This is a guest post by Jade Anderson.
No matter the industry you work in or the nature of your job, there are some soft skills that you should always be striving to develop in order to reach your full potential and find professional success. If you work for yourself, as a freelancer or business owner, soft skills are particularly important as finding success requires more than just being good at your job. Success means being able to ensure a steady stream of work and happy customers and clients. However, regardless of whether you are your own boss or not, navigating professional situations requires more than just book smarts. Here are five skills that you should always be developing so you can get to where you want to be in life.
Strong communication skills are important in all aspects of our lives. Being able to clearly communicate your thoughts and ideas to other people is essential in being able to achieve your objectives, whether they be personal or professional. Effective communication means being able to demonstrate to your client, your team, your colleagues or your seniors that you understand what they want and are able to execute the work. It is about actively listening and interacting with others, as well as being confident enough to share your ideas and opinions. Being a good communicator means being able to make your intentions clear no matter what form of communication you’re using, whether you’re talking in-person, over email, over the phone or giving a presentation. Communication skills in a professional environment also relate to being able to market and sell your abilities. Whether you are a freelancer or an employee you need to able to convince others that you are the person for the job. Enhancing your communication skills takes practice and a concerted effort. Short online courses are one way of developing skills in this area.
When it comes to the workplace, empathy can often be disregarded as not being as important as other skills. However, empathy is one of the most important skills that you can develop as a freelancer, a boss, an employee and a human being. Empathy is the ability to recognize how somebody else is feeling and to put yourself in their place and understand their perspective. Empathy is a skill that will help you communicate with your customers and clients, understand people’s behavior in certain situations, manage conflict and relate to others. You can develop your empathy by listening to others and taking the time to reflect before responding to a situation. Think about why that person is feeling the way they are and try and be as caring and kind as you can in all situations.
If you want to succeed professionally, it is critical that you are organized and able to manage your time effectively. If you can’t manage your workload, you will quickly fall behind and your colleagues and your customers will lose faith in your abilities. Being organized will allow you to cope much better with the demands of work, family, friends and other commitments. It will also mean that you can better prioritize your tasks and make more optimal use of your time. You can develop your organizational skills with the aid of different apps and web-based platforms, or by keeping an old-fashioned diary.
Networking, at its core, is about relationship building and being able to use those relationships for reciprocal good. If you are a freelancer it is a particularly essential skill as it is up to you to make connections and find opportunities. However, as an employee, it is also an important skill to develop so that you are able to access relevant information and learn from others. A lot of being a good networker comes from confidence and being a good communicator. It also comes with time and practice, like many skills. Search out networking opportunities, both offline and online, and try to make conversation with those around you and at events as much as possible. You never know where one innocuous conversation might lead!
Jade Anderson is an experienced In-house Editor at Upskilled. With a background in online marketing, Jade has always had a love for the written word. She enjoys being able to combine these skills with her passion for the education industry.