Soft Skills List – 28 Skills to Working Smart

I originally published this soft skills list in June 2011.  I am honored to discover that more than 500,000 of you have since read my soft skills list and found it helpful.

There are 28 soft skills essential to your career success.  I wished I knew about many of these earlier in my career.   I want to share them so I can empower you to work smart and achieve more.  I look forward to your comments.

What are Soft Skills?

Soft-skills-list For a skill to be considered a soft skill, it needs to have three characteristics.

  1. Rules for mastering this skill is not black and white –  Unlike hard skills, like math, where the rule for doing it perfectly is always the same, how effective you are at a soft skill changes depends on your emotional state, external circumstance, and the type of people you interact with.
  2. This skill is portable and valuable to any job/career – Because soft skills are about your inner strength and interpersonal effectiveness, as long as you work with people, these skills are valuable to your career.
  3. Mastering this skill is an ongoing journey – You can reach a level of competency in it but you can always encounter new situations or people that will test your soft skills and push you to learn more.

Other experts agree.  Some define soft skills as those that are “difficult to measure” and others define soft skills as “skills which characterize relationships with other people, or which are about how you approach life and work.”   There is however, one common set of skills missing in most soft skills definition.  Most focus soft skills on people skills – how effective we are in working with others.  This is absolutely important.  However, what  you must also master to accelerate success are self-management skills.  These are skills that help you manage your relationship with yourself – your inner dialogue.

Based on 20 years of working experience, I define 28 soft skills that every professional should develop – 10 Self-Management skills and 18 People Skills.  No matter what type of work you do, you will find value, advancement, and fulfillment in developing these 28 soft skills in your career.

Soft Skills List – Self Management Skills

Self-Management Skills address how you perceive yourself and others, manage your personal habits and emotions and react to adverse situations.  Only when you build inner excellence can you have a strong mental and emotional foundation to succeed in your career.

  1. Growth mindset – Looking at any situation, especially difficult situations, as an opportunity for you to learn, grow, and change for the better.  Focusing your attention on improving yourself instead of changing others or blaming anyone.
  2. Self-awareness – Knowing and understanding what drives, angers, motivates, embarrasses, frustrates, and inspires you.  Being able to observe yourself objectively in a difficult situation and understand how your perceptions of yourself, others, and the situation are driving your actions.
  3. Emotion regulation – Being able to manage your emotions, especially negative ones, at work (e.g. anger, frustration, embarrassment) so you can think clearly and objectively, and act accordingly.
  4. Self-confidence – Believing in yourself and your ability to accomplish anything.  Knowing that all you need is within you now.  “Those who believe in themselves have access to unlimited power” – wisdom from Kung Fu Panda
  5. Stress management– Being able to stay healthy, calm, and balanced in any challenging situations.  Knowing how to reduce your stress level will increase your productivity, prepare you for new challenges and supports your physical and emotional health, all of which you need for a fulfilling, successful career.
  6. Resilience – Being able to bounce back after a disappointment or set back, big or small, and continue to move onward and upward.
  7. Skills to forgive and forget– Being able to forgive yourself for making a mistake, forgive others that wronged you, and move on without “mental or emotional baggage.”  Freeing your mind from the past so you can focus 100% of your mental energy on your near and long-term career goals.
  8. Persistence and perseverance – Being able to maintain the same energy and dedication in your effort to learn, do, and achieve in your career despite difficulties, failures, and oppositions.
  9. Patience – Being able to step back in a seemingly rushed or crisis situation, so you can think clearly and take action that fulfills your long term goals.
  10. Perceptiveness – Giving attention to the unspoken cues and developing cognitive or emotional empathy of other people’s situation and perspective.  Often times, we are too busy thinking about ourselves and what we are saying, we leave little room to watch and understand others’ action and intentions.   If you misinterpret other’s intention or don’t try to put yourself in their shoes, you can easily encounter difficulties dealing with people and not even know why.

Soft Skills List – People Skills

People Skills address how to best interact and work with others so you can build meaningful work relationships, influence others perception of you and your work, and motivate their actions.   I have split them into two sections – Conventional and Tribal

Conventional – List of people skills you can find in most job descriptions and you will be assessed on some or all of these in your performance reviews depending on your level.

