Attendees at the September 2016 Administrative Professionals Conference focused on the following soft skills: listening, collaboration, body language, and critical and crucial conversations. Here are some important takeaways to help you improve each of these crucial skills.
When someone else is speaking, most of us are thinking about our response. But formulating a reply is guaranteed to take our attention away from what's being said. Instead, imagine you'll need to convey this information to a third party after your conversation has ended. This is a great motivator for really paying attention!
When a group of people work harmoniously together, building on each other's energy and ideas to solve a problem or complete a project, that's true collaboration. Good collaborators take everyone's ideas seriously. They realize that just because it's not the way they would do something doesn't mean an idea has no merit. They're always willing to pitch in. And even if they're not thrilled with their part of a task, they complete it on time and to the best of their ability.
Studies have shown that not only is more than half of all communication conveyed through posture and gestures, but body language is a better predictor of a person's intent than words or tone of voice. People who use body language well don't fidget—they don't shake their legs, tap their fingers on a desk or touch their face. All those gestures convey nervousness. It's better to try to relax, be still and use one's hands only to emphasize important points.
Critical and Crucial Conversations
A crucial conversation is a discussion during which emotions are likely to get out of hand. Often, we avoid these conversations, or mishandle them. The most important thing you can do during a critical conversation is to not pass judgment. To diffuse an emotionally charged situation you might ask, "What is your biggest concern about this issue?" or "Can you explain why you've come to xyz conclusion?" rather than reacting with anger or disdain. A level head will always be the best way to win the day.
Remember these tips, and remember, too, that when you want to communicate and collaborate as effectively as possible—soft skills are your ticket to success!