No need to worry right away, because as technology dictates workplace functions on new terms, we will still rely on the unique soft skills only humans can provide. Workers will continue to play an indispensable role in creating and cementing links among their teams, management, clients and outside constituents. AI cannot operate with empathy, kindness or compassion. Those are the hallmarks of a social animal.
What are interpersonal skills?
Almost every job requires interpersonal abilities to some extent, whether it is listening and attending to clients, getting along smoothly with colleagues, or inspiring and motivating from the managerial side. Almost everyone, except for lighthouse keepers, must be prepared to interact with their boss and fellow team members. Relationships may be predicated on empathy, relating to how others feel; it is also crucial to understand clients’ concerns to help solve them. Cooperation is a key aspect of forging partnerships directed toward common goals. In order to establish these connections, workers must develop their verbal and written communication, attentive listening, and important nonverbal skills. Body language, gestures and eye contact often express more than lengthy memos can.
Some of the most powerful social skills workers must possess in the workplace are:
- Positive attitude.
- Being a team player.
- Ability to solve problems.
- Facility to know how to control their tone and volume of voice.
- Ability to choose their words carefully.
- Active listening proficiency.
- Capability of making decisions.
- Ability to adapt and be flexible to change.
- Conflict resolution ability.
- Good manners.
Consider the skill of being a good listener, for instance. Be careful not to respond until another person has finished speaking. Or, you can cultivate how to skillfully have small talk and instill rapport by paying the right amount of attention to your colleagues. You can also be respectful by encouraging others to express their opinions and not interrupting them.
These traits are sometimes grouped under emotional intelligence. Some of them can be measured by EQ tests that try to quantify characteristics such as self-awareness, social insight, confidence and self-control. How do employees respond to praise or criticism? In their work relationships, are they able to guide or motivate others; bond with, influence or persuade team members; or handle conflicts? These are some of the questions EQ tests can answer.
Importance of the softer side
As technology grows ever more sophisticated, offices are becoming more communal. The typical solitary cubicle is transforming into a more team-based arrangement. Although there is no formal way to measure how team members leverage one another’s contributions, good social skills clearly help integrate team members’ input. Their cohesion supports company culture, which results in less HR intervention. When teams are successfully coordinated, members are happier and more successful at problem-solving and achieving goals. It is no wonder that a Business Solver study showed 93% of employees are likely to stay with a more empathetic employer. A Leadership IQ study revealed that, among new hires, 89% of failures are due to a lack of soft skills and difficulties managing their emotions.
Building social competence
Managers can help employees hone their soft skills by:
- Identifying problem areas.
- Setting goals.
- Encouraging role-playing.
- Offering feedback.
- Using positive reinforcement.
- Assigning homework exercises.
Gamification is particularly useful for enhancing social development. It might take the form of simulation exercises designed to understand customer pain points and complaints or peer-to-peer learning within a group. Many companies turn to training modules to focus on the key moments in client/customer interactions. A typical example is Walmart’s “Spark City.” The game simulates working in a Walmart store, including regular activities such as restocking, greeting customers, cleaning up spills or confronting shoplifters. Players earn points and receive feedback. Meanwhile, a corporate game at Farmers Insurance imitates collaboration with vendors and communication with customers. The training curriculum draws on virtual reality settings.
These games serve to determine the messages players hope to communicate about themselves and their solutions to daily challenges. Almost anyone can benefit, whether you’re an executive, a salesperson or any other team member.