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Soft skills are job-related techniques and interactions that help you become a more effective communicator, listener, teacher, and so on. These skills are separate from technical skills that help you accomplish the operations and procedures of your job. Developing soft skills is important to interact more effectively with coworkers, and ostensibly help you do your job more efficiently. To start, it may help to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses when interacting with coworkers and colleagues; this may mean doing a self-evaluation or having someone else do that evaluation for you.
Improving your soft skills often starts with working on your listening capabilities. Listening effectively to others helps you identify problems and successes more quickly and effectively, and it often prevents miscommunication that can lead to inefficiency. A good listener will focus on extracting key information from the speaker; he or she may go so far as to take notes while someone else is speaking. Alternatively, the listener can take mental notes and attempt to recap the main points when the person is done speaking. Many people have a tendency to simply think about what they will say once the speaker is finished, which means those people did very little listening at all.
It may be possible to take a class on developing soft skills if you have trouble doing so on your own. Such classes are likely to help you work on your listening and speaking skills, as well as your social awareness. An instructor may help you learn how to accept criticism graciously and interpret that criticism for self-improvement. The class may also focus on less obvious soft skills such as creativity: engaging your creative mind can help you become a more valuable team member and may help you approach problem-solving differently.
Etiquette and grooming are important soft skills that should not be ignored in lieu of other, more complex skills. Your presentation at work, during meetings, and even outside of work can have a tremendous impact on how coworkers and colleagues interact with you. Do your best to maintain a clean appearance, and try to learn about proper etiquette both in and out of the workplace. Manners can go a long way toward presenting yourself as an understanding and capable individual, and most people will feel more comfortable around you when you present yourself as a clean, well-dressed, and polite communicator.
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