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Soft Skills That Top Companies Look for Now

Soft Skills That Top Companies Look for Now

When applying for jobs, most of us focus heavily on hard skills. These are the skills that are quantifiable and measurable, like having a certain qualification, increasing sales by X% in your last job, or being able to speak a foreign language.

While these hard skills are important, soft skills, also known as ‘people skills’, are often just as valuable.

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Consider this scenario: You’ve been hired by a company because you’re a skilled computer programmer with a range of qualifications and a great track record. However, you can’t take criticism without getting angry and lashing out at coworkers. Will you last long in the job? Probably not.

Now imagine a programmer who isn’t quite as skilled as you, but is calm, polite, responds well to criticism and solves problems without a fuss. Even though their hard skills aren’t quite as good as yours, they’re much more likely to have a successful career with this company.

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Soft skills matter. Find out how to improve yours below.

The ability to manage conflicts skilfully

Managing conflict is a really important soft skill, particularly if you work in a customer-facing role. Whether you’re dealing with an angry co-worker or an irritated customer, the principles are the same. Stay calm, listen to what the person has to say, show that you understand their point of view, and then propose a solution. Be prepared to compromise if necessary, but don’t let others intimidate you.

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Problem solving abilities

Problems are a fact of life, and being able to solve them makes you extremely valuable to your employer. You can improve your problem solving skills by recalling problems you’ve encountered in the past and reflecting on how you dealt with them. Take the positive things you did and try to repeat them next time something goes wrong. Stay vigilant against recurring issues, like getting overwhelmed by small things or feeling angry when you can’t fix something straight away.

A lot of communication skills

Every job involves communication, so it’s worth taking some time to get this one right. Here are some key communication skills that will help you no matter what your role is:

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  • Active listening. Pay full attention to the person speaking to you, making eye contact, facing towards them, and asking thoughtful questions to show that you’re engaged.
  • Express ideas clearly. Plan carefully before you explain an idea to someone, and try to be as concise as possible. Don’t ramble or include irrelevant information. This is important whether you’re speaking on the phone, face-to-face or via email.
  • Be open-minded. You won’t agree with everyone you meet at work, and that’s okay. Try to stay open and understanding of others at all times to avoid unnecessary conflict or misunderstandings.
  • Confidence. If you believe in what you’re saying, other people will too. Try using positive affirmations, practicing your public speaking on friends and family, and recalling past successes to increase your confidence.

Critical thinking

Being able to critically evaluate information is an essential soft skill. It’s the difference between an employee who reports a problem to their boss and then forgets all about it, and an employee who sees an issue and immediately starts looking for solutions. Looking critically at successes is important too – they could give you ideas on how to grow and improve even further.

Ability to deal with and adapt to changes

Nothing stays the same forever. Be prepared to deal with workplace changes and life will feel much easier. Try to view all change in a positive light, no matter how bad it seems. Maybe being fired will lead to a great new job? Or making a big mistake might show you how you can improve your skills for the future? Every cloud has a silver lining.

Don’t get so caught up in qualifications and experience that you forget to hone your soft skills. These transferable skills will be helpful no matter where your career takes you.

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Eloise Best

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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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