How do we know that we are good at something? What are the parameters with or by which we measure our success? What set of skills are needed to succeed in our respective fields and careers? Accountants need to be good at math, doctors need to be versed in new and latest medical research. Having extensive experience and highly developed technical skills however, is not all that it takes to succeed. I am not saying that these are not crucial factors for professional success but no matter what area of expertise we excel in, we must be fluent in the language of soft skills – or as we commonly call it, People Skills.
Good people skills can be defined as the ability to listen, to communicate and to relate to persons on a personal or professional level. It can also be broadened to encompass problem-solving abilities, having empathy for others and having the willingness to work as a team toward the common good.
Good people skills is not being able to talk to people. Many people have an abundance of words. They are fluent in their vocabulary, expansive in their diction, but they lack the ability to connect with people. As human beings, we crave connection. That’s how we are wired, that’s how we were built. Its innate, we could not extricate ourselves from that aspect of us, even if we tried.
This desire to connect transfers to the office and work life; people want to connect on a human level at the office. The alternative to that is a sterile and clinical environment where productivity and innovation will undoubtedly be stifled. This by extension will hinder the success of the organization.
In most cases leaders with strong emotional intelligence and people sensitivity are those who make the best leaders. This goes a long way in mitigating conflict and reducing bad behavior in the office. Energies are contagious. If you exhibit a positive approach, an empathetic spirit and genuine care for people those around you will be affected in like manner.
Although this cannot be measured, it goes without saying that the level of success you can achieve in your career is very dependent on it. This truth is doubly important if you are in a managerial or leadership position or role. Wise managers and leaders know that they need a team with strong people skills. They understand that these skills give way to build trusting relationships which bodes well for individual and corporate success.
The importance of having solid people skills transcends industry and profession; so, whether you lead people, aspire to lead people, or work within a team of professionals, you need to apply people skills to achieve your objectives. Having good people radar is harder to teach than technical skills, but is a requisite for long term, effective leadership. People skills are often the most underappreciated areas of career development, but it holds as much significance as book smarts. Be careful that you do not neglect it in your journey to professional and individual success.
Contributor: Nelisha Francois