Dhruva was six months into her new job in a tech start-up when her supervisor called for a meeting. While she was performing well and her deliverables were being submitted on time, Dhruva was very quiet during meetings. The supervisor wanted to make sure she was settling in okay and address her concerns, if any. Dhruva told her she was enjoying the work and had no problems as such. She was just shy and preferred to keep to herself.
There’s nothing wrong with being quiet, but to progress in a modern organization, sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zone. While it may not be easy, it’s possible. This is where soft skills in the workplace come in. But what are soft skills? How are soft skills and hard skills different? How can you use them for maximum impact?
Soft Skills And Hard Skills
Soft skills are that group of skills that can lead to success in the workplace—and in life. All of these skills are important to a career. They include the ability to communicate effectively and collaborate well with others, emotional intelligence, time management and more.
Hard skills, on the other hand, offer specific knowledge—mathematical, musical, technical, linguistic and so on—needed to perform a particular job well. They’re the kinds of skills learned in school or college—math, English grammar, software engineering and video production, being just a few examples. Hard skills are taught and learned by watching and reading, or even by doing practical exercises. For example, you might learn a computer program by building it yourself.
Hard skills depend very much on your industry and areas of interest, while soft skills are universal.
For instance, a surgeon needs to have detailed knowledge of human anatomy and advanced surgical procedures. The editor of a website needs a strong grasp of grammar and how to fact-check. They will both need to know how to work with a team and complete tasks on time.
Examples Of Hard And Soft Skills
Everybody is skilled in some way, and they usually already have some soft skills and hard skills up their sleeves. Some people are gifted with organizational and time management skills, or with communication skills that make them great collaborators. It’s possible to learn to plan ahead, excel at systems thinking, be good at communication and be a great team player.
Here’s a list of hard and soft skills you might encounter in the workplace:
Operating industry-specific software
Running pay per click ads
While the list of hard skills is possibly infinite, with new skills being added all the time thanks to changing technology, the list of soft skills is finite. But the good news is, they can all be learned. In that respect, there’s no difference between hard skills and soft skills. Though some skills might be harder to improve than others.
Soft Skills And Hard Skills: Which Is More Important?
The difference between hard and soft skills might be best illustrated with an example. While knowing the rules of language is a hard skill, using words to communicate is a soft skill. Which is more important?
Both soft skills and hard skills are equally important in most careers.
Soft skills are only considered ‘soft’ because you can’t really see them, while hard skills are tangible and easy to quantify. But if you think they don’t have real-world results, you’d be wrong. They benefit the employee who’s better able to work effectively and strategically and thus achieve team and organizational goals. This impacts the bottom line of the business.
We shouldn’t be thinking in terms of hard skills vs soft skills. We should instead concentrate on hard and soft skills. For progress in a modern workplace, employees need both.
Hard And Soft Skills In Action
Here are a few more examples of soft skills and hard skills:
Knowing how to treat water to make it safe is a hard skill. You need soft skills to use that knowledge to step in during a natural disaster and make sure people have enough water to drink.
If you know all the main computer programming languages, you have excellent hard skills. If you’re able to solve your client’s customer-service problem using them, you’ll put several soft skills such as listening and communication to use.
Using hard skills in finance can help turn around a loss-making business. Strong soft skills allow you to make the staffing changes needed without causing distress to your workforce.
Benefit From A Career Boost
Now that we’ve covered the difference between hard skills and soft skills, the most important thing to remember is all skills work together to create the most impact at work. With Harappa’s Compelling Communication Program, employees across functions can improve their ability to get the point across in a concise and powerful manner. Storytelling, mind-mapping and public speaking techniques will help them be more persuasive and clearer. They’ll learn the Pyramid Principle and the Power of Three, useful concepts that’ll improve communication with practice. Communication is a soft skill that will reap rewards in every sphere of life — it’s never too late to improve.
Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as What Are Soft Skills, Best Soft Skills For Resume, The Importance Of Soft Skills & Most Important Soft Skills that will help organizations tap into their employee’s potential.
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