Working with hiring managers in several different industries including mining, safety, manufacturing, and health care the one common denominator for skills from the Executive Suite to the frontend office has been soft skills. Yes – soft skills – those skills that require having good to great people proficiencies. Most managers agree that technological skills are taught in higher education or learned on the job. Soft skills on the other hand are a learned behavior that is not typically taught in the workplace.
Soft skills in this case refer to interpersonal communication skills, relating to others, being approachable, having a good attitude, being pleasant to work with, having cognitive or emotional empathy, and having harmonious interactions with others. Mastery of these skills enables a person to engage and influence others.
The person with great soft skills leads with confidence. They are also able to manage stress. Another attribute is patience. By that I mean knowing when to take action steps and when to slow things down until the timing for a change process is more fully aligned.
Having a good work ethic in terms of being present to the situation, with a willingness to learn something new is part of having well developed soft skills. Lastly engaging in business behavior that mirrors truthfulness, has integrity, and is transparent are key aspects of the soft skills toolbox.
It turns out that people with an Arts degree may have the right type of soft skills to succeed in areas that are uncertain and murky. That being the case – here are the soft skills that people with a Liberal Arts education tend to have:
Being curious and willing to try new things. It is speculated about 70 % of working people want to be told what to do and when to do it over and over again. Enter the need for curiosity, and the ability to make up the rules as you along, a strong characteristic of Arts grads.
Decoding or analytic skills. Unpacking systems and processes are what Arts graduates are generally better at than others. Using critical thinking skills developed during the degree courses is invaluable in terms of putting all of the puzzle pieces together into a logical framework. It is also valuable when it comes to unearthing details overlooked by others.
Reading people and communicating. Having empathy and being able to see people as they are is a skill that Arts graduates have in spades. Focusing on what others want and need and then being able to communicate that clearly is hugely beneficial.
What soft skills do find are essential in your workplace? And which team members demonstrate these skills in spades? Are they by chance Arts Degree holders? Do let me know as I am genuinely interested.
Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Consultant – Change & Transition – firstname.lastname@example.org.