According to a therapist and a DEI expert, these six “soft skills” are extremely important in the workplace right now
Many changes are happening in workplaces right now, with the shift to a more flexible remote work paradigm, employees leaving their jobs left and right (called the Great Resignation), and burnout on the rise.
Soft skills can help people deal with these changes and build a safe and inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive.
You’ll need hard skills to do your job, like project management, writing, programming, bookkeeping, and so on. These are the technical skills you’ll need to do your job.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are interpersonal abilities that focus on how people relate to and communicate with one another. There aren’t a lot of jobs that require soft skills, but they are important for both employees and bosses in any job.
A DEI expert and the founder of Kim Crowder Consulting, Jenny Maenpaa, an LCSW, EdM, and the author of the evidence-based workplace health program FIREwork, talk about the soft skills that workers and managers should work on right now in the workplace, and what they should be working on.
Workers should concentrate on learning three soft skills
1. Be open to other people’s viewpoints
According to Crowder, one of the most crucial soft skills to have in a job is trusting other people’s viewpoints on their personal experiences.
“Believing in the experiences, emotions, and interpretations of individuals who have been traditionally overlooked [such as BIPOC, LGBTQ, and disability populations] is especially crucial,” Crowder says.
“This enables us to shift away from asking people who are currently dealing with discrimination to prove that they are experiencing it and instead trust and affirm their experiences.”
2.Pay close attention to your feelings
Many employees believe they should be emotionless robots at work, “Maenpaa explains,” but your emotions can actually be advantageous if you can use them effectively.
She suggests that you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in order to better discern if you’re reacting inappropriately to a work circumstance or if something else is clouding your judgment.
She says that before you respond to someone, you should take a few deep breaths, connect with your body, and let go of any tension.
3. Learn to view criticism positively
Receiving feedback is an important part of every profession, and Maenpaa believes it’s crucial to understand how to accept constructive criticism without feeling as if your worth or value is being questioned.
She adds, however, that this is easier said than done. “Reminding yourself that these critiques are meant to help you learn and improve can help you not perceive them as personal shortcomings,” she advises.
1. Make team members more human
Given the current low retention and high turnover rates, Crowder believes it is a manager’s responsibility to detect when people are retreating and do everything possible to re-engage them.
She argues that employees are more than a means to an end or a pathway to productivity; they are human beings who deserve respect and particular attention.
Furthermore, she says that part of humanizing employees entails remaining informed about what’s going on in the world, as many employees are affected by social injustices on a daily basis. “Managers who are aware of current events can provide assistance without having to ask,” she says.
2. Manage your emotions and assist others in doing the same
According to Maenpaa, managers must control their emotions at work in addition to managing their staff.
“Remember that most jobs are not urgent,” she advises, even if people come to you with a sense of urgency. “They may be urgent or necessary, but rushing to respond to something may cause stress, which will make your employees feel rushed and worried.”
Instead, she says to take a moment to think about the task’s urgency, take a deep breath, and think about how the activity fits into your overall ecosystem before you respond.
According to Maenpaa, managers can also help their staff control their emotions by employing the “yes, and” method, which validates their feelings while simultaneously directing them to take action, according to Maenpaa.
“Remember that most individuals just want to feel seen and heard,” she says, “when an employee is complaining and your first reaction is to jump to a solution.”
Take a few moments to silently listen to their grievances, then offer something like, ‘I hear you.'” What can we do to make this less frustrating for you now that we still have to meet this deadline? “
3. Prioritize cultural competency “
Managers, according to Crowder, must integrate cultural competency into the workplace now and in the future. “Our workplaces are growing increasingly global and varied, both of which are essential for any organization’s long-term survival,” she says.
Managers must be acutely aware that cultural differences will inevitably manifest themselves. A golden skill for any leader is being sensitive and appreciating the worth of it without demanding people to assimilate or conform to the prevailing culture. “