How to Improve Your Soft Skills?

How to improve your soft skills is an important question to answer for your career success.  It is also a tough question to answer in general as soft skills encompass many different skills in two general categories.

  • self management skills– those we use to manage our emotions, self-perception, and reactions to unexpected situations. Examples of these soft skills include stress management, self-confidence, emotion control, etc…
  • people skills – those we use to influence how others perceive / receive us, our work, our ideas. Examples of these soft skills include communication skills, leadership skills, teamwork skills, ability to deal with difficult personalities.

Any one of these soft skills will take time to improve. At a high level, here are five tips I recommend to start improving your soft skills today.

  1. Build self awareness – understand why you react to certain situations and people a certain way, why you become stressed, angry, shy, irritated, etc… In order to develop any self management skills, you first have to understand yourself. Change starts at the point of awareness
  2. Understand other people’s motivations – with any interaction with people, what you are dealing with is your motivation / insecurity and theirs. Any action that cause conflict in motivation or trigger yours or other person’s insecurity, will create a difficult or unexpected situation. By proactively trying to put yourself in their shoes before any interaction, you could communicate better and can better manage your reaction to unexpected situations
  3. Don’t try to eat a cow in one bite – this is a famous Chinese proverb that basically means don’t try to achieve too much in one step. You will set yourself up for failure and end up feeling defeated. You cannot improve all your soft skills over night, so identify one soft skill you want to start with.  Use my recent post on What are soft skills to identify one.  Start researching (books, blogs, etc…) and practice on that one skill. Once you make progress on one soft skill, it will give you the confidence to improve more on others a step at a time.
  4. It’s all about changing yourself not others – Some people may think improving soft skills can help you manipulate/change others’ actions. It’s not true. Improving soft skills is all about changing yourself, your perception, your approach to situations. Only when you change, will people’s reaction to you also change.
  5. Practice, Practice, Practice – soft skills are not something you can just study in a book to get better, improvement takes practice over time. Improving soft skills is fundamentally about changing your behavior and thought patterns toward yourself and others. So every next interaction you have with people at work is an opportunity to practice a soft skill

Want more on this topic? Then subscribe to my newsletter – How to Succeed Like an Executive – in-depth tips (not published on the blog) on how to improve your soft skills.

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Your Comments – What has been your biggest challenges in improving your soft skills? Do you think anyone can improve their soft skills or are some people naturally better than others?  I look forward to your comments.   I am always in your corner

– Lei

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Patrick Wasomi

I am so impressed with Lei Han’s Soft Skills improvement!.. Well, change starts with self!.. my question is how do one improve their appearance after you get all that done, because you can not change what’s natural, but one make it any better? The greying of Hair, ones hair receding etc, that is!!.. Because I have also found out your General out look, plays s huge role, before even you are spoken too. People judge you based on that, as inept!… Oh, he/she won’t serve the company for long, etc… please advise, I thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Jean Redding

My company is currently going through yearly Performance Review and I have to take my staff through the process and want to be supportive in my response to them and to motivate them. When a person lacks soft skills, is not motivated, has no drive, does not have a good reputation in the company and is only doing what they can get away with and no more. How can I get this over to them and advise them of what they should be doing to improve. It is easier with hard skills as I can identify the skill gap and… Read more »

Yves Barbasina

Great Great Great article


Lei — In comment 10, did you really mean nuisance? “You cannot convey the right message or tone if you don’t now the nuisance of what the words mean…”


Kindly suggest how to improve confidence to communicate? I just read all the details regarding soft skills but can’t develop them. Having all exp. knowledge .pls help


If a lack of self-confidence is hindering the development of soft skills, how do i overcome that?.

j orr

stress managment is an area i really need to improve on. i think learning new ways to manage my time and learning ways to deal with procrastination will help in this area.

Y. Vignola

I would like to overcome my fear of public speaking. I am planning to practice with my friends and family and possibly join Toast masters.

Vuot Nguyen

Please give me some way to improve softskills. Thanks alot………..

jaya shree

sir, i am not confident to speak in english. and i have a least amount of words in can i improve it???


Quite useful tips and the list of soft skills too is helpful. I will appreciate if you could also suggest activities and games to develop soft skills or at least awareness.

Freska Tifah

Please send me some informations

Kate Kavanagh

I need to be more patient with co workers. I need to learn soft skill


I want to improve in soft skills.please advice me with simple methods.


Thankyou.I want to speak in English fluently and naturally.I am trying since two years but I can’t. Please help me with simple ways of learning skills.