On the ‘softer’ side of your skills

Think for a moment about the students around you if you’re in a class environment. If you’re working, think of your friends, colleagues, seniors or even your bosses. If I told you that you had to lead a team to finish an important project with five other people, for which you would take ultimate responsibility, who would you pick and why?

Which team members would you choose?

  • One potential team member is not really interested in what they do, (they’re only in it for the money anyway!) and people can pick this up about them from your general lack of initiative or interest in improving your knowledge and skills. Another team member is passionate about what they do, researches problems and solutions, and takes a genuine interest in their work. Who would you choose?
  • One potential team member is positive and encourages those they work with, even when things aren’t going their way, the other potential team member complains, blames others and fuels negative conversations when other people start complaining. Who would you choose for your project?
  • If your project involves long hours, intense work, and a deadline, which type of person would you rather work with? The guy who knows everything? The technical genius who can quote theory from memory? The girl who constantly complains about her life, her work, her everything? A colleague who’s a good friend? Someone who may not be brilliant technically, but is reliable and easy to get along with? Someone who constantly has good ideas? How much of your decision will be based on pure technical ability? How much of your decision will be based on whether you feel that you can actually work with the person, and get the job done efficiently and pleasantly?
  • You need assistance with a complicated accounting treatment problem within the project. You have a choice between two people who can help you. One of them is a technical genius, knows all the details and theory but cannot explain to you how to solve your problem, is unapproachable, and only talks in technical jargon. The other person is less technically minded, but can help you understand where your problem arises, why it is. Who would you select?

These examples are a little extreme, and there are elements of all of these personality / behavior types in each of us. What I’m trying to illustrate is how important your ‘softer skills’ are in the workplace. If you don’t have these characteristics while you’re studying… you’re not going to magically inherit them with your first job. If you recognise some traits that may hold you back… work on them now!

Your technical skills and knowledge will always be important, however, don’t underestimate the value of the ‘warm-fuzzy stuff’!

Honestly… would you be someone that your colleagues, friends, boss, study-mates choose to work with?!

 
 
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