In today’s contemporary workforce it simply isn’t enough to offer employers A-grade qualifications, ample experience and plenty of enthusiasm.

Employees must also arm themselves with a hard hitting soft skill set that demonstrates their aptitude to deliver an all-encompassing performance that fosters productivity, profitability and healthier working environments.

So what can you do to develop soft skills?

To help you out we’ve put together a brief guide to mastering the art of soft skill development.

Work on communication skills

  • The ability to effectively communicate with colleagues, customers and vendors is an integral part of developing a strong set of soft skills.
  • Start by making a conscious effort to become aware of what others are thinking and feeling when you’re engaged in communication.
  • Speak in a clear voice while simultaneously being away of your volume and pace.
  • As well as oral speaking skills you should also work on your flair for effectively communicating in written form, as well as non-verbal channels such as open body language. This includes acknowledging presence by making eye contact, showing interest by sitting up and leaning forward, opening up by avoiding crossing the arms and resisting the urge to fidget and look bored.
  • If you want to really build trust you can even try mimicking their body language.

Listen up!

  • Listening is an important part of every soft skill set.
  • It may sound easy enough but it actually requires self-discipline, focus and patience. However the payoff is well worth it as you’ll be able to develop a better understanding of instructions, empathise with individuals and make better decisions based on a thorough comprehension of a situation.
  • To enhance your listening skills try paraphrasing content that’s relayed to you and asking questions to confirm you’re on the same page.
  • Take notes when necessary and never interrupt someone while they’re speaking.

Build stronger relationships

  • A strong set of interpersonal skills is vital to any well-developed soft skill set.
  • Employers find them particularly valuable as they foster effective teamwork and collaboration within a staff base.
  • As well as building professional relationships with colleagues take the time to get to know them on a personal level. Say hello when they enter the office, invite them to lunch, have a chat in the coffee room and make an effort to attend corporate events.
  • The ability to manage conflict is critical so be sure to avoid gossip and approach any issues with discretion and an open mind.  Rather than go at it head to head, work with individuals to develop a collaborative solution.
  • As a student there are plenty of opportunities to work on developing soft skills.
  • Embrace any opportunity to work on them, whether it’s with fellow peers, study groups, professors, friends and family or colleagues.

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