Having previously talked about the importance of nurturing ‘soft skills’ in the younger generation, I will now discuss how these important attributes can be acquired or learned later in life.
Gaining ‘soft skills’ is not a simple two-hour seminar session; it is more of an ongoing process that requires conscious effort and practice. In part three, I will go through ways in which we can all develop and improve our ‘soft skills’ that will help us in our day-to-day lives.
Here are some tips on how adults can upgrade these vital skills:
Take courses or attend workshops
Many courses and workshops focus on developing ‘soft skills’ such as communication, leadership and emotional intelligence. Attending these programs can provide practical knowledge and opportunities to practice these skills.
We sometimes make assumptions about how others perceive us. Feedback is essential when identifying areas of improvement. Seeking feedback from colleagues, friends and family members can provide insights as to how others perceive your ‘soft skills’. It will also help you to identify areas that require improvement.
Read books and articles
There is a plethora of books and articles on ‘soft skills’ which discuss best practice. Reading can provide additional information and inspiration to enhance these talents.
Join groups or organisations that focus on ‘soft skills’ development
These clubs can provide an opportunity to practice the skills in a supportive atmosphere. For example, joining a public speaking club will help you to develop your communication abilities. The organisationToastmasters is one example that springs to mind but there are many others. Check them out via a Google or YouTube search.
Volunteering can provide opportunities to practice teamwork, leadership and adaptability. Working with a diverse group of individuals, towards a common goal, will help everyone to practice and develop these skills.
Practice in daily life
‘Soft skills’ can be practiced every day. This includes: Actively listening and taking an interest during conversations, or setting goals, or handling conflicts effectively. All three situations will assist a person to improve their skills.
Seek out a mentor
Mentors can provide guidance and support in developing ‘soft skills’. A mentor will offer constructive advice and feedback.
Retaining ‘soft skills’ during adulthood
While it’s crucial to develop these skills during early years, it is just as important to retain these abilities in later life. ‘Soft skills’ should be developed and nurtured throughout life and need to be consistently performed. In many ways it is no different to playing golf or tennis. If you stop playing these sports, your skill level drops quickly.
One strategy is to exercise these skills in various situations. If you have established excellent cooperation and communication abilities as a young person, you should find it relatively easy to apply these same qualities to your personal and professional life.
Join a community group or volunteer at a local charity. You can also participate in a team sport. By continuing education and career development, this experience will help you to maintain and enhance your ‘soft skills’ as an adult.
Attend leadership or communication-focused workshops or conferences. Or you can even sign-up for a course aimed at honing your emotional intelligence or problem-solving skills.
‘Soft skills’ are necessary for success in business, as well as in everyday life. By cultivating these skills as a child or teenager, it should help young people to retain these attributes into adulthood. But, regardless of age or background, anybody can develop ‘soft skills’ through practice, determination and having a ‘can-do’ attitude to learning.