Why do Soft Skills Matter?

Soft skills are different from hard skills (learned skills).  These are personal attributes one needs to succeed in a workplace and are difficult to teach.  Companies look for people who can become leaders that possess these skills and can effectively interact with others.  They look for the qualities that show that an individual must get along well with all the people with whom they interact, including managers, co-workers, clients, vendors, customers, and anyone else they communicate with while on the job.

An instructive example of the difference made by soft skills is a mechanic. A mechanic is required to have an extensive repertoire of hard skills pertaining to the proper maintenance or repair of an engine. But a mechanic who does not have the soft skills of trustworthiness and approachability is not likely to be very highly regarded by their customers.

Similarly, a salesperson who may have an unrivaled and exhaustive knowledge of their market will find it difficult to close a deal and retain their clients if they lack the interpersonal skills and negotiation.

Soft skills are not just important when facing external customers and clients. They are equally important when it comes to interacting with colleagues. Soft skills relate to how you work with others (whereas hard skills relate to you, in isolation, as an individual). Employers value soft skills because they enable people to function and thrive in teams and in organizations as a whole.

A productive and healthy work environment depends on soft skills. After all, the workplace is an interpersonal space, where relationships must be built and fostered. Perspectives must be exchanged, and occasionally conflicts must be resolved.

Key Soft Skills


As a soft skill, communication is not about multiple syllables or rousing speeches. Able communicators can adjust their tone and style according to their audience, comprehend and act efficiently on instructions, and explain complex issues to colleagues and clients alike. Communication is also an important aspect of leadership. Leaders must be able to delegate clearly and comprehensibly.


Like leadership, good teamwork involves a combination of other soft skills. Working in a team towards a common goal requires the intuition and interpersonal acumen to know when to be a leader, and when to be a listener. Good team players are perceptive, as well as receptive to the needs and responsibilities of others.

Positive Attitude

Employers are always looking for someone who will bring a positive attitude to the office. They want employees who will be friendly to others, eager to work, and generally a pleasure to be around. Being able to keep things positive is especially important if you’re working in a fast-paced, high-stress work environment.

Work Ethic

Employers look for job candidates with a strong work ethic. People with a strong work ethic come to work on time, complete tasks in a timely manner, stay focused, and stay organized. They are able to budget their time and complete their work thoroughly. While they can work independently, people with a strong work ethic can also follow instructions.


Leadership is a soft skill you can show even if you’re not directly managing others. Leadership can be thought of as a collection of various other soft skills, such as a general positive attitude and outlook, the ability to communicate effectively, and an aptitude for both self-motivating and motivating others.


Self-awareness is a seldom talked about but highly valued soft skill; knowing when to accept responsibility for any mistakes you have made demonstrates a healthy level of humility, and a willingness to learn and progress.

Critical Thinking

No matter what the job, a valued skill is the ability to analyze situations and make informed decisions. Whether you are working with data, teaching students, or fixing a home heating system, you need to be able to understand problems, think critically, and come up with solutions. Skills related to critical thinking include creativity, flexibility, and curiosity.


Naturally, people can be wary of leaving the comfort zone formed by their repertoire of hard skills. Flexibility is an important soft skill, since it demonstrates an ability and willingness to acquire new hard skills, and an open-mindedness to new tasks and new challenges. Employers often seek candidates who can show a willing and upbeat attitude, since many jobs come with the possibility of secondments.

Negotiation and Conflict Resolution

This is another of those soft skills in potential leaders. To be an adept negotiator is to know how to be persuasive and exert influence, while sensitively seeking a solution which will benefit all parties. Similarly, conflict resolution depends on strong interpersonal skills and the ability to establish a rapport with colleagues and clients alike.

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Why do Soft Skills Matter?

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