June 29

The Secret to Great Soft Skills


When you think of soft skills, what comes to mind? I use to hate the term "soft skills" because many people would devalue them due to the word "soft". Then I realized that the reason people discounted soft skills is because they do not understand them and the massive impact they have on success, satisfaction, relationships, trust, and so many other critical elements in life and work.

To better define soft skills, here is a list of soft skills I help people develop in themselves:

  • Thinking:
    • Decision making
    • Critical thinking
    • Abstract thinking
    • Problem solving
    • Curiosity mindset
    • Consequential thinking
    • Strategic thinking
  • Relationships:
    • Teamwork
    • Connection
    • Collaboration
    • Relationship building
    • Empathy
  • Interpersonal communication:
    • Crucial conversations
    • Conflict resolution
    • Giving and receiving feedback
    • Communicating with different personalities
  • Leadership:
    • Trust building
    • Influence
    • Innovation
    • Coaching
    • Team building
    • Active listening
    • Delegation
    • Business story telling
    • Alignment
    • Setting direction
    • Vision casting
  • Professionalism:
    • Positive attitude
    • Work ethic
    • Personal ownership
    • Presence (“showing up” in a professional manner)
    •  Internal motivation

OK...I know that is a large list. The reason I share it is to bring to light the reality of how many different soft skills there are. If you look at these, you can see how important they are to someone's success in living a good life and achieving what they desire.


What do you see that might be common ground in the various soft skills? There are many but my focus is on self-awareness, self-management, and self-direction, the three major components of emotional intelligence (EQ).

EQ, or emotional intelligence competencies and skills, are the foundation that the vast majority of these soft skills are developed from. How does that work?

  • Self-awareness - the ability to understand your emotions and the emotions of others. Recognizing patterns in yourself and other people. Be aware of how you are showing up for other people and the impact this is having. How do emotions impact your thinking processes? How does the emotional environment impact relationships? How are you reacting (or responding...the better approach)?
  • Self-management - navigating emotions, being internally motivated, practicing optimism, applying consequential thinking. All of these EQ skills are a part of self-management. The more they are developed, the better the self-management skills, and the fewer breakdowns (times when people react in ways that are not ideal).
  • Self-direction - practicing empathy and having a clear overarching purpose. These provide capacity for relational and communication skills and a great compass to help people stay on track.

This is how EQ (emotional intelligence) is used to build soft skills.

EQ Assessments

The place to start is by assessing your EQ. Numerous studies have shown the correlation between high EQ scores and high performance.

This directly impacts success and satisfaction. These are key insights into what makes for highly successful outcomes in life and in work.

There are a few EQ good assessments out there. DON'T be fooled by someone claiming they have EQ included in their personality assessment. They are two very different things. A true EQ assessment measures critical EQ competencies based in the neuroscience of how our emotions work with the rest of our brain. You would not try to check your blood pressure by taking your temperature. You need the right tool for the right purposes.

We use the SEI-LTC (Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence) assessment. There are multiple versions of this assessment with a robust set of additional custom tools to measure motivation, influence, trust styles, resilience, brain profiles, and much more. Here is an example of what the results might look like:

The Power of EQ

EQ is the easiest skill set to learn and grow. It is also the most predictive of success, 2-4 times more predictive than IQ (multiple research studies).

Everything starts with assessing. Assessments, especially EQ assessments, provide insights you cannot get anywhere else. These insights are the most predictive of success and the most helpful in growing soft skills that lead to greater success and satisfaction in life and in work. We have many podcast episodes that could give you additional insight.

The link between EQ strength and soft skill effectiveness is undeniable. If you want to enhance your leadership, influence, success, satisfaction, then EQ competency growth is the place to start. Think of this as a journey. Once you start down this path, the benefits just keep coming and multiply the more you engage. Enjoy the journey, this journey is well worth it!


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