  1. Communication skills – Being able to actively listen to others and articulate your ideas in writing and verbally to any audience in a way where you are heard and you achieve the goals you intended with that communication.  This also include languages skills if the spoken language at work is your second language.
  2. Teamwork skills – Being able to work effectively with anyone with different skill sets, personalities, work styles, or motivation level to achieve a better team result.
  3. Interpersonal relationship skills  Effective at building trust, finding common ground, having emotional empathy, and ultimately building good relationships with people at work and in your network.  Also referred as you social skills, this skill is closely related to Communication Skills.  It doesn’t matter how smart you are, you must have social graces in order to get far in your career.  As Maya Angelou said “I have learned people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.”
  4. Presentation skills – Effectively presenting your work results and ideas formally to an audience that captivates their attention, engage their input, and motivates them to act in accordance to your desired outcome.  While presentation skills is a form of communication skills, I decided to list it separately given the ability to present plays a huge role in any business profession especially as you move up in your career.
  5. Meeting management skills – Leading a meeting to efficiently and effectively reach productive results.  At least 50% of meetings today are a waste of time.
  6. Facilitating skills – Being able to coordinate and solicit well represented opinions and feedback from a group with diverse perspectives to reach a common, best solution.
  7. Selling skills –  Building buy-in to an idea, a decision, an action, a product, or a service.  This is not just for people in sales.
  8. Management skills – Creating and motivating a high performing team with people of varied skills, personalities, motivations, and work styles.
  9. Leadership skills – Defining and communicating vision and ideas that inspires others to follow with commitment and dedication.
  10. Mentoring / coaching skills – Providing constructive wisdom, guidance, and/or feedback that can help others further their career development

“Tribal” –  List of people skills that you will not find in any job descriptions.  They are also essential to your career success.   I call it tribal because they are more “insider knowledge” that you gain from work experience or from mentors.  Some people can go through their entire career and not be aware of some of these skills.

  1. Managing upwardsProactively managing your relationship with your boss, his expectations of your work, and his perception of your performance.  Whether you are challenged, given opportunities, or recognized at work heavily depends on your ability to communicate, manage expectations, and build a good relationship with your boss.
  2. Self-promotion skills – Proactively and subtly promoting your skills and work results to people of power or influence in your organization and network.  It is not enough that your boss knows you do great work.  You need to subtly build your reputation with all key people that can influence your performance review.  This is because hard work alone does not guarantee success.
  3. Skills in dealing with difficult personalities – Being able to still achieve the work result needed while working with someone whom you find difficult.
  4. Skills in dealing with difficult/unexpected situations – Being able to stay calm and still are effective when faced with an unexpected or difficult situation.  This includes being able to think on your feet and articulate thoughts in an organized manner even when you are not prepared for the discussion or situation you are in.
  5. Savvy in handling office politics – Being able to understand and proactively deal with the unspoken nuances of office and people dynamics so you can protect yourself from unfairness as well as further your career.  Office politics is a fact of life.  If you don’t choose to play, it can play you.
  6. Influence / persuasion skills – Being able to influence perspectives or decision making but still have the people you influence think they made up their own minds.
  7. Negotiation skills  Being able to understand the other side’s motivations and leverage and reach a win-win resolution that you find favorably, satisfies both sides, and maintains relationships for future interactions.
  8. Networking skills  Being able to be interesting and interested in business conversations that motivates people to want to be in your network.  The bigger and stronger the network you have, the more easily you can get things done (e.g., find a job, get advice, find business partners, find customers, etc…)

I know this is a daunting list.  We are here to help.  This entire site and all its resources are dedicated to helping you work smart and live more through developing your soft skills.   Don’t worry if you don’t have all of them today.  Most of us don’t.   The important thing is to understand why these soft skills are important and then ask yourself – which one do you want to develop next?

Ready to learn more about soft skills? then subscribe for our free Newsletter – How to Succeed like an Executive, exclusive articles email to you with actionable, in-depth tips on how to develop your soft skills.

Ready to improve your soft skills? then learn more about Soft Skills Gym – a place to get answers 24/7, take action, and be empowered in your career!  First month is free.

Learn More

Your Comments – Which of these soft skills do you think are the most important to your career success?  Is there a soft skill I missed in this list?

Like this post?  Then help me out and share it on Google+ Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and elsewhere.

I look forward to your comments.  I am always in your corner.

