soft skills  Not many will argue with the statement that our economy is primarily knowledge based. Nor will they argue with the fact that technology is a huge help when it comes to marketing, networking and sales.

It adds to our ability to communicate and collaborate with fellow employees worldwide and has enhanced our introduction to foreign countries and other ways of life that up until this time, we were unfamiliar with.

However, amid all of these added benefits are a great number of losses, skills that, even in today’s way of life, are extremely important both for social and business reasons. These are our soft skills: our people skills or emotional intelligence. While experience, expertise and knowledge are always needed in any position, a lack of soft skills can be the deciding factor in whether or not you succeed.
How often do you notice the following in employees while shopping or speaking on the phone? They are constantly “overwhelmed”, lack manners, they are impatient and awkward while carrying on a conversation. Many have the inability to communicate face to face and avoid eye contact. They prefer to communicate through text or social media.

One of the most valuable skills we can have is the ability to relate to others in a positive manner. The more we confine our communications to text or the internet, the more we lose the ability to “read” other people, to have an actual one on one conversation with them and because of this, we also lose the ability to help our customers to the extent that we should be helping them.

The lack of patience and confidence, the obvious frustration and lack of self esteem that is occurring more often; the unreliable employees who can’t be depended on and their unmotivated behaviour, can quite often be traced back to the overuse of technology and the underuse of their actual human skills, those where they communicate with others face to face or through speech and exchange ideas. This used to be called a conversation.

Integrity used to be based upon reliability of one’s word, their professionalism, positive attitude and work ethic. While these haven’t disappeared, they are much more difficult to see when we let our social skills lag. The ability to adapt, the willingness to teach and mentor; these are all basic human skills that have been in existence for thousands of years. Allowing technology to do our communicating for us is a step backward, not forward.

Success in all businesses, whether small or large, will depend on your ability to listen and empathize, to be enthusiastic and confident. Try to be aware of what is happening outside of your own small business by sharing ideas and your thoughts through actual conversation. Don’t let your soft skills wither and disappear. The quality of your life will improve through using them.

© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2015

image courtesy of educationalservice