We may believe in the importance of soft skills but what may still stop us from developing them is perhaps the notion we are too late. I am here to show you it’s never too late to develop your soft skills. There are three common myths about soft skills development and here is why they are NOT TRUE.
Myth 1: People are born with better soft skills than others. I used to think this. When I first joined Deloitte, I was assigned a buddy, another consultant who was one year senior to me. I used to look at him in awe. He was only 24, but he seemed confident in any situation and knew just what to say to anyone he met, including Partners. I always felt tongue tight whenever I spoke to anyone new or senior. I remembered thinking I wished I was born with his skills.
Two years later, when I was applying to business school, he shared his essays with me that got him into Stanford School of Business. That’s when I found out about the adversities he experienced in his childhood and how he overcame them at a young age. Looking back, I realized it was easier for me to say he was born with those soft skills. That way I had an excuse for why I didn’t have them or couldn’t develop the same soft skills. In reality, he just grew up and learned his soft skills earlier than me.
Myth 2: I have to be an extravert to be good at soft skills. This one is a common misunderstanding. Yes, extraverts talk a lot, but they are by no means better at soft skills than introverts. I am a prime example. When I graduated from college, I was smart, hard-working, perfectionist, and introverted – a typical Asian engineer. I had to learn soft skills (e.g, network, speak up, self promote, negotiate, manage upwards, etc…) in consulting in order to survive in it. It was uncomfortable. I made lots of mistakes while practicing different soft skills, but I didn’t give myself the choice to not try. Succeeding in consulting was more important to me and I knew mastering soft skills was the key to advancing my career. I may have better soft skills now, but this doesn’t mean I changed into an Extravert. Let’s just say I know how to “turn it on” when I need to for my career. If I can do it, so can you!
Myth 3: “I am too old and too set in my ways to develop new skills”. The fact you are reading this article means you already don’t believe this myth. What this myth really translates to is
- “I have not experienced enough pains with my current career to want to change and go out of my comfort zone.”
- “I like my comfort zone. I don’t want to embarrass myself.”
- “I am not sure I can do it, so I rather not try.”
No one is too old to learn. If this was true, then we wouldn’t have 70 years old bodybuilders, marathon runners, or ballet dancers. We can do whatever we believe we can do. You can develop your soft skills at any age. It’s never too late to make a change for the better for yourself and for your career. My passion is to provide guidance and support for you along this new journey.
Ready to get started, then go to last Soft Skills 101 article – How to Improve your Soft Skills in 4 Steps
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