It’s never to early to start thinking about a promotion at work, and these examples of soft skills will help you land the gig.
Chances are that the combination of your hard and soft skills landed you your job. While it’s important to keep strengthening those hard skills, it’s most likely your soft skills that will secure your next promotion. Use these examples of soft skills to prove your promotability in the workplace.
Even if you’re in your first week of a new job, “it’s never too early to start thinking about a promotion,” according to Denise Dudley, a behavioral psychologist and founder of SkillPath Seminars.
Examples of soft skills
Soft skills are desirable qualities that are learned throughout one’s life from their environment rather than their formal education. Examples of soft skills include communication, leadership ability, critical thinking, creative thinking, coachability, curiosity, time management, work ethic, emotional intelligence, positive attitude, and the ability to work under pressure.
Observe behaviour so you don’t annoy your boss
“The old saying is ‘treat people the way you would want to be treated,’ but really you should treat people the way they want to be treated,” Dudley said. “And you can figure that out…you can figure out how people want things.”
Using observational skills, you can come to understand the behaviours that please your boss and those that don’t. By knowing how your boss likes to work, you’ll be able to adjust your actions to fit her preferences.
For example, would your boss rather hear problems at the end of the day, or should you wait until tomorrow morning to bring them up? Is she a morning person, or is she a little more chipper after her first cup of coffee? If your boss is a morning person, feel free to strike up some chit chat when she walks into the office. If not, wait until she perks up to bring up that new project you’re working on. But you won’t know how to act until you use observational skills to judge her mood.
“Being able to read people is very important to being promoted because you need the people in the positions of power to remember you favourably,” Dudley said. “You want to be the person they put forward when promotion time comes so that you’ve got your champions out there.”
Use observational skills during meetings
Using emotional intelligence at work is extremely important so that you possess enough social awareness to pay attention to others. Instead of being wrapped up in your own head, observe the other people at the conference table. What are they bringing up? What do they like to talk about? When do they seem irritated? When do they seem like they’re having fun?
“Becoming a really good behavioural observer is important to your career and it’s also important if you’re going to get along with people,” Dudley said.
Monitor how people react to your stories
Being a good storyteller is a highly undervalued skill, according to Dudley. But being a good storyteller is more than just knowing how to deliver the beginning, middle, and end with an interesting arc. You should also be paying attention to your audience, whether you’re talking to one person or five.
“People give you clues all the time about the kinds of stories they like to hear and the kinds of stories they don’t like to hear,” Dudley said.
Again, using observational skills will give you the clues you need to know how a person feels about a certain story. Make sure to take note if someone seems extra interested, laughs extra loud, or pays less attention than usual.
If someone seems intensely invested in a story about animals, make a note to bring up animals next time you see them. If they are someone who loses interest during a long story, make sure to tell quick and to-the-point stories.
Fun stories that people enjoy will make them like talking to you more. Boring or irrelevant stories will make you less likeable, and thus less promotable.
Help your coworkers even when it’s not your job to do so
“Your bosses are going to be the ones to get you promoted, but you certainly don’t want coworkers coming in and saying ‘yea, but she’s really difficult to work with,’” Dudley said.
Dudley reminds professionals that the interviewing process definitely doesn’t stop when you land the job. In fact, every day is an interview for your next promotion.
Each work day is an opportunity to impress people and it’s important to hold that mindset toward every person in the office, including the coworkers you would be leaving behind.
“People only start performing for their bosses because that’s who holds the keys, but honestly it’s just as important that everybody else has a high opinion of you,” Dudley said. “Make sure that you’re the person everybody would be glad to see be promoted.”
What you do in the office really counts. If your coworker seems overwhelmed, offer to help them out. If there’s a person you see in the office every day but don’t know, introduce yourself. Be a problem solver, a team player, a person who reaches out with solutions rather than problems.
Solve problems for your team
Speaking of being a problem solver, it’s truly critical to never create problems for your team, only solutions.
One of the most important soft skills is the ability to solve problems. If you go to your boss with a solution to the problem every time, they’re going to think of you immediately when a promotion presents itself.
Being a problem solver frames you as a more positive person, which is most likely the type of person that your boss wants to work more closely with.
Embrace change in the office
Adaptability and flexibility are crucial examples of soft skills that will get you promoted. Don’t be the person that talks about the good old days when the company did things one way. That type of speak links you with the past in someone’s mind, instead of the future.
Embracing new technology or practices shows that you can pivot and are flexible.
Welcoming change is also linked to being a good problem solver. If change poses a challenge, be the person that jumps in and figures it out.
“Otherwise you get seen as someone who’s holding back progress or who’s not helping the organization move forward,” Dudley said.
Remember that written communication skills are just as important as oral ones
Even if you’re a blast to talk to or are able to convince anyone of anything during a debate, your poor written communication skills can severely hurt your chances of getting promoted.
No matter how smooth you are over the phone, a poorly written email tarnishes your personal and professional image.
“I’m noticing that written communication skills are getting worse,” Dudley said. “A good way to stand out is to know your grammar.”
This article first appeared in The Ladders.