Soft skills matter!  Of course you need to be proficient in the skills required to perform your day-to-day tasks. 

You may or may not include excellent interpersonal skills in that list. You should; they are what ultimately connect you to those with whom you engage every day.  Soft skills play a tremendous role in the success of collaborative efforts, in effectively managing people, in leadership, and they support and can define the corporate culture.  Consider the following. . .

ConfidentWe’ve all known or met people who immediately draw us to them.  It’s often said – perhaps you’ve even said it yourself – that they have “presence.”  And when they speak and act, we are motivated, inspired, and want to engage with them.  They are knowledgeable, confident, make a strong connection with us. They have immediate credibility.  Their energy and enthusiasm is infectious.

Air SuckerOn the other hand, there is the person who, when he or she enters a room, sucks the air right out of it.  They typically are extremely intelligent and have a lot to contribute, but something keeps them from making the personal connections that allow for productive exchange of information, time, ideas, and more.  Instead of being inspired, we are demotivated in their presence.

You probably clearly recognize both of these examples, and can put names to both!  It’s just one example of how these seemingly intangible skills determine with whom we interact, how we do it, the quality of the interaction, and the results. There’s no doubt who I’d rather work with!  How about you?  Better yet, which person’s manner of engagement would you rather embody, giving yourself access to new levels of productivity and success?

In today’s business environment there’s little we do in a vacuum.  We constantly interact with others to accomplish our goals.  And, as professionals are constantly being pressed to “do more with less,” they can’t afford not to develop those less tangible skills that make the difference for themselves as well as their colleagues, subordinates, alliance partners, and clients/customers.

Few of us think we have poor interpersonal skills.  What we all do have are things that get in the way. . .  things that disconnect us from and hide our own brilliance in communicating and engaging with others.  In other words, we have blind spots, automatic ways of reacting to and dealing with life and business situations that get in the way of communicating and interacting with others effectively.  We can’t see them, but they’re there, and they keep us from being the creative, productive, inspiring and powerful business professionals and leaders we truly are.