– Lei

150 thoughts on “Soft Skills List – 28 Skills to Working Smart

  1. Cynthia Clayton

    I am from The Utah Parent Center, and I would like your permission to use this article to help teach transitioning students with disabilities to learn soft skills. We will not change any of the content, and of course your name will remain on the article.

  2. Elle

    I am grateful for having found your page and this list! I am a forty *ahem* something attempting to get myself back in to the work force, it has proven to be an intimidating and frustrating task. However, this list is a reminder that soft skills are an important and valuable asset for self promotion. I’ve bookmarked your page and look forward to reading more of your useful insights. Thank you for “being in my corner”.

  3. Dean Johnson

    Hi Lei,

    I am designing a survey to study the perspectives of statistical consults who work in a private practice. In one of the questions on the survey, I am interested in asking the consultant to select, from a list of soft skills, the 5 that are most important in statistical consulting. Do I have your permission to use some of the soft skills you state on your website to form the list of soft skills for the survey questions?

    Dean

      1. Dean Johnson

        Hi Lei,

        Time management and planning are important skills for a statistical consultant. Are these skills found in your list?

        Thanks,
        Dean

        1. Lei Han Post author

          I categorize them as more hard skills as per my definition in this article. Being effective at Soft Skills depends on who you are dealing with and the interpersonal dynamics with yourself and others. Time management and planning are hard skills as you can learn them at any job and then directly apply them to another one. If you know how to manage your time at one job, you can do it at another one. You can adapt it for the new role, but the fundamentals are not affected by others.

          1. Kurt

            Hi Lei

            Will self management within a framework of time not be considered a soft skill in the following instance?

            [Perhaps when moving from one job to another the individual may encounter more abrasive personalities or even more emotionally dependent teammates who may require or even hijack more hours in a work day.
            Should her self management be poor she may allow small pockets of time (minutes/hours) to be lost to these stimuli].

            It’s as though time management is not possible unless the individual has a mastery of self within an 8hr workday (or workweek, etc)

            PS! Tx for your awesome article!

            1. Lei Han Post author

              Kurt, thanks for commenting. I still consider time management more of hard skill. We all only have 24 hours a day and how we manage it can be learned. For example, coding is a hard skill, but if you work with others during coding that have abrasive behavior, it will affect your ability to code effectively. This doesn’t mean you cannot code. You just need to beef up some people skills like how to deal with difficult personalities or self management skills like how to be resilient or how to regulate your emotion so none of your work is affected by others.

  4. Bibhuti Narayan Biswal Biswal

    Dear Lei,
    I read the article How to turn negative feedback into your advantage. Its really nice .Hope it will work for me.Keep me updated with topic like this.

    Looking forward to your next topic.

    With Love

  5. beth sikma

    This is a wonderful resource! Thank you so much for sharing it. With your permission, I would like to use this information as key areas of discussion for a training I am putting together for individuals currently residing in a local homeless shelter/recovery facility in Wilmington, Delaware. Thank you so much!

  6. MBPERALTA

    Hi Ms. Lei Han!
    Greetings!
    I find your articles very informative and useful. I am a Guidance Counselor in Tertiary level and I would like to seek permission to use this particular article of yours in a module I am trying to design for to be used in career seminar talks. Rest assured that appropriate citations and referencing will be observed.
    Thank you very much!

  7. Kathleen C McCabe

    I teach graduate students and am writing about soft skills for future school leaders. I would like permission to include your list of soft skills in my work.

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  9. Bethadel Garcia

    Dear Sir Han:
    We are Accounting majors from the Philippines. We are currently conducting a research regarding soft skills. We find this article of yours very informative, relevant and timely. May we ask for your permission to use your soft skills list in our survey questionnaire? Rest assured that we will give proper credits and citations! This would surely be of great help. We hope for your positive response regarding this matter. Thank you, sir! More powers!

    1. Paul Mata

      “Week Two’s Discussion: Soft Skills”

      As I read all the information on “soft skills” and finally understanding what it actually means, I begun to understand that I use just about every type of skill. The most amazing thing about “soft skills” is that they are limitless if you think about it. A “hard skill” only goes as high as the knowledge to said skill, as with a “soft skill”, you can aim as high as your imagination will let you.

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  12. Jong Seiavitch

    I’m typically to running a blog and i actually respect your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your website and maintain checking for brand spanking new information.

