SOFT SKILLS FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM
Softskills for the new millennium
Softskills for the new millennium
Inthe 21stcentury business environment, soft skills, especially ininterpersonal communication and conflict management are veryessential. This is mainly due to the increased social diversity inworkplaces which increases challenges related to communication andrelations between individuals. In the past, managements inorganizations were more concerned with hard skills in recruitment andselection. This is because the hard skills had a direct impact on theperformance of an employee. However, in the modern environment, bothexperience and studies have confirmed that soft skills are criticalin determining employees’ performance. As a result, there is anincreased focus on soft skills in modern human resources departmentswhere in addition to demand for new employees with enhanced softskills, managements in different organization are organizing trainingsessions aimed at improving soft skills. Additionally, soft skillshave been the basis of awarding employees with promotion, newassignments, bonuses and adjustment of salaries. This is based onthe realization that hard skills without soft skills have no value inthe modern business environment (Banerjee, 2008).
Despitethe increased importance of soft skills, especially in communicationand conflict management, in the 20thcentury, majority of people in the workplaces do not have adequatesoft skills. Studies suggest that soft skills such as problem solvingskills, critical observation skills and conflict resolution skillsdevelop as an individual becomes more experienced (Amer, 2011). Thissuggests that new workers, especially those with less experience havelimited basic soft skills. Despite this, majority of job descriptionin modern organization put emphasis on particular soft skills inaddition to the technical skills.
Themost important soft skills revolves around the ability of anindividual t o communicate effectively. Communication goes beyondsending an email or being engaged in a discussion, it involvedseveral aspects such as how the information is obtained, how thecontent of the communication is organized and how it is presented tothe audience. However, it is important to note that have good softskills in communication does not require an individual to be anexcellent writer or orator. Soft skills are not exhibited byexcellent oratory and writing skills but the effectiveness ofcommunication. For example, an individual may have excellent skillsbut may lack adequate soft skills in finding the relevantinformation. On the other hand, a person may not have brilliantwriting or oratory skills, but soft skills will enable his or herwrite as coherent memo, persuade other people or calmly explain andcontrol team members whenever there is a need (Gulati, 2012).
Softskills in communication are mainly concerned with improving one’scommunication skills, being able to collect and organize informationin communication and building relationships that last. Although thesesoft skills are more critical for individuals in leadership roles,they are essential for all individuals in the society and workstations. Communication skills involve basic concepts such as eyecontacts during face to face communication, body language, writingskills and speaking skills. These skills define the ability of anindividual to present ideas during communication. For example,acknowledging someone’s presence by making eye contact, sitting uplight when in an official meeting, being able to control volume andpace of the sound during speaking or proofreading emails and notesare basic soft skills that influence the organization andpresentation of ideas during communication (Gulati, 2012).
Theability to listen carefully when other people are talking is notalways obvious. Some people have a real challenge in listening toother people. However, this is a very essential soft skill that isnecessary in the modern social and business environment. Listening,even when the content is not interesting or useful is a show ofrespect and self discipline. Nonetheless, through listening,individuals are able to relate well with other individuals and areable to understand the instructions better. In many instances, errorsare as a result of poor listening skills where an individual does notunderstand the instructions well. Conflicts and misunderstandings canalso result from poor listening skills. It is essential to developgood listening skills for several reasons. Nonetheless, essentialskills such as asking questions and clarification whenever somethingis not clear and taking notes, especially when important instructionare being given are very essential. Other listening soft skillsinclude paying attention to body language, avoiding interruptions andbeing respectful (Ramesh, 2010).
Softskills in communication have an impact on the ability of anindividual to collaborate with each other and work in a team. Theability of an employee to effectively work and play well with otheremployees is an essential soft skill. This requires that theindividual be a good follower or a good leader. Other soft skillsinclude being able to work towards a common organizational goal andbeing concerned with deadlines as well as individual and teamprogress. Problems and conflicts will always occur in workplaces andin daily life. This problem may involve the individual directly orindirectly, or he or she may be just a witness. In the modernworkplaces, due to increased diversity, problems and conflicts arevery common. A good workplace is not defined by lack of conflicts butby how the problems and conflicts are solved whenever they emerge(Ramesh, 2010). Even in cases where the individuals are not directlyinvolved in the conflicts, soft skills are necessary in cases wherethey are required to act as mediators. However, employers are notjudged by whether they are engaged in workplace conflicts, especiallyin communication but on how effectively they are able to manage theconflicts. Conflict refers to any form of disagreement between twoparties or a group of individuals. Since organizations are composedof several individuals interacting directly or indirectly to achievethe common goals in the organization, incidences of conflicts arelikely to occur. While soft skills are more applicable and moreimportant in communication, the link between communication andconflicts makes soft skills necessary in conflict resolution andmediation (Amer, 2011).
Inconclusion, in the past, soft skills in individuals were undervaluedwere hard skills were considered more important. However, in theincreasingly diverse and competitive 21stcentury, soft skills have become very important. They have an impacton the ability of individuals to communicate, which includingcollecting ideas, organizing and presenting them. Additionally, theysoft skills play an important role in conflict management, resolutionand mediation. As a result, soft skills have become essential skillsin selection and recruitment. This is due to their influence oninterpersonal relationship in workplaces as well as the generalperformance of individuals. As a result, it is essential for allindividuals in the modern society to work towards improving theirsoft skills.
Amer,B. (2011). NewPerspectives: Portfolio Projects for Soft Skills,Cengage Learning, ISBN 113371546X.
Banerjee,S. (2008). Softskill business and professional communication,I.K. International Publishing House Pvt. Ltd.
Gulati,S. (2012). CorporateSoft skills,Rupa Publications, ISBN 8129128209.
Ramesh,G. (2010). ACEof Soft Skills: Attitude, Communication and Etiquette for Success,Pearson Education.