Robert Half International, the world’s largest staffing firm, conducted a recent survey which shows that of all the qualifications needed by employers for IT professionals, soft skills rank 2nd, with 32% rating.
Although it cannot be denied that IT professionals should have excellent technical skills to perform their job well, we should also realize that these skills can only take you so far. Spending all eight hours glued to your computer is not going to bring you recognition and fulfillment in your work. You may have several certifications on your sleeve, but if you cannot even be confident enough to speak when in the presence of others, who will know how great you are?
How can your superiors recognize your potentials if you do not know how to effectively deal with people outside your department? In addition, if you do not even know how to communicate well and relate with the people you work for and work with, not even bothering to share a laugh with your colleagues every once in a while, what a dull, boring work life that would be!
“Interpersonal skills” is one’s ability to create a good impression on the people in your organization, by relating well with others through interactions and social communications. Here are some ways you can improve your interpersonal skills:
1. Show a friendly and warm personality. Smile at the people in the workplace, even if you do not know them well. Maintaining a sunny disposition will attract others to you.
2. Avoid complaining. When you complain, you will create the impression that you are a “can’t do” person instead of a “can do” person. If you have nothing good to say, then better keep your thoughts to yourself.
3. Laugh. Injecting humor will help you develop friendships with the people you work with. Laughter also lightens a rather sullen atmosphere. Do not be afraid to crack jokes just because you think they are not really funny, or try to be clever. As long as it is not offensive to anybody, there is nothing wrong with it.
4. Listen and pay attention. When your superiors and colleagues know that you are always willing to listen to what they have to say, they would be more willing to open up to you. Paying attention means that you actually “notice” others and respond accordingly. If someone said something nice to you, appreciate it. If somebody said “Hi,” take time to exchange friendly words with this person.
5. Praise and encourage. Many people make the mistake of only noticing the bad side of others. Do not do the same thing! Discover other people’s strengths and praise them sincerely. Encourage others to do their best so that they will be more motivated to work.
“Communication skill” is something not everyone is gifted with, and this is particularly true for IT professionals. The good news is that while some people have natural abilities to communicate effectively, this is still categorized as a skill, which means that you can learn and develop it. How do you improve your communication skills?
1. Develop confidence. One of the things that actually hinder you from communicating well is the lack of self-confidence. You need to get over this and start believing in yourself; muster enough courage to speak up and socialize.
2. Listen. Communicating is not just about you talking, it also means that you should learn to listen. This is easier said than done though. Make sure you take time to listen to what your colleagues and superiors have to say, to get a complete understanding of their message.
Take note that when people realize that you are actually interested in what they have to say, they will also be interested in you and what you have to say.
3. Keep it light. Humor is always something that keeps a conversation going. Use it to your advantage.
4. Keep your message clear and simple. Remember to keep it short and simple? You should bear this in mind, and avoid using complicated and vague words that will only confuse your listener.
5. Show sensitivity and politeness. You should be mindful of what you say and see to it that you do not offend anybody. Also, use polite words and body language, always.
Grace under Pressure
In school, there was no proper training on how to handle pressure. We delved too much on the technical stuff, and though this is not necessarily a bad thing, we missed out on other important aspects such as how to be productive and motivated even when facing a lot of pressures. To do this you need to:
• Know how to prioritize
• Keep a positive mindset
• Maintain your energy
These are the three most important soft skills that you need when you are in the IT field. Just because you are a technical person does not mean you do not have to be a “people” person.