• facebook
  • twitter
  • in

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are behavioral reactions that help work more effectively together with other people. And apparently, most jobs in IT require human interaction. Unlike hard skills or expertise, some soft skills are partially innate, but they can also be developed or enhanced, although it often requires more time. Among the most important skills that are necessary to succeed in many spheres in general and in IT, in particular, are communication, teamwork, problem-solving, conflict resolution, negotiation, creativity, leadership, critical thinking, and flexibility. It’s hard to separate them as they are intertwined with each other in the personality fabric.

How are soft skills assessed? The assessment methods are based on behavioral indicators: what to do, how to do it, and what should not be done through the prism of company corporate culture and values. As each company is different in terms of priorities, there can’t be one universal approach. However, the lack of soft skills in team members may lead to irritation, conflicts, failure, and lost opportunities. If you feel you need to improve your interaction with colleagues, clients, partners, you can take a course, for instance, from Udemy, or/and work on your soft skills using the following approach — develop empathy, which, we believe, should be the core of any relationship, personal or business, and reflect on other people’s experiences — and apply those insights and tips that seems reasonable. Below you can find a brief overview of soft skills that are essential for IT jobs and some resources that might serve as food for thought and help you achieve your professional goals.

What is empathy, and why is it the mother of all soft skills?

Empathy is being able to feel the emotions of other people. It’s not identifying with another person; it’s about exceptional focus and sincere interest. A real empath can physically sense the interlocutor’s state while clearly understanding their separateness, otherness. It all starts with the awareness of the borders of your possibilities, your authority, your rights, and your influence. The only way to develop empathy and thus make a step forward in strengthening other people’s skills is to put yourself in another persons’ shoes, understand the motives of their actions, refuse from pressure and manipulation, and think win-win. Ethics, including work ethics, is caring about the benefit of other people. But first of all, you need to identify what is beneficial from their point of view. The obvious obstacle to empathy is egocentrism — constant focus on your own emotions and desires.

How to switch on empathy when contacting another person:

  • 1. Realize that the logic of their requests is focused on their own interests.

  • 2. Your benefit and their benefit may differ, and the win-win approach is the best interaction strategy.

How to switch on empathy when contacting another person

Top 5 Soft Skills for the IT sphere

1. Communication

Communication as a skill consists of two cornerstones — presenting your ideas — being able to explain your point of view, diplomacy, etc., — and listening. According to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by a world-famous author and educator Stephen Covey, empathic listening and trying to understand another person’s perspective is even more important. Many people listen autobiographically — agree or disagree with what they hear, ask questions from their own frame of reference, give advice based on their experience, and interpret motives based on the personal system of values. The author explains how to gradually break this paradigm in his best-selling book.

How to build a dialogue to understand somebody’s concerns? One way might be to not ask directly, use suggestions, and watch the reactions, both verbal and non-verbal, as a major part of human communication is done through body language.

Books:

Stephen Covey The 7 habits of Highly Effective People

Courses:

Communication Skills for Engineers Specialization from Coursera

TED talks:

Julian Treasure: 5 ways to listen better

Celeste Headlee: 10 ways to have a better conversation

Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree | TED Talk

2. Teamwork

What does it mean to be a team player? It’s the ability to be open to other people’s opinions and provide your own constructive feedback, compromise; the understanding that other people rely on you and their result depends on you, as well as yours depends on them.

Courses:

Teamwork Skills: Communicating Effectively in Groups from Coursera

TED talks:

Amy Edmondson: How to turn a group of strangers into a team

Patrick Lencioni: Are you an ideal team player? | TED Talk

Jim Tamm: First step to collaboration? Don’t be so defensive!

3. Problem-solving

Problems are a natural part of any working process, and it’s your reaction that defines how effectively you can handle them. Controlling stress, being proactive, getting off the beaten track, being able to find non-standard solutions are extremely valuable skills in the modern world. Educating yourself, constantly extending your area of expertise, also helps to find a fresh perspective.

Courses:

Effective Problem-Solving and Decision-Making from Coursera

TED talks:

Susan David: The gift and power of emotional courage | TED Talk

Top 5 Soft Skills for the IT sphere

4. Creativity

Creativity powers innovation, and innovation is what often wins in business competition. Nurturing your natural curiosity and overcoming the fear of failure are two steps towards higher creativity. Restraining your self- criticism, finding new sources of inspiration, and writing down all ideas, even the craziest ones, might also help you in this way.

Courses:

Creative Thinking: Techniques and Tools for Success from Coursera

TED talks:

Tim Hardford: A powerful way to unleash your natural creativity

Rahaf Harfoush: How burnout makes us less creative | TED Talk

5. Leadership

Although leadership is the complex of skills that are not required for every position, it is essential for career growth and gives you a great competitive advantage even if you are not interested in moving up the career ladder. It’s the ability to inspire, see people’s talents and potential, take responsibility, resolve conflicts. While natural charisma is an indispensable trait for any good leader, many of the above-mentioned skills can be enhanced through focused effort.

Courses:

High Performance Collaboration: Leadership, Teamwork, and Negotiation from Coursera

Managing the Company of the Future from Coursera

TED talks:

Simon Sinek: Why good leaders make you feel safe | TED Talk

You may also like

Contact Us

Get in touch with us
  • Hanna Bey
  • Client Partner
Name
E-mail
Message

Blackthorn vision

Since 2009, we've been assisting technology companies to build and improve their software products. We help to scale tech teams, deliver projects on time and within a budget, develop ideas from initial concepts to a final product.

Contact us