Keith Smith - Think Ahead. Learn More. Solve Now!

Developing Soft Skills

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - by Keith A. Smith

Working in information technology is very exciting to me. It is very rare for me to wake up in the morning and not look forward to coming into work. My technical skills that I have acquired through the 14 years I have been in IT has served me well. At the same time though, we all have other skills that are just as important as the technical skills. Lets face facts here, there are always going to be people who know more than me and who have done more than I have. What sets a successful IT person apart from a non-successful one usually comes down to the other skills they bring to the table.

These other skills are called "soft skills". They are key factors in how you react to situations, talk with people, and approach challenges. Believe it or not, these soft skills say a lot about you and have the potential to make or break your career in the end. The real challenge when it comes to developing these soft skills to work in your favor is that they are so tightly entwined with your personality.

There are many soft skills to develop, but there are three that I have really focused on through my career.

Attitude

Attitude is everything in business. If you are an optimist, can see the bright side in a sea of darkness, and can follow projects through with positivity and vigor, you will be valued as an employee. Compare that with the guy who views a project in a negative light and complains about how the project will fail through the process. If you are a business leader, who would you rather work with? Most people would agree they would rather have the guy who is positive and brings them up as opposed to the guy who brings them down.

Communication

Being positive only helps if you are able to communicate your positivity to the people around you. This counts in not only a verbal sense, but through a written sense as well. Developing this skill requires development in areas like verbal communication, non-verbal communication, and listening skills. This is a soft skill that you develop through the course of your life and career.

Teamwork

Organizations are looking to become more lean. This means they want cross functional teams that have people who are willing to work with others. If you don't play nice with others, or if you view yourself as someone who works better alone, its time to start developing this soft skill.

 
 

If you are looking to develop your soft skills, there are many ways to accomplish this goal. The first would be to find a mentor. This can be your boss, a friend, or a leader that you know and respect. We are all more likely to change the way we think and the things we do when we learn from someone who we look up to. The second way is to volunteer your skills to areas outside of your workplace. Take up a cause such as volunteering at a food bank or other non-profit. There are not only soft skill learning opportunities at these non-profits.


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Direct Link to this Comment Bill Spratt - Friday, January 27, 2017 05:35
Excellent piece Keith - you are spot on with separating yourself from the rest with soft skills. Will carry you not only in career but in life!

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