What was the most important “soft-skill” for your career development?

Elphas, which of the "softer" skills - such as aspects of communication skills, presentation skills, critical thinking, problem solving, emotional intelligence, decision making, criticial thiking, time management etc - would you say had the biggest positive impact on your career?

or, to give it another angle, if you had the chance to give an advice to "younger yourself" about which "soft" skill(s) to Focus on developing, what would you say?

super curious to hear your insights :)

rebeccabeck's profile thumbnail
Great question! For me it was realising a growth mindset. I'd always believed I was born with a given intelligence level, without realising that with hard work I could achieve what I wanted to achieve. It was a big switch for me and opened up the world of possibility rather than a world of limited boundaries
Mirna's profile thumbnail
love this!! the first step in developing any skill? realizing it is possible to develop it hihi :) and that it is possible for ME specifically :) the second step then I guess is to get motivated (or inspired) to work in it :) only them comes the part of learning, practice, etc...Thanks for sharing, so happy to hear that you did this big jump in the way you see the world and yourself <3 I am very much looking forward to also here what other Elphas will share :)
rebeccabeck's profile thumbnail
Couldn't agree more. Thanks for starting an interesting thread!
taylorcapito's profile thumbnail
(All of the below is assuming that you’ve already got your vision and mission or project sorted, and you’re now working on the path to get there. I could write an entire essay on the soft skills needed for getting to the right problem. In my experience, though, that’s just the first part, and the skills outlined below help on the longer and more arduous portion of the journey- implementation and execution.)The most important soft skillset in my career is one that I constantly find myself honing and redeveloping, and it’s essentially the reinvention of a classic: empathy, but with a new added twist: mindfulness, and that is enabled by and re-enables: restraint. Restraint is the glue that binds all of this. The first lesson I learned is that, as someone who is often praised for my “passion” (which is true, I become personally invested in things I work on), I needed to grow and hone my restraint. Passion is how I motivate myself, but it can be a double edged sword on its own. Having restraint is important because it allows you to have more calculated and sure outcomes and hone your passion. I often felt this “rush” to answer, but that was because I put an urgency on myself (no one else cared how fast I answered). This is something I’m still working on. But the problem with practicing restraint is first answering “Why? Why should I wait?” And that’s where the empathy comes in. You can’t know an appropriate re-action without first gaining an understanding of the action in question. If the action contains multiple parties, then that’s where their motivation comes into play. To set yourself above and beyond, you have to be able to empathize and decouple their intent. For some, this social skill comes naturally and fluidly, but for me, I stop and think of it as part of an equation and appropriate it to the situation. And that requires mindfulness. You have to think about yourself and the others you’re interacting with and how you and your views fit into the bigger picture. What outcome will various responses and behaviors have? How will x, y, or z behaviors from you influence the behaviors of those particular individuals you’re in an interaction with? (Keep in mind, we’ve begun empathizing to understand their motivations from the beginning). You have a goal, and your thoughts should always be centered around achieving that goal or vision, but you may need to change the path to get there accordingly based on the needs of others and how their wants can join with and enable your needs in order to ensure a greater chance of success. You can build a castle in a million ways and each brick might be different. These are the bricks. You want to build a castle. You can and MUST do it one brick at a time. You can be passionate about a project, goal, or outcome, but without understanding what people want and need, you won’t be able to galvanize them to support you in your quest to get there (or at least step out of the way and let you pass). In a career in tech I have learned two personas that matter the most in this equation: 1. The “gatekeeper”: who holds the keys to the gate, moat, whatever between you and your goal; 2. The “champion”: this is the person, or it could be multiple people, you want to win over first and if you convince them, they’ll be your ultimate proponent and convince others for you. Know who you can win to your corner in the journey you’re on early because you can’t fight a battle alone. Few go that route and win. Change is always a battle, so if you’re working or leading any kind of effort that requires change (which I always did) be prepared to start thinking of it like one. You can’t influence or change the minds of others without first surveying the landscape and putting yourself in others’ shoes and understanding their pain points as much as you can. You learn this via listening but also via asking questions. All of this requires a mindful awareness of the situation at hand. I sometimes visualize myself as a third party observer in the room. If I were a silent onlooker, how would I perceive the situation? We all have gut reactions to things based on our former experiences and knowledge base. Throughout my life, my gut served me well, so I had to learn to step back from it without losing that intuition, but using it as just a piece of the above equation. How do you do that? Listen to others first before responding and weigh their words (empathize if possible, to reiterate the above). Again, as a passionate person, this is a constant challenge for me. Also, the more I know someone already, the more I can afford to make a mistake here because I may already have an understanding of their motivations, but if it’s someone new, then I really want to understand how they think and where we can work together. Here comes the restraint. We first talked about how empathy enables restraint, but restraint and continued restraint and persevered restraint and a diligence and discipline there is what