Soft skills revolve around personal relationships, character, and attitude. By developing soft skills , you can increase your work performance, build better relationships, enhance reputation and work toward earning a promotion. If you feel that some of these soft skills do not come naturally to you, don’t worry, it’s quite easy to learn how to improve soft skills so that they become a natural reflex for you in dealing with people every day.

Developing communication skills

The goal should be to communicate clearly through written, oral, and nonverbal communication. Start simply by being aware of how others feel when they are around you or are talking with you. Here's how you can make your communication skills better:

·         Make proper eye contact. Acknowledge someone else's presence by looking them in the eye, especially if they just walked into the room or you pass them in a hallway. Look at them when they are talking to you. Do not let your eyes wander around the room.

·         Monitor your own body language. Show interest by sitting up and leaning forward. Resist the urge to tap your fingers or foot. Mimic the posture of the person with whom you are talking to create a comfortable environment.

·         Practice speaking. This includes both public speaking and conversational speaking. Be conscious of your pace and volume when speaking. If you are uneasy in personal relationships, practice with a close friend or family member. If you are nervous about speaking in public, volunteer to give presentations within a smaller group and work your way up to a larger one.

·         Develop personal writing skills. Proofread your emails, letters, and notes. Learn correct spelling and word usage. Vary your sentence structures. Be concise instead of elaborate, no one has time to go into details.

Practice active listening skills

Listening requires focus and self-discipline. We listen for many different reasons: to understand instructions, to empathize with another individual, or to judge whether a plan is good or not. Regardless of the reason you are listening, there are several things to keep in mind:

·         Paraphrasing: Asking questions to learn more about what someone is telling you. This demonstrates interest and focus. It also helps you understand the situation.

·         Taking notes when appropriate: This shows that the subject matter is important to you. Practice taking notes in team meetings or staff training sessions.

·         Not interrupting others: Respect them by letting them finish saying what they are saying.

·         Paying attention to the other person's body language: Observe their posture, tone of voice, eye contact (or lack thereof), gestures, and facial expressions.

Building relationships

Interpersonal skills are important in the workplace, especially since so many organizations are designed around teams and departments. Seek to build friendships with peers, supervisors, clients, and business partners.

·         Befriending those in the work area. Greet them when they get to work. Invite them to lunch or coffee. Talk for a few minutes in the break room as you are getting a drink. Participate in work events like softball clubs, staff lunches, and training days. Stay away from gossip. It only destroys relationships.

·         Learning to manage conflict in a positive way. Address issues with the individual(s) involved in a private manner. Approach the discussion in a nonjudgmental, but assertive manner. Ask questions and try to understand their side of the story. Work towards finding a solution rather than making matters worse by being rigid.

·         Networking with people inside and outside the organization. Ask people about their jobs. Share a bit about what you do. Note connections and ways you could potentially help each other. Exchange contact information and be sure to follow up with them.

Practicing leadership

Leadership is simply influencing other people with your ideas, attitudes and initiatives. As such, leadership skills can be used by any employee at any level in the organization. You can practice the following to improve your leadership skills:

·         Observe seniors. Note how those individuals lead your team. Find positive things that the leader does and emulate them in your own work.

·         Practice leadership in small group discussions. Ask your teammates questions and bring quieter members into the conversation.

·         Set an example for others by displaying a positive attitude in difficult situations. Remain calm in moments of crisis. Talk about concerns one-on-one with your supervisor instead of in front of the entire team.

Taking the initiative

Demonstrate responsibility and enthusiasm for your job by striving to go the extra mile. This starts by finishing work without constant reminders from your supervisor. Other things to keep in mind:

·         Be a self-starter: Do tasks without being asked by someone else. Look around, see what needs to be done, and do it. If a coworker has a large project and you have some time on your hands, volunteer to help.

·         Seek more challenging work. Strive to develop your technical skills. Learn more about your organization. Ask a coworker about their department. Take a class, read a blog, or subscribe to a magazine in your field of work