The Importance of Being “Soft”

Written on Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 at 6:15 am by Adaire
Filed under Sharing Success.

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase “business skills”? You’d probably think of skills involving more technical stuff like account management skills or the talent to write compelling copy for your website or ads. But business isn’t all about these external, technical skills – your success in business relies heavily on another set of skills that are commonly referred to as “soft skills”.

Soft skills deal largely with communication, social interaction, and personal habits. In an article called “5 Soft Skills for Business Success” on Healthy Wealthy nWise, Ralph Goldsmith discusses five of the most important soft skills that you need in order for your business to succeed.

Three of the skills Ralph mentions are vision, imagination, and making it personal. I believe that these three interconnected soft skills are the basic starting points for any business. :)

Having a primary vision for your business is always a good thing – it helps you plan out your strategies and short-term goals, and keeps you motivated as you go about your work. While having a goal like obtaining a seven-digit income within the next five years is good, your vision shouldn’t just be about making money or any other material goal. Your vision should be something that will bring you real happiness and a sense of fulfillment. That’s precisely what Ralph means when he talks about “making it personal”. As he says, you have to “spend some time considering what sort of a person you want and need to become in order to achieve what you want out of life and out of your business.”

In another Healthy Wealthy nWise article called “Trusting Your Vision”, Jennifer Read Hawthorne says: “When vision comes from the heart and is coupled with the willingness to work, miracles can happen.” Having a vision that’s more personal and aligned with your passions and interests is always better than simply thinking about the money.

But how do you even start figuring out what your vision is? Jennifer describes a vision as something that “might be born when you find yourself at a crossroads, no longer willing to do things the same old way. It may arise out of need, as an answer to a problem, or a deep soul desire felt within. And it may seem impractical-even impossible.” There’s no definite answer how you can figure out what your own personal vision is – it varies for each person. The only advice I can give you is to do some soul-searching to find out where your passions lie, and what you’d like to achieve through your business. :)

And this is precisely where your imagination comes into play. Ralph calls the imagination “a powerful tool in your own motivation,” and he’s right. You can’t exactly visualize your dreams and end goals properly without using your imagination! When you have a general idea of what you want to achieve as an entrepreneur and as a person, try to envision everything in as much detail as possible.

Ralph also mentions awareness and listening in his list. These two skills are all about paying attention to what’s going on around you. By “awareness”, Ralph means that you should pay close attention to any opportunities and risks that you run into while running your business. If you don’t, you could miss out on chances to help improve your business, or wind up with a huge setback if you don’t keep your eyes peeled for anything that could impede your progress. Being aware of what’s going on will also help you prepare for any problems you foresee, and this prevents your business by being crippled by a major blow that you failed to predict.

“Listening”, on the other hand, is about paying attention to comments and feedback from those around you, especially your customers. Ralph says that paying attention to what your customers say not only tell you what they want, but also “exactly how to sell it to them”. Through paying close attention to what your customers say and their behavioral patterns, you’ll know where to promote your business and how. You’ll know which social media sites they visit more often, and how you should be wording your posts when talking to them. Paying attention to all these little things help you reach out and bond with your customers, fostering a relationship of trust and loyalty between you.

When managing your own business, it becomes so easy to zero-in on profits and money that we tend to forget about the soft skills required for us to stay happy AND keep the business afloat. Remember: You can only achieve true success by finding your vision, using your imagination, listening and being aware of what’s going on around you, and most importantly – making it personal. :)


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