The formula for building successful teams was previously predicated on each member’s work experience and technical expertise in order to collectively execute a defined plan. Today, policy experts, trade groups, business coalitions and academics are citing soft skills as critical to both team and individual performance. In fact, a University of Michigan study revealed that soft skills training boosts productivity and retention 12%, and delivers a 250% return on investment based on higher productivity and retention!
What exactly are soft skills? Whereas hard skills encompass skills gained through education, certification, on-the-job training and similar programs, soft skills are interpersonal—people skills. Soft skills are similar to cues and insights that allow people to “read” others. Hard skills are more easily defined and evaluated. Soft skills such as the ability to manage and control your emotions, communication skills, leadership, adaptability and problem solving are more challenging to evaluate.
In this three part series, we’ll dive into three key soft skills which, once learned and applied, will enable you to prosper both professionally and personally. Let’s start with the ability to control your own emotions and then explore communication and leadership skills in subsequent articles.
Employees who are unable to manage their emotions often ultimately limit their professional growth opportunities; stymie relationships and wreak havoc on their own health. By learning how to handle your emotions, you will be able to:
- Be open-minded for critical thinking. People who lack emotional control typically allow their negative thoughts and emotions to ‘get the best of them.’ It’s practically impossible to focus because they don’t know how to block these feelings in order to critically think and problem solve.
Apply two of Dale Carnegie’s Human Relations principles, ‘Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more,’ and ‘Count your blessings—not your troubles,’ so that negative thoughts will wane. Seething because your co-worker always bails on a big project with personal excuses or feeling angry that you were passed up for a promotion? Negative feelings are natural in these cases. First, allow yourself to feel the negative emotions and then envision yourself putting them aside to focus on what has gone well recently. Consider what is positive every time a negative thought flows so you can stop wasting time wallowing and get back to business.
- Have strong, positive relationships. Employees who react negatively or overly abrasively to stress or unfortunate situations can cause colleagues to avoid them. Their persistent moodiness or the constant cloud of negativity which hovers over their heads can make them appear unapproachable to others. By identifying the triggers that cause feelings of frustration, anger, resentment, fear, etc. and contemplating your responses, you can slowly improve your emotional management. For rapid improvement, consider enrolling in the Dale Carnegie Course for Effective Communications and Human Relations. Participants benefit by learning tried and true tactics for minimizing negativity and maximizing positive relationships.