Advancements in areas such as artificial intelligence, increased emphasis on DEI, and the growing normalcy of remote work, all change how we interact with others and do business. As we emerge from the pandemic and embrace the future of work, it is more important than ever to focus on developing our fundamental human qualities. Personality traits like kindness and empathy, and characteristics like resilience: how you demonstrate these so-called soft skills in your work is a strong indicator of whether businesses and individual careers thrive and succeed.
People today are thinking more deeply about what kind of work culture they want to experience, and how they can best work to create and contribute to such a culture. For example, what communication style and leadership qualities matter to you? A recent LinkedIn poll conducted by LHH asked: What's the one SOFT skill you know you need to develop in 2022? Here are the skills that ranked the highest.
1/ Agility. Adapting to change. Being willing and open to new ways of working and thinking. It is hard to imagine a better time to be agile, so it’s not surprising that 24% of respondents list it as their top soft skill to develop in 2022. Change is constant. To be truly agile means being open to learning new skills and embracing new ideas. It means being energetic and forward thinking in your work. It also means displaying a willingness to be open and approachable, to collaborate. To make small talk and be curious about the people with whom you work.
2/ Communication. We depend on communication as a very foundation for how we work and conduct business. Excellent communication skills—including nonverbal (active listening skills) verbal, and written communication—are the cornerstone of safe and transparent relationships at work. It keeps people on the same page. Clear communication is required for relaying important information about projects and understanding of tasks. And, knowing the etiquette of communication with various tools such as email or apps and social media is key to ensuring business and relationships are healthy and productive. All reasons why 23% of poll respondents intend to boost this skill in 2022.
3/ Creativity. Of our poll participants, 19% rank creativity as the top soft skill to develop in 2022. People often think of creativity as something you have or do not have, but in fact this important skill can be learned. Adopting a creative mindset means having a more open mind, being curious. Perseverance is also a key aspect of creativity: continuing to work through a problem until you find a solution, without giving up or becoming frustrated. You can develop this skill by practicing a creative task that may not be related to your work, such as taking a painting or dancing class.
4/ Emotional intelligence. While passion is a wonderful trait to bring to any collaborative or creative endeavor, emotional intelligence means being able to manage your emotions so that they don’t become damaging. Emotionally intelligent people possess self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and general social skills. They're able to engage with others meaningfully and put themselves in the shoes of others to better understand their point of view. They not only have a handle on their own emotions, but they are able to influence positively the emotions of others. It is a prime leadership skill that everyone can benefit from in the workplace and beyond—and 33% of poll participants list it as their top up(soft)skilling priority.
The world of work is ever shifting, and now is a time of remarkable change in how we work, where we work, what tools we use, and how we gain and show understanding and empathy with our colleagues. It makes sense that the primary common factor in all the soft skills mentioned in the poll is openness to change and to new ways of thinking. Soft skills will be the drivers of success in the existing and future challenges and priorities across the board in the workplace, so 2022 is the perfect time to strengthen yours.