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9 Academic ‘Soft Skills’ you MUST Learn to Succeed in Life

If you think the curriculum of your specific classes is the only thing you “learn” in formal education, you are sadly mistaken. All education also focuses on building a large series of soft skills. Academic soft skills are essential for later success in business and life.

Developing these ‘soft skills’ will happen whether you realize it or not when you are in college. There is an increasing emphasis on non-traditional methods of education. Due to this, it is important to take a moment and think about the skills that are not listed on a class syllabus. The soft skills.

Many of these skills are also habits. These 'soft skill' habits are things you can consciously work to implement at any time. Regardless of lack, or breadth, of real world experience. You will never improve these soft skills, unless you make a conscious effort to do so.

So, without further ado here is a list of 9 soft skills that are essential to your success in business and life.

1. Working with a Team

Regardless of where you end up working, you will be presented with a mix of different personalities and backgrounds. This makes teamwork a core requirement to get ahead in business.

There is a reason teamwork appears on many job requirements. Business requires you to meet common goals with people you might otherwise have differences with. To succeed in any group task you will need to hear everyone’s opinions and ideas to come to the right decision.

“The strength of the team is each member. The strength of each member is the team.” Phil Jackson

According to Forbes, teamwork is essential for morale, output quality, and retention. Working effectively as a team will allow you and your teammates to reach your goals.

When you are in college, group projects and presentations are bound to occur. Take this group effort as a real life application for teamwork within the workplace on a future date.

Finally, spending time as part of a sports team, club, society, or group, will help you hone your collaberation skills.

2. Presentation

Standing up in front of your peers to present a paper or project can seem frightening and overwhelming at first. But the more you do so, the easier it will be and your nerves will soon disappear.

These soft skills of presentation apply directly to job interview skills. They apply to formal presentations you could have to do for your career. Being at ease with yourself presenting in front of others is a soft skill deeply embedded in the business world.

You will need to be confident, speak clearly, and dress in a presentable way. These little things can add up to a lot of increased success in life.

3. Decision Making

Decision making is an essential skill for leaders. But it important for more than just 'leaders'. The ability to be decisive, and make the "right" choice more often than not, is a key to life.

“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” – George Patton

No one likes to work for, or with, someone who is incapable of making a decision. Wishy-washy people who seem scared to make a choice and face possible consequences.

In fact, sometimes the decision itself does not even matter. By making some choice, sticking with it and moving on, you are more effective than those who agonize over decisions. It is good to think about important decisions but bad to spend too long weighing the intricacies of a choice.

4. Time Management

How to properly manage your time (and your schedule) is an important part of the college experience.

In college you will have to put your studies before your social life. College requires you to be prepared for exams and assignments.

College life also necessitates solid time management. It teaches many important things such as creating to-do lists, setting goals, and giving yourself time limits for tasks.

Proper time management in college will transfer into the workforce. All jobs require you to prioritize tasks on a daily basis and prepare for larger goals.

5. Adaptability

Adaptability is an important skill to have for any career path.

Flexibility is needed for positive change and growth within an organization. As said on careercast.com, adaptability is key in today’s work force as well as the job market. This is due to the ever changing technology and needs of a business.

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” Charles Darwin

Students who move from their home to attend school will already be predisposed to adapting to a new lifestyle and new challenges. College helps to ease these growing pains.

It is natural to resist any change at first. That is part of human nature. But the more change you have experienced in your life, the less of a' "shock to the system" new change might entail.

6. Humor

Humans are not robots. We like to laugh and have fun, even in a work environment. This can make humor one of the essential soft skills to get ahead in life.

However, it is also a soft skill that is fraught with peril.

There are many huge "no -no's" when it comes to humor in business: making inappropriate jokes, poorly timing humor, using self deprecating humor and thinking you are being funny when you are not. Those small humor faux pas can do far more harm to your career than help.

Using humor the right way, however can be beneficial.

When used the ‘right way’ in a business environment humor can:

  • Defuse tense situations.
  • Relieve stress in group situations.
  • Drive home a point.
  • Influence others.
  • Increase sales.
  • Increase 'likeability' to strangers.

When it comes to the soft skill of humor it business it is essential that you are actually funny. Not offensive and good natured.

7. Problem Solving

After getting hired for a job, you will receive training for the required role. Despite having training or any previous experience, you will need to be able to solve your own problems.

Again and again, the impossible decision is solved when we see that the problem is only a tough decision waiting to be made.

College teaches problem solving in areas such budgeting and time management. Additionally, every major essay requires the soft skills of critical thinking and problem solving.

Regardless, every year you are in college you will be facing many problems to solve and many decisions to make. As a matter of fact, the top thirty jobs require the use of complex problem solving skills on a day to day basis. These are the jobs that are typically the highest paying too.

When you get to the workplace, you will be making decisions based upon the good of the team and the good of the organization. Deciding what is best will be determined by the overall goal and the individual situation. It is no wonder that employers put problem solving skills as one of the top ten skills to have for any role.

8. Diplomacy

College is one of the places where you learn to work well with others. It also gives free rein to express your opinions. Through trial and error in college, many will begin to see the benefits of using the soft skill of diplomacy.

This soft skill has a lot more bearing on the business world than many might think.

When negotiations in life take on a “winner-takes-all” or “scorched earth” earth philosophy, even the winner will deal with repercussions of an unhealthy living or working environment.

It can often be much better to build on the soft skill of diplomacy. This often means convincing others rather than forcing change. This means giving up some small concessions to allow the other party to, “save face”. It means avoiding escalations and breakdowns in communications.

9. Research Skills

The Internet makes research easier than ever. As it becomes easier to be good at research, employers are beginning to expect more from in employees regarding this soft skill. Finding common and quick answers to a myriad of topics you may be presented with, is only the start. Many managers expect employees to quickly assess a situation, gather in depth information and seek multiple perspectives, and present their results in a timely manner.

Over the course of your formal education, you will develop all sorts of skills within your course of study and degree. But it is the soft skills that will help you on a day to day basis within your future job or career.
There well over a hundred total academic soft skills. All of these important soft skills can have huge impact on your life and business, but are rarely formally taught in class. They are skills you need to build through 'osmosis' or decide to consciously work to improve.

What soft skills have your found to be most useful in your life?

What soft skills are not on this list, but should be?

Please share your favorite soft skills on the list, or add to the list in the comments below.

About the Author

This article was written by Laura Carter, a former educator and writer of dissertationwritingservices.org. She developed a strong learning habit and loves to share her experience. Follow carterlaura15 to see more of her works.

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Developing these ‘soft skills’ will happen whether you realize it or not when you are in college.




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