Soft skills or essential skills

Soft skills or essential skills

< Back to Articles | Topics: Trends | Contributors: Yvette Gagnon (Founder & CEO, Comforting Companions Care Providers Inc.) | Published: April 1, 2024

Soft skills are often referred to as “people skills” and, in a world where more of us rely on technology to communicate with each other, the ability to see others fully and pick up on the emotions behind words has become a lost skill.

But success in life and in business comes from building relationships with others and knowing their needs on a deeper level. Truly understanding others can only happen when we put aside our own objectives (to sell) and instead listen to others’ challenges to see if what we offer can help them solve the problem they have. The difference is that you now are no longer trying to “sell” something. You are there instead seeking to be of service. Whether your product will help them or their team, actively listening to others ultimately allows us to get closer to addressing their needs. This will almost always result in stronger negotiating skills, relationships, customer and staff loyalty, referrals, and sales.

Think of the last time that you wanted to work with a company or buy a service only to find that the person on the other end was not fully listening to what you needed and was instead busy trying to impress you with their knowledge of what they “thought” you needed. Perhaps they interrupted you, or you sensed they were not fully present, or you felt rushed and that they didn’t have the time to let you express what you needed. The result likely ended in frustration on your part, and rather than using their services or products, you moved on to another service or supplier. We all want to be listened to, for others to see us, to hear us, and to understand us, but in a world where there is so much to pull our attention away, we can often lose sight of this human need and damage our relationships with others.

The same principles apply to your employees or caring for others in a professional or personal role. This means being fully present, allowing them the time they need to express themselves, and then responding in a way that tells them you heard them (saying things like “Yes, that sounds difficult” or “Tell me more”).

As David Brooks says so eloquently in his new book How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen, listening doesn’t work like an on/off switch. We should try to listen to the emotions behind words “like we listen to music.” Then, we can help others with what we all truly need to live well and be successful.

Yvette Gagnon is a Positive Approach to Care Dementia Consultant, Trainer, Engagement Leader and a Certified Dementia Care Practitioner. She owns Comforting Companions, a service dedicated to the social and emotional wellbeing of others by providing dementia education, consulting, and companion care.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Trends

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