For years the focus of hiring was on individuals that possessed strong technical skills and expertise in their respective fields. Now, interpersonal skills are leading the way into the future: the priority recently is to screen job candidates for soft skills. Also known as emotional intelligence (EQ), soft skills help to set people apart. Unlike “hard” skills, soft skills develop differently and aren’t necessarily taught in places like higher education, which, theoretically, prepares individuals for the job market. Emotional intelligence even has financial gains: according to a 2015 LinkedIn report, people with high EQ make on average $29,000 more than their non-emotionally intelligent peers. Although there is a wide range of skills that fall under the interpersonal umbrella, the following are especially important to your success in the workplace.
Respect is fundamental in developing personal relationships. Although it can be easy to get absorbed in our work and ourselves, take a step back and make a moment for respect. Even the small acts can have a significant impact on the way that others see us and the way that we carry ourselves. Some suggestings include waiting for people to finish talking before chiming in and thanking others for their contribution when they’ve shared an idea. Punctuality is another way to show respect, so show up to your meetings and appointments on time.
A recent study revealed that 48% of employees have felt embarrassed because they didn’t know a coworker’s name. Make it a point to learn the names of your colleagues even if they work in different departments or offices. Try your best to remember what someone has told you when you get to know them. If, for example, they gave a big presentation or had a family event, don’t let that slip from your mind. Ask about it, and try to take a little more time talking about them than about yourself.
This goes in tandem with both interest and respect, and there are three ways to listen: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Physical listening entails reading the nonverbal cues of the other person and responding appropriately. Mental listening means connecting with what others are thinking and getting to the heart of what they’re saying, but don’t confuse this with listening to respond. “Tell me more,” is a powerful phrase that you can use in exercising mental listening. The third and final way to listen is emotionally, which means listening for what others are feeling, and showing compassion and empathy. Ask them about specific events or projects, like, for example, “Do you feel comfortable with this assignment?” It’s a good idea to stay away from general statements like, “How’s it going?” for such a cliche statement will likely prompt an equally generic statement.
Everyone has the capacity to build their EQ with training and practice. These soft skills will not only improve your communication and relationships but your problem-solving skills that can impact your well being and professional success.