  13. Sindhu

    Hi to all actually I am an school going 13 year child who don’t have any proper soft skills. But after reading ur article I have implemented some of those in my daily school life. And then I got a very good result compared to previous. I have got many new friends, people started liking me and also I have got many teachers appreciations on improving my confidence, time management skills, communication skills. I would like to thank u for this article. I wish u to keep on writing such articles. ☺😊😉👍

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  15. Annabelle Nickell

    Hi Lei,

    I am currently obtaining my Master of Science in Organizational Development. I would like your permission to use your Soft Skills List in my training manual. I am required to facilitate a workshop for my Talent & Development class. The workshop is on Improving Teamwork and your list is perfect. One of the objectives in my workshop is to build a “Soft skills toolkit”.

    I hope you will allow me to incorporate your list into my training.

    Thank you,

    Annabelle

  16. Jordy van Lith

    It is indeed a rather daunting list! The four soft skills that I work with are generating the best ideas, maintaining healthy relationships, and finding your motivation and focus. Many of those you mentioned can follow out these four, depending on your skill level. I find these four to be directly linked to your productivity and workplace happiness. (Whereas, if you’re a great presenter, what do you have to present? You firstly need the ideas.)

  17. Martin Damary

    Hi Lei,

    Just came across this thanks to the wonders of online searches. Brings a lot of clarity! Thanks. One question though. We are looking for someone who, inter alia, loves standards, procedures, regularity, follows procedure without being outside the box, etc. I could not ding something like this – is it because it is not a soft skill but a characteristic?

    1. Lei Han Post author

      Martin, these seems to characteristics, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want someone with soft skills unless that person will never work with other people. As long as this person needs to work with other people, then you also need to find out if this person have soft skills – to communicate well, deal with difficult situations or personalities, can manage their own stress, etc…

  18. Joseph Abban

    Hi Lei Han,

    I hope my submission finds you well. I must admit the information provided is very informative and educative.
    I would love to have your permission to use your Soft Skills (while giving full acknowledgement to you) in my in-house training programs for our staff. I am into Learning & Development in the company I work in Ghana, West Africa.
    I hope this humble request meets your kindest considerations.
    Regards,
    Joe

  19. David Lynch

    Hi Lei Han,

    I like the way that you categorized the soft skills. I am an adult education coordinator who teaches workforce contextualized ESL and Adult Basic Education classes and workshops for a community based organization near Seattle, WA. I’d like to ask your permission to include your “28 Skills to working smart” in our “Introduction to Soft Skills” workshop. We will give you full credit and include your contact information on the handouts, please advise if we can have your permission to print and share. Thank you. David Lynch

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    1. Lei Han Post author

      The short answer is pick one of the Tribal skills, then practice, practice, practice!

      You can start by
      – signing up for the Soft skill Gym. https://bemycareercoach.com/softskills/gym/membership-signup so I can help you along the way
      – reading all the articles under that one tribal skills.
      – Each week, decide on one tip that resonated with you and practice it at work
      – ask questions any time in any article comment section or via this link https://bemycareercoach.com/softskills/gym/ask-me-anything

      Best wishes,
      Lei

  21. Takatso Mzaca

    I would like to thank you for this opportunity to understand what soft skills is. I’m sooo interested in developing my soft skills, I’m sure i need to develop in all of the above skills. I really need training for soft skills, I just started in a Uk call centre for customer care, it’s only been two weeks and i would really love to master my work. Please help.

    1. Lei Han Post author

      Takatso, the first step is choosing which one or two soft skills you want to develop first. You cannot develop them all at once. I think the most important soft skills to develop are interpersonal skills, and difficult personalities or situations. In the front line of a call center, it’s important to stay calm and caring even if the customer is irate and complaining. There are something you can help with and something that are outside your control. Remember, the customer is always right. That attitude plus a listening ear can go a long way with a customer that may be upset. Best wishes in your job. Let me know if you have any specific questions

  22. Tanmay

    Hi Lei,

    A big hello to all the members who can view the comments. I am a new member to the world of Lei Han, who gave an opportunity to all of us to know the features and significance of Soft skills and got a chance to interact with different people through their post and blog. I hope it will be really helpful for me in future.

