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How I learned from project managers the secrets to building soft skills
Listen to the wisdom in your audience, you may be surprised
As a speaker, I have all the answers.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
A few months back I spoke to PMI Metrolina. We had a discussion on building soft skills. They are also known as power skills. They shared some enlightening secrets.
From preparing for a networking event to a job interview, role play can get you prepared. Grab a buddy and run through some scenarios.
A few years ago I had to put someone on warning. I dreaded this conversation. Another leader had me role-play. The practice really helped me get ready.
I heard a speaker joke once, “If we had a class on listening no one would show up.” Unfortunately, they are right. We strive to be better speakers. When we should focus on listening.
A lady named Vivian shared an insight from her son. “He told me we need to listen with your eyes.” Everyone was silent. It felt like a mic-drop moment.
Another member of the audience shared this gem. “Ask people who don’t like you for feedback.” Initially, I wasn’t sure about this.
They elaborated, “Your friends will say nice things about you. Others will describe your faults.” That made sense. We want to get better so we need to hear the truth.
The project managers explained how they mentor new people. They coach them along and share observations. Bring them along slowly.
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As a developer, I have been mentored and tried to mentor others. Recently as I have been learning Vue.js development. A co-worker has been mentoring me and sharing his insights. It helps us learn faster and builds a team.
When you want to get better at public speaking start with Toastmasters. There are clubs near you. Weekly meetings allow you to practice. It is always an encouraging environment.
For many of us, walking into a room full of strangers can be intimidating. Networking can really test our soft skills. Our previous recommendation of role-playing can help.
Remember the goal is to meet people. Not shake everyone’s hand. Or collect business cards. Find someone to have a good conversation with. Start small and build your confidence.
When you volunteer you can develop your soft skills. As well as do some good in your community. It is a win-win.
One of the project managers shared how she enjoyed volunteering. She said it gave her ample opportunity to develop professionally. Plus the organization benefitted from her project management skills too!
Books have so much to offer us. Want to learn how to facilitate meetings? There are many books that you can pick up.
The best book for soft skills is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. He teaches the simple things we can do to relate better. I re-read this classic at least once a year.
There are numerous ways to develop your soft skills. This group of project managers shared some options. What area do you want to focus on? Consider these suggestions. Then list three to five others.
Great teams run on power skills. Work on yours to contribute more to the team. It will pay dividends in your career.