More businesses and managers now recognize the importance of soft skills – they may not be measurable like many hard skills, but they’re crucial attributes that can define the success or failure of an individual or business.
Unsurprisingly, their importance in the workplace means that they can be invaluable beyond the office, too. If you’ve mastered the right soft skills, you can use them to make a huge difference to the rest of your life – to become a kinder person, find more success in your relationships, and get more out of your hobbies.
You’ll probably have already got pretty good at loads of key soft skills in your various positions over the years. We’ve picked out five of the most important that can have a massive impact on your entire personality and explained exactly how they’ll make a difference.
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There may not be a more important soft skill than communication – if you can get this right, it’ll help your relationships with your family and friends, and you’ll do a better job of negotiating business deals, home improvements, big purchases and vacations.
Communication is a big deal, and it’s a broad church. One of the most important kinds of communication is verbal, and you should ensure that you’re able to speak with clarity and confidence, listen effectively, and adapt your communication to fit different situations.
Beyond this, you should ensure that you’ve got top-notch written communication, because you’ll need to express ideas clearly with the written word, too.
There are other kinds of communication to master. You should be able to interpret people’s body language to pick up non-verbal cues, and it’s important to handle your own body language, eye contact and tone of voice.
If you want to delve further into communication, it’s important to be comfortable during negotiations – this will help you succeed when cutting deals and making purchases for your entire life. Conflict resolution skills will help you solve problems, reduce levels of confusion, and reach satisfying conclusions, and if you’ve got good emotional intelligence then you’ll be able to build good relationships and take better care of your mental health.
Making the right decision in the workplace can be a difficult science to get right when it’s based on a mix of data, gut feeling and differing opinions, but it’s the kind of soft skill that can have an impact on your entire life if you’re good at it.
If you can gather information and opinions, sift through the noise to find what’s relevant, and make a decisive choice, you’ll have a greater chance of moving forward with big purchases, significant life choices and even the little things that arise in everyday life.
If you can confidently make decisions and act with decisiveness in the workplace, it’s the kind of soft skill you should rely on outside of the office too.
Leadership and teamwork
Similarly, you should make use of your leadership and teamwork skills in all areas of your life – not just between the hours of 9am and 5pm.
If you’re a good leader, you’ll already be familiar with managing and motivating the people around you, keeping your workload and projects organized, taking responsibility for multiple tasks, and working with flexibility and autonomy. Those are the sorts of skills that can have an impact elsewhere in life, from managing your neighborhood sports team to organizing a family reunion.
Teamwork often goes hand-in-hand with leadership, too, and it’s another critical soft skill. If you can excel at working together with people at work, then you’ll probably have a smoother and more satisfying life with your family and friends thanks to your empathy, communication and collaborative abilities.
Creativity and problem solving
These are some of the soft skills that can have the biggest impact outside of your workplace. If you’re a creative person or encourage yourself to be more creative, then you can develop creative hobbies – whether it’s painting, sculpture, or writing, you’ll feel the benefit of having that outlet.
Being a top-notch creative thinker can help in serious situations, too. It’ll help you pick the best home décor, allow you to come up with better ideas for days out with the kids, and mean you can have great gift ideas at Christmas.
A great creative thinker is usually great at problem-solving, too. When we all know that life is rarely smooth and predictable, being able to solve problems and develop solutions can make life smoother for you, your family, and everyone else around you.
Organization and time management
Life isn’t smooth and predictable, and its chaotic nature means that it’s important to have excellent organization skills at work and at home.
If you are good at organization, you’ll be able to do a better job of managing your day-to-day life. It’ll be smoother, more efficient, and more enjoyable – not least because you can get the boring and frustrating stuff out of the way with less fuss.
Indeed, if you can keep yourself organized and your time managed, you can give each task the focus it deserves, save yourself some stress, and give yourself more time for enjoyable hobbies and family time at the end of every day.
When our time has never been more important or more in demand, that’s one of the best skills you came bring home from the office.
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Mike has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has written for most of the UK’s big technology titles alongside numerous global outlets. He loves PCs, laptops and any new hardware, and covers everything from the latest business trends to high-end gaming gear.