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Four soft skills everyone should master

Let’s think for a moment, how many jobs out there are not reliant on person to person interactions of some sort? The answer of course, is not many and in some roles, such as HR, they are fundamental. By Paul Russell, managing director and co-founder, the Luxury Academy

Let’s think for a moment, how many jobs out there are not reliant on person to person interactions of some sort? The answer of course, is not many and in some roles, such as HR, they are fundamental. By Paul Russell, managing director and co-founder, the Luxury Academy.

The HR director may have clients, colleagues, customers and contacts that they must interact with in order to achieve their professional objectives, and if the HR director is possessed with soft skills, also known as people skills, their working life is probably a whole lot smoother than the life of the equivalent person without them. The fact of the matter is that soft skills improve person to person interactions, making them easier and more pleasant for everyone involved. So here are the four soft skills essentials that you need in your working life (they’ll undoubtedly help in your social life too).

Learn how to talk to others

OK, so you may read this and say you learnt to talk some time ago, but are your social skills really up to the required standard? Ask yourself, are you perceptive when talking to others, do you have empathy and actively listen to what others are saying? Can you persuade, negotiate and get your point across effectively and diplomatically? Are you able to engage others in conversation and bring them on board with your vision? If the answer is no to any of these questions, the chances are that you need to update your social skills. To get the conversation rolling, remember ARE, anchor, reveal, encourage. Anchor the conversation by sharing something you have in common,reveal something that might be interesting for your conversational partner then encourage others to join in the conversation by asking a question. ARE can help to develop rapport, and the foundation for further discussion of required topics.

Lose the fear

Ever been guilty of perfectionism? If you have, it’s likely that you are also susceptible to social anxiety as you rake over social interactions with professional associates highlighting areas in which you feel that you have failed, or could have improved. Any resulting self-imposed negative assessments can cause further anxiety when you are presented with a similar situation. There are lots of ways to lose the fear from the simple to the more complex; taking deep breaths to calm internal anxiety, training involving role play situations, working on non-verbal communication and approach, plus cognitive restructuring to assist with those perfectionist tendencies.

Pick up a new language

So much of what is said is non-verbal and spoken through body language, and if you’re not fluent, chances are you’re missing out on key parts of the conversation.  A quick crash course? Remember these two things: observation and awareness. Observation of the body language of others and what it is telling you, someone stepping back may be trying to increase their personal space for example (always consider cultural norms), and awareness of your own body language and what you are telling others. It’s highly likely you already know the power of a smile, direct eye contact and a sincere handshake but also think about whether your posture is positive and confident, and how you can utilise mirroring or reflecting to develop trust, understanding and connection.

Commit to connecting the old fashioned way

How many things are on your to-do list today? More than you’d like no doubt. A sad casualty of increasing workloads is the lack of time to make connections with others, it’s often more time efficient to send a quick email but this results in connections that lack warmth and depth. Then if we do happen to meet someone face to face, we’re not fully present in the conversation as we mentally tick off tasks completed and prepare for the next item on the agenda. So the goal here is twofold; firstly in attempting to make more person to person connections, and secondly in learning how to clear your headspace when you’re chatting with someone. Think of it as opening a brand new document that is clear and free to be filled up with new information about the person you meet. Being interested in others is an undervalued soft skill but much appreciated by the recipient. The ability to talk to anyone, read them and engage comes more naturally to some than others but anyone can be a ‘people person’, it just comes down to being interested in others, available both physically and mentally, and open to the process (better get working on those four soft skills essentials). A smoother, more pleasant working life? Yes please!

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