Everybody is talking about it, including recruiters. Whether you are looking for a job or trying to survive your own one, what matters nowadays is having good soft skills, which are actually not so soft, and you will soon understand why (learn more about it).
In the meantime, what do we mean by soft skills?
In the digital transformation era, they can either transform your working experience into an exciting, although complicated, challenge or — if you don’t own these skills — turn your working experience into your worst nightmare.
To make it easy for the Italian people to understand we call them “transversal competencies”, even if this definition is not convincing enough because it doesn’t do justice to its most authentic meaning.
They are called this way in order to distinguish them from the “technical competences”, which are typical of our job and which we learn in school, at university or through experience. Transversal versus Technical. Soft skills versus Hard skills…
But let’s keep on talking about Soft skills. I listed three of them below:
1. UNEXPECTED EVENT: IS IT AN OPPORTUNITY OR A DISASTER?
Whether you like it or not, nowadays nothing is linear anymore. Cheers to complexity! Has planning become impossible? Yes, if you compare it to how we used to do it in the past. No, if you accept the fact that planning right now means having to work on a stricter time schedule, which can mean a few days or even a few hours. It also means learning to conceive a Plan B to face potential problems and to reach your goals. You need to learn to consider unexpected events as an opportunity to discover new ways of doing things. You cannot do something new with old modalities. Hitches actually have a neutral meaning, but we give them a certain meaning based on our previous experiences, on our personality, and on our inclination to deal with them. If we are going towards innovation, towards the unknown, we need to learn to slowly venture into new experiences. The gradual approach is a great method to welcome unexpected events as good traveling companions.
2. WHAT HAPPENED TO SIMPLICITY?
“We all seem to put on a stage, and we all feel compelled to put on a show”, Charles Bukowski.
The ability to simplify is the competence that us recruiters love the most. Let’s face it, we are always looking for common sense and balance not only in ourselves but also in the candidates that we interview.
As John Maeda affirms in The Laws of Simplicity, “to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak”.
What is soft about these skills? Nothing! I dare anyone say that nowadays to simplify is a piece of cake. To simplify means to Decide with the capital “D”, to Choose, to take the responsibility to eliminate certain things and to keep others. In other words, when simplifying you must not exclude the ability to take the responsibility, a predisposition that good recruiter chases and a predisposition that he can sense as a hound.
3. CRITICISM AT ALL COSTS OR CRITICAL THINKING?
We are living in a time that requires us to be clever enough to avoid tricky situations, useless challenges, misunderstandings, while at the workplace. We have grotesque situations that keep on going and disproportionately foment the distance between co-workers; inefficiencies that spread to every level of the organization, whether it’s a horizontal or a hierarchical one, that distract everyone from their true goal.
You need to escape this vicious circle and learn to enable your critical thinking. But how?
Try to find the best solution instead of insisting on demonstrating that you are right. Be aware of your prejudices: you’ll learn to see beyond them, and your priorities will change according to your goals, allowing you to become more focused.
Summarizing: embrace the unexpected by simplifying things and let the critical thinking guide you.
With that being said: how soft could that skills be? Not a bit!
Accept the fact that unexpected events exist–that doesn’t mean you have to feel great about that–and learn how to deal with them.
It’s just a matter of continuous practice. It is hard, and this is exactly the reason why not everybody does it. And when we finally learn it, it changes again. Let’s think about the time when your company changed the management software. For someone it was a tragedy, for others it was an inconvenience. The previous one used to do this and that, it was easier, etc. etc… It felt like a sabotage. Then you learned how to use it and voilà! it magically became your friend.
We are human beings, and even if we think we are acting impartially, part of our being and our thinking is influencing our behavior. We gossip, we praise ourselves, we exaggerate, and we misunderstand. It is human to desire to authenticate our previous knowledge, to claim responsibility for our previous decisions, and to support our previous beliefs, but it’s not useful. By doing so we deny ourselves the possibility to intellectually and professionally grow, without even noticing it.
So, let’s continue to call them soft skills, but, as you have noticed, they have nothing to do with being soft.
Originally published at www.interlogica.it on July 27, 2018.