    Thanks
    Tanmay

  23. Kathy

    I have taught elementary school for thirteen years and often wondered why some students didn’t seem to have the skills to engage in learning. This year I moved to teaching preschool in a different state and at one training they mentioned “soft skills” and I became curious. After listening to an NPR report from economist James Heckman about these skills, I wanted to learn more so I can implement them into my preschool classroom. Many of these skills are what I now realize students were missing in my elementary class!

    1. Lei Han Post author

      Kathy, glad you found the list helpful 🙂 The earlier a child can learn some of the fundamental skills like self awareness, self confidence, and interpersonal skills, the more successful she or he can be in school and in life. this is also why social and sports activities outside of the classroom is so enriching and important for kids.

      Lei

  24. Nawab Husain

    By God, what a amazing simplified version, particularly the Convention and “Tribal” classification of soft skills.
    I am in the consulting business in HR and Business Consulting Services. Had laboured while customizing TNA for clients, but this makes so easy and lucid to comprehend and that I can but say that God bless you. Great work.

  25. Janette Fuller

    Dear Lei Han,
    I’m writing a book about the teacher’s job. I am including a section on skills. I like your definition of hard vs soft skills. Would you mind if I cite your article in my book?
    Regards,
    Janette

  26. Lew Bayer

    Hi Lei, my name is Lew Bayer, I am CEO of Civility Experts Worldwide. I am writing you today to ask permission to include your piece on soft skills https://bemycareercoach.com/soft-skills/list-soft-skills.html in my upcoming book “Civility at Work” – we will of course give you full credit – and include your contact information in our sources section, please advise if I can have your permission. thank you. Lew Bayer, lew@civilityexperts.com, 204-996-4792

    1. Lei Han Post author

      Lew, glad to hear you like my article. Yes, you have my permission to use as long as you provide me full credit including link to the article on my blog. thanks. Let me know when it publishes. thanks

      Lei

  27. Renoy Dharmarajan

    dear sir,
    this article of yours regarding the soft skills and its importance in the organisation was so informative and everything was so precisely explained i will try my level best to induce more such skills in myself .

    thanq so much for your detailed explanation.
    Regards
    Renoy Dharmarajan

  28. Anthony

    I find that quote from Maya Angelou very inspiring. If you take it to heart and learn what you need from it then it will actually help you in developing many of these soft skills. It helps me to see things from the other persons perspective, thus helping me take responsibility for my communication and the way that it is perceived by the other person. Awareness skills, communication skills, self leadership…

    1. Lei Han Post author

      Anthony, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is very true. Being able to see the world from another person’s perspective can improve all of our soft skills

  29. Jen S.

    I wanted to tell you how helpful this list is. I work as an employment counselor at a human services agency and your list is wonderful. I can use it to explain to my clients why we are working on a certain skill, and I can use it to identify places where the client needs more focus. Thank you very much!

  30. Ashish Panwar

    It is definitely a well researched detailed article on soft skills. It has helped comprehend what these skills really are.

    I will be thankful if you may take a minute or two to write back to me and guide me as to where can I professionally get trained from on Soft skills and Voice & Accent.

  31. yahoo

    Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I
    guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.

    I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still
    new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips for inexperienced blog writers?
    I’d really appreciate it.

  32. Ica

    Stellar article!

    Thank you for this. Definitely helped me about understanding soft skills in-depth. Will forever bookmark this article and this site. 🙂

  33. amin khan

    Dear Sir,
    As a Communication expert for public affairs/ out reach what Soft skills any employer look for? Will you please List at least 4 soft skills.
    A MNC, consulting company asked me for CV, where a column of Soft Skills is to be fulfilled . will you please give your valuable suggestion on soft skills for effective communication expert.
    thanks,
    AMIN KHAN
    aminkhansakalgroup@gmail.com

    1. Lei Han Post author

      Amin, thanks for your question. Here is the top 4 soft skill I think employers will look for in a communication expert
      – Written and verbal communication skills
      – presentation skills
      – interpersonal relationship skills
      – skills of being diplomatic
      Best wishes

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  35. eric moynihan

    I am part of a team that is developing a seminar where business people meet our high school staff to identify and emphasize the importance of soft skills to the employer. The plan is to motivate teachers to find ways to incorporate the teaching of soft skills as they teach the hard skills of their respective disciplines. This site is very helpful in developing that plan,

    Would you like to come to Portland Maine to speak to our staff….Portland is nice in the spring…….Lobster….just sayin!

