Published by Gayla Allen, Director of First Impressions
Throughout my career I’ve been drawn to positions that provide an opportunity to meet and mingle with work peers and the public. Still, not all jobs that require people skills are a good fit for me; however, having fun at work while providing excellent customer service is what I call a great day! It’s no wonder that my resume is filled with Client Care positions.
On the surface it may seem easy and to many people like me, it is! However, it takes energy combined with a love for people and an optimistic attitude to carry you through a full day at work.
Most parents can attest to the fact that most of us are not born with these traits. Good people skills are “unnatural.” Just watch two toddlers playing together and the struggle is obvious. Little kids don’t like to share and they don’t like to consider anyone’s feelings but their own.
It took stepping into adulthood to discover that people fascinate me. My best hours were spent asking questions and then listening to people’s life stories, thoughts, and adventures. Spending time with people relaxed and energized me at the same time.
It wasn’t a conscience path to choose client services throughout my career, it just happened. I landed early on that path and never walked away. I took courses to deepen my skills and read books on emotional intelligence, personal development, and soft skills.
I learned that the traits necessary to be successful in my career were:
- To remain calm and effective under pressure
- Empathize with clients and team members in pursuit of the best possible results
- Act with grace in stressful situations, listen and communicate well
- Admit mistakes and learn from them
- Respond well to criticism and show self and situational awareness
With these skills, one can be counted on to build productive relationships founded on trust and respect.
I also learned the following 3 characterizations that define these skills:
- Soft skills are not black and white, unlike hard skills such as math where absolute truth rules. How effective you are at soft skills depends on your emotional state, your surroundings, and the people you interact with.
- This skill is essential to most jobs, careers, and even your relationships since it’s about your inner strength and interpersonal effectiveness. As long as you work with people, these skills are valuable to your career.
- Mastering this skill is an ongoing journey. You can reach a level of competency but you can always encounter new situations or people that will test and push you to learn more.
The hardest part of my journey is another branch in soft skills which is you must also master self-management skills. These are skills that help you manage your relationship with yourself – your inner dialogue. Yikes! It’s part of emotional intelligence which is defined as “the ability to recognize and manage your own and others’ emotions. However, in reality, they go beyond that, and into the wider realms of how you organize yourself and how you approach life,” writes D. Berger.
Interesting thing…this inner dialogue. For me, It’s a constant struggle to make sure my inner conversations are productive. It’s an easy path to give in to negative self-talk and let it compromise my confidence and the joy to be found every day.
But did you know that many people have no such inner dialogue? While that might seem strange to some, it’s equally odd for someone who doesn’t have it to imagine how that manifests itself. I couldn’t wrap my mind around that. So much so that I went on a mission asking my inner circle of friends and family if they had this type of dialogue. Many people said not in the defining form, but the majority did. But that’s another topic!
In summary, our understanding of soft skills affects the quality of our lives because it influences our behavior and relationships. It’s synonymous with self-awareness because it helps us to live our lives with intention and purpose.
Paula Durlofsky, Ph.D. writes, “Many of us move through life making important decisions based on our current circumstances. We may perceive them as being beyond our ability to change, thus limiting our options and solutions. Taking time to reflect and examining why we decide to do what we do enables us to lead lives determined by our conscious intentions rather than circumstances alone.”
Which brings me to my next blog: Living life with Intention.
Opinions expressed by the writer may not be representative of CWM, LLC.