Are you developing your soft skills?

Most common question I get asked

My candidates and clients often ask what further education they should undertake. Majority of them have science qualifications and are thinking about broadening their horizons and increasing their employability. I always like hearing that! As it is a sign that the person is driven and wants to use their potential.

In the past, I used to suggest various business, management, marketing and even project management qualifications. Whilst it is important, over the time I have realised that there is one more thing that is even more important and sets people apart. It is your social skills, EQ (Emotional Intelligence), so called soft skills!

Take Richard Branson for an example. One of the richest people in the world and he was a school drop out! But, boy he can inspire people! There is obviously more to it and that is his entrepreneurial mind! I am not going to explore that in this article. Since, it is a topic for a week or two of intensive training!

I will rather focus on how you can quickly develop your soft skills.

So, how can you increase your EQ?

Let’s have a look at another example. Have you ever met highly intelligent people that had very poor social skills? High IQ but low EQ? You might have seen the movie The Social Network about the founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg.

We don’t live in isolation. We deal with others our whole life. There is no escape! Some people like us more, some like us less.  So, wouldn’t be worth the time and effort to work on improving your EQ since it would improve all your relationships? Besides, that’s what helps you to get a promotion or even a new job. And that’s what gets assessed during a job interview and a performance review. I am sure that most managers would now raise their hand here and say “Oh, no, I always assess the hard facts!” Yes, but only to an extent. If you like the person that sits in front of you, you will be more lenient and you are likely to rate them better than someone who has not established rapport with you.

Rapport? What’s that? Well, when you have built rapport with someone it means that you both are in a state of trust and responsiveness. For example, this comes naturally to excellent sales people. But you can learn it too. There is a catch though! It has to be a win/win situation. If you are insincere and try to manipulate the other person, the trust and the relationship itself will be short-lived.

“OK, give me the meat”, you say now. There are various techniques you can apply. You can match or mirror people’s posture, gestures, breathing rhythm, or even some phrases or words they keep saying. Give it a try, first in a non-threatening situation. At home or with friends. Do not tell them about it and see how quickly they respond. If they discover what you are doing then you were not doing it a subtle way and you have to practise more before you can try it on your boss!

A word of wisdom before you go

There are so many opportunities in our life where you can use the above techniques and improve your world and have a positive impact on others. However, there is one thing I would like to mention here and that is the Ecology of Outcomes. It is a study of consequences. Whatever you do when you have a play with these techniques make sure that it is good for you, good for others and good for the planet.

Play wisely! ‘cause you will get what you put in!



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