    1. Lei Han Post author

      Eric, thank you for your comment. I am glad to hear my site is helpful to your efforts. I do think the earlier we can teach our kids soft skills, the more prepared they would be for college and the working world.

      Thank you also for your invitation to fly out to Maine to talk to your staff. I love Lobster! Unfortunately visiting in the spring may be difficult =given my current schedule. However I would be happy to speak to you or some staff over a video or tele-conference call if it makes sense. Email me and we can discuss details if you are interested. Best wishes.

  36. Gloria Asari

    I keep this list on my desk. It’s between some different work folders and every time I come across it I remind myself of the soft skills that are foundational to personal and professional success. Some skills may be innate but many others take conscious acknowledgement and practice. This is the one list that I refer to and always find a new interpretation.

    1. Lei Han Post author

      Harish,

      Thanks for your comment. Here is the research I did to come up with the 28 soft skills. Let me know if you have any questions or additional suggestions for research.

      1. Based on searching for Soft Skills on Google – there are a lot of perspective but no real consensus.
      2. Based on my 15+ years of work experience as a consulting – soft skills are critical to a consultant’s success. Also one of my key skills as a consultant is to be able to provide a definition and structure to something ambiguous. Soft skills fit in that category so I created my own soft skills definition and framework supported by first hand work experience with them.
      3. I published the original article on 28 soft skills in 2011 and receive a lot of reader feedback
      4. For my revision, I interviewed about 10 people in my professional network – people with deep experience and whom I respect to get their input. Some of them are now my Executive Authors for the Soft Skills Gym I am launching this month.

      What brings you to my 28 soft skills article? I look forward to your feedback

      Lei

  37. KISHOR CHAUDHARI

    this is really very worth imp info that you have provided here ,thanks for the same.
    my request to you that im decided to research in Soft Skills for undergraduate students so what skills are better to choose? would u plz guide me? send the details on provided email id

    1. Lei Han Post author

      Kishor, thanks for your comments and your question. Here are my thoughts on the key soft skills for undergraduates.

      Both self-management skills and people skills still apply but the following skills are the most important for a college student
      – Self management skills – empowered mindset, self-awareness, self confidence, emotion regulation, persistent, and perceptiveness
      – People skills – communication skills, interpersonal skills, teamwork skills, managing upwards, self promotion, dealing with difficult situations, and networking skills

      Your comments prompted me to think I should write a post of Top 10 soft skills for undergraduates. I will put it on my list of to dos and add the link here when I publish it. Hope that helps. Let me know if you have additional questions.

      Lei

  38. Linda

    Wow, what a great list! this made it so much clearer. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. I am printing this out so I can refer to it often and remind myself of especially the Tribal soft skills

  39. Lynn Marie

    I love this model. It really helps me focus on the boxes where I need the most development. I didn’t realize until I read through this article how much opportunity I had to work on my self-management skills. Thanks for reporting this great article!!!

  40. Marty Pollard

    This is a great list of soft skills. I agree with all of them and can’t (at the moment) think of any you missed. I was an engineering manager of a small group of about 12 engineers and technicians. While technical skills were important and required they were not enough to be successful in their jobs. We had to use customer service skills when supporting the technicians and managers of our production line.

  41. Lei Han Post author

    Thank you Tom for the comment and support. I love reading all the comments even ones that disagree with me. Only through discussion can we all improve. 🙂 I am working on a revision of this article and will publish it soon. Stay tuned.

    Lei

  42. Tom

    In a way, most of the soft skills that you’ve listed, to me, imply the ability to appreciate and recognize one’s soul and the ability to
    empathize with others, amongst other things.

    For altruistic reasons, I really do like this quote that I’ve heard (from an anime, no less) that goes something like this, “It’s not the
    smart or the strong that survive, but those who have the ability to adapt.”

    I really liked your post but especially the fact that you shed light on soft skills and in a sense synergy, and the fact that you took the
    time to share this information with others. If there is a category of people that “get it” I think that you would fit in that category quite
    well, if I’m permitted to say so.

    All of this, while listening to Frank Sinatra. Very epic combination, I think.

  43. LW Brown

    I might have missed this or off track but … would “time management” be a soft skill, if so would it come under something else – if not, please expound if possible. Thanks! Excellent post.