enables mindfulness and growth and the path to a good decision and success. Without restraint, you can’t do any of the previous things I mentioned, and you won’t learn what others want and where you fit into that, which means that, while you may be skilled and get lucky, your path to victory could be tougher and shorter lived. Step back! View yourself and the situation as others would. Listen and weigh this. Then react. Your gut instinct will be to instantly “feed yourself” - this could be a small win, smugness, being right on an argument - but this instinct is wrong. Live life chasing the stag and not the rabbit (“Stag Hunt” game theory reference for those who want to look it up). Winning together is harder and requires restraint and mindfulness in addition to empathy, but if you can do that, then you will have bigger, more fulfilling wins and supercharge your career growth. Restraint in particular affords you the ability to step back and see the bigger picture. That’s something I’m still working on, and it’s probably the most important skill. Because, even if you’re a great improviser and have natural empathy and calculating going on in your head, without restraint, you can slip up and act too soon before you’ve learned the most important facts… You could upset or lose champions…. You could get locked out by the gatekeeper (an instant non-starter). Again, the more familiar and passionate I become with individuals in an interaction, the harder this is, but it’s important. Even with your team you’ve worked with for a year it’s important - or at least it was for me. This is a soft skillset I’m still developing. I would say the development of this skillset has been positively correlated to growth and success in my career.
commenting to revisit later - platform could use bookmarking functionality :/
Mirna's profile thumbnail
hey @Gwenn83 there is actually a bookmark option :) but I believe its just available on the laptop (not on mobile) , you can find it on top of the post on the right upper corner
Mirna's profile thumbnail
wow, you gave it some solid thought :) and I love the idea, and impressed with your clear reasoning about how it works for you - for myself, the idea of restraint works out a bit differently (in combination with my habits and tendencies), but your thoughts inspired me a lot to give it a thought about how it works for me and I can say that it is definitely one of the skills that are high up on the "list" of my "to strengthen" skills :) thanks for sharing such a valuable thoughts and insights, and for taking the time to really dive into it <3 :)
taylorcapito's profile thumbnail
I was thinking about it and going to say empathy, and then I decided to go deeper because these are things I'm still working on so I thought maybe some of my thinking and experience might resonate with someone :)
Mirna's profile thumbnail
love that attitude, especially in the world of quick and superficial conversations <3 :)
LucyN's profile thumbnail
Once again @Mirna with a thought-provoking question...For me I think it's two - critical thinking and decision making. Learning to think outside of the proverbial box, and asking questions that arise from that deep thinking, have really served me well - sometimes we don't want to rock the boat by having differing thoughts and poking with questions, but it's such a critical skill (not to mention any workplace that doesn't appreciate this throws up red flags left and right).Decision-making is another one - I struggled with this for a while, mostly from imposter syndrome and shrinking from authority. Once I realized that I not only have the knowledge to make a decision but also the confidence and support from my team that I would make the 'right' decision, it opened up so many doors. Thank you for this Mirna!
Mirna's profile thumbnail
oh what a great list! I believe critical thinking is one world-wide that would be good to encourage people to develop more off - I think Adam Grant is doing a good job with his new great book Think Again to encourage moving a bit more in that direction :)As for decision making, that is definitely a pain point for me ahahah I tend to wallow in indecisiveness (especially if I am tired, tressed or low on energy) - so if you have some good tips what helps your decision making process, do tell @LucyN
LucyN's profile thumbnail
Yessss love Think Again and that book really cemented how important it is to consider all angles. AND as someone who finds decision-making hard, it helped there too - because it encourages you to think about all outcomes and results so you can frame your decision that way! So I think about a few things - what is the result of any decision? Is it irreversible? What could be good/bad? Looking ahead 2-3 steps after the decision is made to see what the results are has helped me a lot - most of the time, the decision thankfully is not life or death, and a wrong decision is just an opportunity to learn.
marierokerjones's profile thumbnail
Empathy is the soft skill that is my superpower.
SamanthaB's profile thumbnail
Hello @Mirna you’ve had some great responses that I would absolutely echo and whilst I’m not sure this would be classed a soft skill per se I would advise building and nurturing your network. Identifying what you can do for others, get to know them and from there you grow a support network as you grow your career.
Mirna's profile thumbnail
Oooh so true, thanks for adding this @SamanthaB I would totally sign that this is super imporant :)Perhaps we can brainstorm what subskills are great to make you better at networking? I would say proactivity, communication skills but also consistency in follow up :)
kellygebo's profile thumbnail
Navigating tricky conversations - I liked this book a lot: https://www.amazon.com/Crucial-Conversations-Talking-Stakes-Second/dp/1469266822This helped me tremendously as a project manager and so so much in client management. The advice I have for feeling more confident is practice and not being afraid to have those conversations. You, your team, and client will all be better for it and it's always better the sooner you do it vs. waiting.
Mirna's profile thumbnail
wow that's insightful - I guess in the end most of our work comes down to conversations :) oh, I love that book too :) thanks for sharing
Mirna's profile thumbnail
what was your main insight from the book?
kellygebo's profile thumbnail
I would say the reusable structure for preparing and having those conversations