lunch gatherings or dinner get-together, join them.
4. Be a good influence. If you know something they do not, share it with them. If someone in your department is not doing well at a particular task, take time to coach this person. In addition, if one of your team members is perhaps having personal issues, if you know this person well enough, go out of your way and talk to them. Maybe all this person needs is someone to talk.
Developing Your Personal Attributes
Your personal attributes include your optimism, integrity, and even your sense of humor. How do you develop these? In terms of optimism, it all starts with your way of thinking. Now this can be quite difficult if you have always been used to negative thinking. But, it is about mind control. Make it a habit to think positively, everyday. Stop yourself when negative thoughts start to creep in. It takes 21 days to form a habit so make optimism a habit, starting today.
Integrity is a principle that every exceptional working individual must possess. It goes by the rules of ethics and it forms a solid character. To be a person of integrity, you must be fair and honest in all dealings, you must never engage in any forms of stealing no matter how petty, and you must always stay true to yourself and to those around you.
Sense of humor, on the other hand, is quite interesting. Yet, it is also not easy to develop especially if you are just starting to work on it. The key point here is to just be yourself and be comfortable with the people around you. Everybody has a sense of humor at some level but fear, lack of confidence, and unfamiliarity with the people around you get in the way.
All you need to do is to learn to appreciate the funny side of things no matter how silly, difficult, or embarrassing; laugh with everybody else; and you might want to practice cracking jokes or telling funny stories by watching funny movies, shows, and clips, and reading funny stories, which you can also share with your colleagues.