How to Develop Interpersonal and Soft Skills: Guidelines and Resources

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Sections of this topic

    How to Develop Interpersonal and Soft Skills: Guidelines and Resources

    Sections of This Topic Include

    What Are Soft Skills?

    Why Are They So Important?

    How to Develop Soft Skills

    Extensive Resources to Develop Soft Skills


    What Are Soft Skills?

    Some Definitions

    You could read any 10 articles about the most important skills to have in your
    life and work, and you will probably find mention of “soft skills”
    in most of them. Other phrases you would find are “human skills” or
    “people skills”, which are other phrase referring to essentially the
    same type of skills. But what are soft skills? Wikipedia
    gives one of the most comprehensive definitions:

    Soft skills are a combination of people skills, social skills, communication
    skills, character or personality traits, attitudes, career attributes, social
    intelligence and emotional intelligence quotients, among others, that enable
    people to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well,
    and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills.

    Investopedia
    adds:

    In the workplace, soft skills are considered to be a complement to hard skills,
    which refer to a person’s knowledge and occupational skills. … Soft skills
    have more to do with who people are, rather than what they know. … Hard
    skills can be learned and perfected over time, but soft skills are more difficult
    to acquire and change.

    Categories of Soft Skills

    Marisa
    Morby
    suggests two categories, including internal and external soft skills.
    Internals are about how you relate to yourself and include, for example, self-confidence,
    self-awareness, accepting criticism, critical thinking, resilience and a growth
    mindset.

    Examples of externals includes skills in collaboration, communications, interpersonal,
    managing conflict, adaptability, networking, influencing and negotiating.


    Why Are They So Important?

    Trust the Research

    There is good reason for the frequent mention of soft skills, especially in
    the workplace. It is more than just a fad — plenty of research backs up their
    importance. For example, the National
    Soft Skills Association
    cites research conducted by Harvard University,
    the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center. It found that 85% of job
    success comes from having well-developed soft and people skills. The other 15%
    of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge (hard skills).

    The American
    Management Association
    writes “Research conducted with Fortune 500
    CEOs by the Stanford Research Institute International and the Carnegie Melon
    Foundation, found that 75% of long-term job success depends on people skills,
    while only 25% on technical knowledge.”

    Google
    did an internal study about the traits of the most innovative and productive
    groups in the company. They found that the best teams were interdisciplinary
    and included employees who had strong soft skills.

    What Are the Benefits of Soft Skills in Life and Work?

    It improves a person’s ability to:

    • Better manage themselves by being more self-aware and accepting of themselves.
    • Be more resilient and adaptable, especially in complex and challenging situations.
    • Effectively work with others by having the self-confidence to give and receive
      useful feedback and coaching with others.
    • Really understand others by actively listening to them and empathizing with
      them.
    • Deal with interpersonal and group conflicts by fully understanding and accepting
      of other points of view.
    • Solve complex problems by having more effective critical thinking and collaborative
      skills.
    • Be a more effective leader by having more self-confidence and influence.
    • Advance in career development by having more effective networking.

    How to Develop Soft Skills

    First, remember that new learning is new knowledge, skills and abilities. New
    knowledge is information that is useful to you somehow. New skills are being
    able to effectively apply that new knowledge. New abilities are the capacity
    to effectively apply those skills in a variety of situations. So, to develop
    soft skills, you need to practice applying guidelines and materials about soft
    skills, ideally with the guidance of someone who has strong skills in teaching
    soft skills.

    Consider the tips in the following useful articles:

    Skills
    to Pay the BillsMastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success
    Sharpening
    Soft Skills With Situational Learning
    Top
    5 Soft Skills Training Materials for High School Students
    How
    to Identify and Develop Soft Skills
    9
    Ways to Enhance Your Soft Skills

    Also consider forming
    a study group
    in which members can practice their soft skills with each
    other.


    Extensive Resources to Build Your Soft
    Skills

    In the following, we will use Marisa
    Morby’s
    two categories of soft skills. The skills listed in each category
    do not necessarily match those in her article.

    Internal Soft Skills

    Adaptability
    Assertiveness
    Attitude
    Critical
    Thinking
    Growth
    Mindset
    Motivating
    Yourself
    Problem
    Solving
    Self-Awareness
    Self-Confidence
    Stress
    Management
    Work-Life
    Balance

    External Soft Skills

    Communications
    Conflict
    management
    Diversity
    and Inclusion
    Emotional
    Intelligence
    Empathy
    Influence
    Interpersonal
    Negotiating
    Networking
    Office
    Politics
    Teamwork
    Trust
    Building

    Also consider
    Communications
    (Interpersonal)

    Communications
    (Organizational)

    Communications
    (Writing)

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    For the Category of Interpersonal Skills:

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