You may be good at what you do, but these are the skills you need to move to the next level.

6 Soft skills that can help you grow in your career

School teaches us a lot, but it often misses out on a range of critical ‘soft skills’. Soft skills are what tend to differentiate a great employee from a bunch of good employees. They don’t have much to do with your qualifications and are based more on your personality and attitude. 

Irrespective of your job role or industry, these interpersonal skills allow you to build relationships, create opportunities for career advancement, and gain visibility. Here are the 6 key soft skills you need to be successful at your workplace:

1. Communication

Who do you need to interact with at work? Co-workers, clients, vendors, customers, or employers? Often, it’s a mix of multiple stakeholders, and if you can communicate effectively, you can meet your goals efficiently and build good relations. The following are important aspects of communication:

  • Listening patiently and attentively
  • Employing the right tone
  • Speaking at the right time
  • Giving proper context
  • Establishing clear expectations
  • Writing coherent emails and reports

Pro tip: Seek out people at your workplace who communicate flawlessly and observe how they do it. Read self-help books such as How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and be mindful about the conversations you have. 

Related: Offbeat career options for the modern woman 

2. Negotiation and persuasion 

As you climb up the corporate ladder, you will realise a lot of your work is about getting other people to get their work done in the way you want and at the right time. Skills like negotiation and persuasion are an extension of good communication skills. Building these skills will ensure that you never get the short end of the stick – whether it’s negotiating for a raise with your boss or setting a project timeline with a client. 

Pro tip: While negotiating, it’s important that all parties involved gain something and nobody feels they are missing out. Otherwise, there’s a risk of permanently damaging a professional relationship.

3. Teamwork

A company meets its goals when its employees collectively work towards it. Teamwork is another essential soft skill to have. It shows your manager that you can get along with others – even if you don’t always agree or see things the same way – and can get the job done. Collaboration and emotional intelligence are two aspects of teamwork that go a long way.

Pro tip: One important thing to remember is to know how to accept feedback without internalising it or feeling bitter. There’s always room for improvement; you should take feedback positively and be better at your work. 

Related: How to make your career switch a breeze

4. Flexibility 

Things don’t always go as planned, and there could be deviations. Hence, it is important to be flexible and adaptable at work. When there’s a deadline that needs to be met, you may need to stay back in office till late. When another team is struggling with something, willingness to help them out would be appreciated. This shows that you are willing to go the extra mile to contribute to the organisation when required, without creating a fuss. 

Pro tip: It’s important to strike a balance, however, and not always say ‘yes’ to everything. Or you might be considered a pushover, and some colleagues may offload their work on you because they feel you won’t say no. 

5. Problem-solving 

The ability to keep your cool when things go wrong and come up with creative ways to fix problems is an essential skill. Thinking out of the box, looking at things from an analytical view, and critically evaluating situations will make you a top performer. Working on your problem-solving skills will help you navigate unforeseen circumstances and arrive at solutions that elude most people. 

Pro tip: Don’t approach your manager with a problem, but with a solution. When a problem arises, first think about ways you can address it and then bring the matter to your senior’s attention. 

Related: 7 Steps to help pinpoint the right career choice for you

6. Leadership

In addition to possessing the above soft skills, a leader is someone who has a clear vision, is confident, and is able to motivate and guide their co-workers and subordinates. Not everyone can take on leadership positions because with great authority comes great responsibility. 

Pro tip: You can exhibit leadership qualities even if you’re not in a high position. You can influence your co-workers positively, help them when they need you, and not be afraid of taking responsibility for your actions, even if you’ve made a mistake. 

These soft skills can significantly help you advance in your career and you’ll notice a change in how you manage your work, time, and people. Don’t try to work on all these skills simultaneously or you may feel overwhelmed. You may be inherently good at some of these skills – say, communication. So, pick that skill first and build on it. The rest will follow. Look for these 5 Warning signs that will tell you you need to take a career break.