    1. Lei Han Post author

      Thanks for your comment. I agree that time management is important. I thought about including time management initially however to me, it’s still more of a hard skill like analytical skills. I define hard skills as those that have a set rules that everyone can follow (e.g., prioritize your work will help with time management). If you apply those rules in any situation you will improve. Soft skills however depends on human emotion or human interaction. While there are tips for how to improve soft skills (e.g., put yourself in the other person’s shoes), a person needs to figure out how to apply these tips to fit their style and the situation they are in.

      With that said, there is no right or wrong answer as to whether time management should be included or not. I know I am drawing an artificial line in the sand as to what soft skills mean to me. Time management whether it’s a soft or hard skill is important to one’s career success. Thanks again for taking the time to comment. Best wishes to your career success.

  44. R

    I think Soft skill is very important for successful manager. But I think this kind of skill is can not be study, only be or not to be… It only character and charismatic.

  45. Alex

    I hope I’m not spamming comments here but I just realised my example of De Bono Six Hat vs Governmental Debate would be classed as a hard skill. Something you can learn at school or in a book.

    But still, I think problem solving is a soft skill because how you approach a problem changes depending on a situation.
    Are the type of person to clear the paper jam from the photocopier, get an intern to do clear it or just kick it until it works for your one copy? =)

    1. Lei Han Post author

      Alex, I apologize for my very late reply. Thanks for taking the time to comment. These are great food for thoughts. Personally, I think what is considered a soft skill is an artificial line I drew in the sand. You can very well disagree and we can both be right. With that said, here are my two cents on your comments
      1. Problem solving – I consider this a hard skill especially when the problem is pertaining to a business issue or a work issues. What you described as problem solving above, I classify more as a management skills – ability to motivate and create a high performing team with people of varied skills, personalities, motivations, and work styles. This I agree is a soft skill
      2. Being observant and what you called “dot joining” are required in pretty much all of the people skills I listed, The ability to perceive or understand how another may be feeling is powerful in any people skills. I chose not to list it separately also because it is fundamental in many of the skills I did list. Part of being good at communications or influence starts with being observant of your audience. Again, I realize this is a choice I made to make the material widely understandable
      3. Resourcefulness – is it a skill or a results of many skills? I error to say it’s the latter. It is because you think out of the box, are creative, can work well with people that as a result, you can be more resourceful? Also how can someone because more resourceful?
      Lastly, I made this list using terms I think most people can relate to and based on how I think I can help people improve their skills. It’s hard to teach being observant or resourcefulness directly because they are hard to directly relate to a day to day work issues. I welcome any additional comments and also would love to hear how do you think people can best improve their soft skills. Best wishes and I look forward to reading your next comment.

      Lei

  46. Alex

    Hi,

    This was a great list. I just spent 3 hours going through and writing down my competencies for each one. (don’t worry they’re not listed here)

    To comment on your idea of problem solving as a skill, the engineer in me says that problem solving is a skill in itself. There are particular steps to being efficient in solving problems (being logical and rational helps) and not everyone is good at it. Think De Bono Six Hat vs Governmental Debate.

    How this fits into your two categories is not so clear because it’s broader than both. But I’ll try anyway:
    Problem solving for self comes after self-awareness. Knowing why you don’t do something doesn’t help if you don’t have the skills to fix it. The problem solving part comes into play where you identify the issue, then find the info/tools/person to fix it. The realm of life coaching I guess.
    The people category is the realm of every manager out there fighting people fires every day. Someone isn’t doing something right, someone is having a bad day, someone didn’t show up, or deeper, I have a difficult report that I can’t shift or fire (which is on your list). What you have to do to make them effective or to sideline them is a problem solving skill.

    Which brings me to a missing skill.
    Observation. And beyond observation, what I call ‘dot joining’ (if you have a better word other than causality I’m all ears). Noticing changes in people’s behaviour, noticing when/how people do, say things then also working out how that affects their actions, what that means and how to use it if need be are all very powerful tools. They link in with a lot of your items. ‘influence, coaching, management’ etc etc.

    You might say that it’s implicit in each of these things, and I agree, but for a lot of people it’s not.

    Some people might think they’re not a good manager, just a good communicator, but maybe they just aren’t that observant. Going from “this is what I think about this (because I’m guessing)” to “this is what I think about this because I noticed this this and this” is a basis of a good manager.

