How to Improve your Soft Skills

What are Soft Skills?

Learning how to improve your soft skills is one of the most important tasks you can undertake. That’s because soft skills are essential life skills that you cannot do without. You need your soft skills in order to survive.

Soft skills are personal qualities that you display such as being able to communicate, being responsible, dependable and a self-starter.   They are also personality traits such as having a positive self-esteem, being sociable, displaying integrity/honesty and projecting a pleasant personality. 

Soft Skills are also personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. These include people skills, social skills, communication skills, listening skills, problem solving skills, time management, attitudes and emotional intelligence.  Your ability to get along with your co-workers, being ethical, adaptable, and a team player is essential to your success.  Soft skills essentially allow you to demonstrate that you are a professional.  So how do you improve your soft skills?

How to Improve your Soft Skills?

There are many benefits to improving your soft skills, including demonstrating a good work ethic and being a team player. Here are 9 steps to improve your soft skills now:

1. Develop a Good Work Ethic

Having a positive attitude and a strong work ethic both go hand in hand. Your positive attitude will increase your productivity which in turn will help you build strong relationships with others. This can be invaluable when problems arise and you need the support of your team members.

As an Administrative Professional, you are expected to make good decisions for your company and act ethically while on the job. Examples of behavior that demonstrates a good work ethic are actually quite straight forward such as arriving to work on time and performing your absolute best in your job duties. Find out more by reading How is your Work Ethic?

2. Cultivate your Communication Skills

Regardless of the industry you work in or the position you hold, it’s essential to communicate effectively with those around you. More than ever in our digital age, it’s important to know how to effectively convey and receive messages in person (verbally) as well as via phone, email, chat, and social media.

As an Administrative Office Professional, you will be expected to communicate externally with your company’s clients and internally with many of the employees of the organization.

Anything that prevents an understanding of what the customer or employee is saying is a barrier to communication. There are many barriers to communication including mis-interpreting information, distractions, not listening properly, inconsistent or negative body language and lack of focus. To learn more about communication skills including the different types of communication, the communication process and how to overcome barriers to communication, read our blog post on Communication Skills for the Administrative Professional.

3. Improve your Listening Skills

Listening is one of the most important soft skills you can possess.  How well you listen will have a major impact on your job effectiveness and ability to do your job. If you develop good listening skills, you will be able to solve problems more effectively and communicate better with others. According to experts, at least half of our time is spent listening. In fact, they say, we listen more than any other activity. Businesses love to hire people who have good listening skills as employees who are poor listeners can cost an organization hundreds and thousands of dollars a year from mistakes made from poor listening habits.

Actively listening and actually comprehending what the customer is saying is a soft skill that can be developed with proper training and practice, just like any other soft skill. Read the 9 Tips to Improve your Active Listening Skills that you can practice on a daily basis to help improve your listening skills:

4. Maintain a Positive Attitude

Maintaining a positive attitude, both in person and on the telephone, is very important in your role as an Administrative Professional.   While you may not have any control over many things that happen in life, you can, in fact, control your attitude by incorporating some positive choices into your daily work life.  Some attributes of maintaining a positive attitude are greeting your clients in a friendly and professional way, learning your job and company well,  being courteous at all times, dressing for success and being ethical and honest. To learn more about the meaning of attitude and to find some positive attitude examples, read our blog post on How To Improve your Attitude Now!

5. Develop Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills

Today’s employers seek candidates with critical thinking skills more than ever before. It has become a necessary skill in the success and profitability of organizations. Many scholars, scientists, engineers and students have used critical thinking skills to solve some of the most biggest and complex problems in the world so as you can see, it is a very valuable soft skill to acquire.

As a busy office professional in the 21st century, you need critical thinking and problem solving skills or you will find it very difficult to do your job and keep up with the demands of the time. The good news is that critical thinking is a learnable, transferable skill that you can take with you wherever you go. A lesson on critical thinking and problem solving skills is taught in the Soft Skills Training course offered on officeskills.org.

6. Practice Time Management Skills

Time management is one of the most important soft skills you can develop as the ability to manage your time and work assignments will not only increase your productivity, but also your satisfaction on the job. Employers today look for people who are able to plan their time effectively. Time management and critical thinking skills go hand in hand as it’s hard to manage your time unless you can critically think out your day.

Assigning priorities is usually one of the most difficult tasks for the office professional and often requires judgement as some tasks can have more pressing deadlines than others. However, knowing the difference between what must be done immediately (most important) and what can wait (less important, routine tasks) will be key to your time management skills. Read our blog post in The Importance of Time Management as your first step in improving your time management skills.

7. Become a Team Player

Teamwork is an extremely important soft skill which ranks up there with communication. In order to be an effective team player, you will need to be able to communicate well with your manager and other team members.  There will be many times in your career as an administrative professional that you will be required to work in collaboration with other administrative staff or employees who are assigned a task or goal for which the team must work together to arrive at a solution or recommendation.

Every team member brings different talents, skills and capabilities to the team. Your manager will be responsible for assigning you a role that fits your skills, abilities and strengths. It would be pointless to assign any team member a task or assignment that is completely outside of his/her skillset. Read more here about about How to Become a Team Player.

8. Become Adaptable and Flexible

Two of the most important soft skills you can develop are adaptability and flexibility.  While this soft skill is a very difficult quality for many people to meet, the dynamics of the work place today is constantly changing, making it very important to understand what it means to be adaptable and flexible. Adaptability is a sought-after soft skill in the 21st Century as it shows that the administrative professional can adapt to new technology trends, ever-changing company processes and customer needs.

Adaptability rates right up there along with other highly desirable hard and soft skills and some employers state that people who are highly adaptable are actually considered more valuable employees than those who are highly skilled but less adaptable. Find out how to become more adaptable and flexible by reading Adaptability – Your Most Important Soft Skill.

9. Be Organized

Organizational skills involve being self-disciplined, setting attainable goals, keeping your workspace neat and orderly and exhibiting professionalism. Having good organizational skills is one of the most important soft skills you can cultivate as they help you manage your workload effectively, stay accountable to your employer and complete your tasks in a timely manner. The good news is that organizational skills can be learned just like any other soft skill with a little planning and organizational awareness. Here are 10 Ways to Improve your Organizational Skills now.

How to Improve your Soft Skills – Soft Skills Training

If you’d like to learn more about soft skills for administrative professionals,  take the online soft skills training course on officeskills.org.

This course is taught in the Office Skills Collaborative Online Classroom. The Office Skills Collaborative Online Classroom is a fun and interactive way to learn Soft Skills. Get the benefit of learning online while being in a classroom environment with an instructor, other students, discussion forums, chat rooms, lectures, presentations and video demonstrations.

Office Skills Author

Author Bio: Dawn Bieser is the Founder, Instructor and Virtual Office Professional with OfficeSkills.org. Dawn has been teaching office skills for over two decades, both in the classroom and on her website, officeskills.org. She enjoys using her skills in education and technology to help individuals improve their effectiveness and efficiency and gain new skills. You can find more about her on her About page.

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