Soft Skills, improving skills, hard skills, building relationships, ted talks, communication
SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 14 December 2016
Improve Soft Skills? It's only a 2-step Process
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Shannie Cheng

Philadelphia

Soft Skills is are defined as a cluster of personal characteristics involved in building relationships with other people. Or it can be a term that is associated with another term-- “EQ” (Emotional Intelligence Quotient). While the term “Soft Skills” is ambiguous, examples of specific soft skills such as communication skills, problem-solving, leadership skills, creativity, and decision-making are even more ambiguous as they sound like. Well, it is really the ambiguity that differs soft skills from hard skills since soft skills are not standardized and not measurable. 


For measurable hard skills such as mathematics, improvement and achievement are measurable; they can be reached by doing more exercises and express all variables into a formula. But soft skills is are different. Soft skills are similar to walking. How can a person get an A for walking or a F in “Walking 101”? Therefore, there is no such thing as a formula that can be used for soft skills. Not to mention using it for all situations. 

 

Just like walking, the only way to improve soft skills is this 2-step process, Learn-and-try or Trial-and-error.

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LEARN. 

The prerequisite before you start trying and failing is learning. Learning hard skills is looking at old and similar problems and examples. Similarly learning soft skills also requires looking at old problems and examples. Those examples and problems are shared by other people. While hard skills are usually taught by teachers in the forms of lectures, textbooks, soft skills are usually expressed in many different forms such as autobiography and speeches. TED talks, the biggest platform for thought sharing, is a good “book” for you to look at other people’s examples, their problems, and their solutions. A smaller but more direct thought-sharing is talking to peers. 


Platforms such as ProSky are a good place to learn. Real-life classes offered by ProSky enables you to learn real-life problems; in addition, blogs posted in ProSky are direct suggestions for different problems you have encountered. There are also many blog posts describing problems encountered in the job market and resume writing, which gives you a brief description of the problems you may encounter. A smaller but more direct thoughts-sharing is talking to peers. Talking to peers allows you to get a right-away feedback and suggestions from them. Learning through thoughts sharing allows you to absorb others’ experience as knowledge. Furthermore, it is important since it prepares you for the next step.


TRY.

The more important step in this whole process is a trial. Already established a firm foundation from getting a sense of possible problems you may encounter, watching videos of successful entrepreneurs sharing their experiences, and getting advice from peers and friends, you are ready to try it on your own. 


Attention newcomers! Before you are out in the field. Please remember what I have said. The foundation that you have built is only a guidance, problems you are encountering now are only similar to those you have seen. But do not underestimate all you have seen and heard since they will become part of your instinct when you do not what to do. 


The first step is always hard just like walking the first step when you were a baby. Take the first step with courage and bravery. After the small accomplishment you have made, the second step and the third step will be easy. Take language skill as an example. Only when you first step up and say hello will you know that you can communicate. What comes after the first step is either panic or joy. Take the success in the first step as the booster for you to go further. Take the failure in the first step as the worst you will experience from now on and start without panic. 


Reflect on every step that you have taken. If you are tripped by a little rock, mark and remember it so that you will not be tripped by a rock again. This is trial-and-error. When you fail at one step, reflect on it so that you will not fail at the same spot. That is how we know that do not step on a banana peel because it is slippery; rainy days will make the street more slippery so walk with caution. These are all the tips we have known from trial and error. But don’t be scared of failure since what you have gained are experiences. Experiences help you build a firmer foundation for you to go further.  


After knowing all the process of improving your soft skills, it is time to try it out. I have mentioned that looking at others' reflections and experiences is a good way. Check out TED talks with different successful and passionate people talking about their experiences. Another way of improving is definitely looking at blog posts and articles. Check out ProSky blog posts! There are a lot of helpful tips for workplaces such as 7 Ways any College Student can Become More Employable this Summer. Don't hesitate and take action!