    Same with influence. Maybe you don’t think you’re good at influencing people, but are you observant enough to know HOW particular people can be influenced?

    Not great at selling even though you’re a
    great communicator? Maybe you’re not observing your buyer enough?

    Anyhow, food for thought. Women tend to be naturally more observant than men (studies back this) and I guess most people don’t think about being observant (or joining dots) much, but these are developable skills. Ask a poker player if they can get better at reading people.

    Lastly becoming good at observing people’s behaviour and good problem solving skills aren’t easy to develop, but they are very valuable and can put you ahead of the rest.

    Oh one other thing I just realised in this rant. Especially in this financial time and especially in the US (I’m in Australia). It’s resourcefulness.

    Being able to do the same things, get the same results without needing more of something is a great skill. Something I think we’re losing a bit.

    How many phone numbers can you remember off the top of your head?
    You have a problem but no one’s around to talk to, no internet, can you work it out in your own head?
    You’re a manager with a fixed head count. Who in your team can be pushed to put in more? Who wants to step up to up skill?

    Thinking to do more with less is again I think in that problem solving category. And in the position the global economy is in, people who are resourceful problem solvers should not have any issues getting a job. =)

  47. Arcola

    Some of what you list are indeed “soft-skills”: but soft-skills by definition should also refer to the rudimentary skills, such as; abilty to communicate by speaking and writing coherently / telephone etiquette / commom sense. Emotional Intelligence is arguably NOT a soft skill-it is not learnt or aquired easily and not all young workers would be expected to demonstrate this trait, which is usually aquired over time with the benefit of experience.

  48. Corey Clemons

    Reliance
    Traditional, life long, professional, and natural
    Son of Zeno of Citium
    Who loves family, being part of a team, and learning
    Who submissive to natural law, unmoved, and indifferent
    Who needs a song, youthfulness to be wise, and dance
    Who gives dreams, friendship, and innocence
    Who fears old age, the worst, and the lack of
    Who would like to see upheaval, every purpose, and another world
    Resident of Liberty Island
    Clemons

    After completing your bio-poem, read it over. Then reflect on how this soft skill will help you in your new career after graduation. 100 word minimum
    Reliance is being a part of a tradition which is the part of everyone’s life. It shows that you value a customary pattern which helps to enjoy your work schedule. Reliance is a duty and shows that “I can”. Reliance will take care of the minutes for making good judgments on or about the unexpected so the hours will take care of themselves. Your reliance to yourself will succeed and fail but with it you can do more and you will deserve it. The ability to be reliable will show a pattern of consistency which will aid in lifetime of learning and achievement.

  49. Emmanuel Holm

    I was kept oblivious to the fact that skills could actually be categorised in this manner but i am grateful i came into contact with this site that has enlightened me. Thanks a million.

  50. Kate

    Your list is very helpful; thank you for sharing it! Even though I have been training for many years, it’s good to review these skills as a refresher!

  51. Charles Plant

    You’ve done a great job in developing this list, particularly in splitting the self-management skills out from the people skills. I’ve had the list open on my desktop now for a week and keep coming back to it. The sad thing is that these are very difficult skills to develop and most companies lack a structured approach to helping employees develop them. These are not skills that can be learned in a classroom but only through conscious development.

    1. Lei Han Post author

      Thanks for your comment and support. These are definitely difficult skills to develop. I am constantly brainstorming on what else to do to help people develop these skills. My newsletter goes into some depth on how to improve these skills. I am also working on an e-book, so stay tuned

  52. Tosak

    I doubt some of them are fully qualified as ‘skills’. Perhaps partly. I saw them both in the 60-skill list and this one e.g. Patience, Self Confidence, Resilience, etc. These are rather ‘Qualities’ we look for in a job candidate.

    Great list by the way, especially the latter 20 ppl skills.

  53. Erica

    I am currently a student for medical assisting, and taking career development. We have to list a number of soft skills for this class. This page has absolutly made soft skills completely clear for me. Thank you!!

  54. Lyndsey

    I too saw the same list you referenced at the start of this page and thought to myself that it is such an arbitrary list that can certainly give a person the wrong idea as to what a soft skill is. Thanks for posting this to clarify for people!

    1. De'Tric

      Networking skills would have to be the most important skill. In the professional world I hear the “Its not what you know its who you know.” phrase all the time.

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