The essential soft skills framework – 6 tips on how to communicate effectively with other people
A soft skills framework is essential for your success at work, especially in a leadership role or other positions that require a successful connection with others. Developing strong and lasting professional relationships requires an understanding of the context of your interaction and building rapport and trust. It is rarely a natural skill and often needs to be learned and practiced although it certainly helps if you have an intrinsic interest in people and what makes them tick.
Here is my suggested soft skills framework:
1. Be approachable – it is all in your body language
Every picture tells a story and if your body language, your open stance, friendly demeanor and broad smile, is positive you create a quick bridge to those around you. They will feel more confident in engaging with you.
2. Be observant and work to understand them
Being observant around their body language and mannerisms and wanting to learn more about them will give you valuable information on how to approach a conversation or situation. Knowing what they are thinking and why gives you an incredible advantage which comes from being observant.
3. Be interested – ask questions and actively listen to their answers and insights
By asking people the right questions in the right way (enthusiastically and engaged) people will open up and give you the context as to why they think and behave a certain way. By learning to ‘walk in their shoes’ you can also understand what their general and specific goals are. Learn to actively listen, that is, concentrate fully on what they are saying from which you can invariably glean nuances to gain an advantage. Find something personal that pertains to them, such as a pastime or leisure interest that can always be your connection.
4. Make them your only focus whilst you are talking with them
Give the person you are talking with your undivided attention to show that you genuinely care about them and their situation. This will make them feel comfortable secure and connected with you and in your company. Being genuine in your interest and attention creates a valuable bond.
One small tip – if you are talking with someone, stay focused on them and not watching what is going on beyond them otherwise this dilutes the good impression already made.
5. Empathize with their point of view
Everyone has an opinion and you should accept their opinion first, even if you introduce a contrary point of view later. By empathizing with them you are reaffirming your respect for them and their views thus creating a safe haven for the discussion. This encourages you both to open up even further, creating additional rapport and trust.
6. Build a bond of trust
Arguably the most important personal attribute is your reputation, which is built through demonstrating integrity and developing trust. The above tips are important parts of this soft skills framework but the key to building trust is doing what you say you are going to do. If you make a promise, then be sure to deliver. By not delivering you break a bond and threaten your credibility. If you don’t think you can deliver then don’t make a promise. It is a simple but crucial cornerstone to your soft skills framework.