When people talk about the “future of work” they often divide the important skills sets into two categories — hard skills and soft skills. The hard skills including coding and, well, coding. The soft skills are everything else, like problem-solving, self-awareness, resilience, and communication. Some of these fall under a larger umbrella of emotional intelligence.
There has been a tendency to think that so-called soft skills are ‘nice to have,’ second to technical capabilities. Along with this thinking was the belief that the soft skills were not teachable but, rather, innate, part of person’s personality. Neither of these assumptions is true.
The ability to communicate clearly is a direct result of well-developed emotional intelligence, and employers are realizing how critical it is for success. LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Report found that employers rank communication skills rank among the most in-demand for new hires.
Communication skills are not automatic. Just because you can speak or write does not mean you can communicate well. There is a big difference between giving out information and getting through to people through effective communication. Make no mistake. Communication that comes as a result of emotional intelligence is hard work. Self-awareness requires a degree of patience and inward reflection that are often not part of corporate “always on” cultures. But those who train and practice effective communication will reap the benefits in the form of career development and professional growth. Development of soft skills – communication among them – is seen as a better predictor of long term success than hard skills.
Employers who highly rank communication skills as essential, and individuals who hope to advance their careers, are well-advised to invest in proactively developing these skills.