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The widespread use of artificial intelligence in many organizations undoubtedly made the way we live and work more efficient, but this efficiency comes with the need of eliminating human jobs across many different industries, the highly impacted fields would be manufacturing, retail and customer service. Jobs that are mundane and repetitive are highest at risk to be automated away.
Hence, it is crucial that fresh graduates and professionals should start developing skills that automation can never replace, and they are – soft skills. These are the type of skills that will make an individual employable regardless of how the job market and circumstances turn out to be.
It is true that technical skills are important in the workplace and far more learnable than soft skills, but not all hope is lost as any individual can start building or polishing their soft skills such as the ability to communicate effectively, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. These are all significant leadership traits and they are key to a professional’s success.
As time goes by, it is evident that the job market is constantly changing and jobs are ever evolving. In today’s workforce, having one skill or capability is insufficient for an employee to guarantee a successful career, one must possess at least three or more skills in order to survive in this ever-competitive job market.
Here are five soft skills that are most advantageous in the workplace and cannot be automated away:
- Effective communication
Effective communication can be challenging between individuals because we translate messages differently neurologically. Communication is a two-way street; it is about relaying and receiving information. How do we make it effective? The objective of effective communication is ensuring that the intended meaning of a message is being comprehended correctly by the sender and receiver.
We have to acknowledge that we all have cognitive biases. An individual’s perception of reality by nature, is bias. We need to be open to the possibility that in reality, other individuals possess different perspectives and perceptions – in other words, not everyone think like us, that is where effective communication comes into play. The more we have the ability to communicate with different mindsets, the more effective our communication will become.
- Critical thinking
Employers are always on the lookout for individuals who can analyze situations and make informed decisions that are supported with rational and logical thinking. Critical thinking is also useful in data analysis, coaching and mentoring of juniors as well. Studies have shown that employees who often think critically have a strong sense of self awareness and reflection, more independent, competent and efficient in their work.
A critical thinker not only accumulates information well but they are able to deduce important facts and outcomes by connecting ideas to logical thoughts. By conceptualizing outcomes, critical thinkers are said to be better at solving problems than those who just blindly memorize information.
- Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the capacity to understand and manage our and others’ emotions. The skills that are correlated with emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-reflection, self-regulation, empathy, interpersonal skills, motivation and perseverance. It is beneficial if everyone in the workplace starts to embrace the nuances of human emotions in the workplace. When an organization has employees that embodies emotional intelligence, they are better in collaboration, prioritizing team work, better ways of conflict resolution which leads to a more conducive working environment.
Emotional intelligence is intricately blended into the decisions and actions made in the workplace. It could be in a basic instruction for the team, or in a massive organizational/structural change. Therefore, individuals with higher emotional intelligence can easily navigate the workplace more effectively, build and drive successful teams to be agile and responsive than those who have lower emotional intelligence.
- Active listening
The best communicators are not just good at articulating their own thoughts, they are also superb listeners. Active listening can be defined as “giving your complete, intentional focus to what someone has to say, not interrupting someone midway through, and having the ability to hear what isn’t being said by watching facial and body language or reactions.
Active listening is the key to getting the most out of a conversation which allows a person to reap personal and interpersonal relationships. A study conducted by York University found that individuals who “listen to understand” are able to forge better and happier relationships with their peers, colleagues and direct supervisors.
- Great work ethics and moral compass
Work ethics are generally defined as “well-founded fundamentals and principles of an individual”. Ethics are used to determine right from wrong, and it usually dictate our course of action throughout our daily lives.
Characteristics such as honesty, discipline, respect, integrity and accountability are highly sought after by employers. In the long run, having a workforce that encompasses these traits will improve the company’s business and reputation while raising the overall morale compass of employees which will subsequently result in positive returns.
This would lead to increased employee performance, job satisfaction which would shape the organization’s culture and behaviors to include altruism, conscientiousness and courtesy.
Those who wish to become un-automatable should have the ability to communicate their domain effectively and understand the context of who they are communicating with, be it with their team members, direct supervisors or colleagues in the company.
These days, companies look for individuals with strong emotional intelligence as it is essential to develop strong interpersonal skills if they want to succeed in any industry.
Having the right soft skills in the workplace enables employees to communicate effectively, problem solve, work together in teams and organize successfully. The modern employee will have to work on developing soft skills in tandem with strengthening their technical capabilities.
Furthermore, professionals should also strive to be effective leaders, coaches and mentors and build a large network of human connections, in and out of the workplace. Possessing a moral compass will be crucial when artificial intelligence machines start to make morally weighted decisions, but as the saying goes “It is never too late to start now”.