Professional People Skills – Work on You AND the Work

There is much press today about whether people skills (also known as soft skills) are considered during the hiring process. Do people skills count more than your occupational (aka hard skills)?

Quite honestly, to me the debate is both useless and a bit risky. Your professional career is in your hands. Hiring managers, teams of current employees, HR reps are people. They may consider people skills. Do you want to gamble that those interviewing you don’t consider people skills in making the choice? Whether they do it consciously or subconsciously, why bet that they won’t? Develop your professional people skills. Work on you AND the work. Be workplace ready!

Work on You AND The Work by:vaXzine

When to start? Yesterday. Developing your people skills can begin in school. In can happen in your everyday life — inside and outside of work. I was lucky enough to have a mother who demanded it of us. So when I graduated college with a BS Mathematics, I had been developing the interpersonal skills of my right brain while sharpening and expanding my left brain.

Is it too late to start? Never. I continue to learn and improve my people skills. You have infinite interactions with people and it costs nothing to learn “on the job” so to speak. Even those who debate whether or not interviewers consider people skills in the hiring decision, agree that people skills are expected and assessed for job assignments and promotions once you have the job.

How to start? The most productive first step is to understand your own personality type — for two reasons.

  1. You will interpret what other people say and do based on your own personality type.  It is your reference sheet.
  2. Knowing your type gives you limitless potential for adapting to others of a different personality type.  It is the fuel for success in teamwork, leadership, customer relations, and long term professional friendships.

Here is some valuable footage on personality type differences to spur your learning: GPS Your Brain to Work With Any Personality Type.

Get Started! Take a well respected personality indicator like The Kiersey Temperament Sorter and then use the knowledge in your daily interactions. People-skills are the conduit to delivering your occupational knowledge to those around you and to the company that employs you.

If you get stuck, you can always call me (or my mother) for help!

Warmest wishes,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach in This Technical World
Masters in Org. Psychology

Kate Nasser delivers her 20 years of experience and her natural intuition about people in inspirational keynotes, transformational teamwork and customer care workshops, and coaching for your success. Preview her new customer service training DVD Customer Service USA.

4 Responses to “Professional People Skills – Work on You AND the Work”

  1. Yun-Mei Lin says:

    Kate, I’ve been an appreciative reader of your posts and have gained so much from your advice and tips. I’d like to carry your theme a bit further than your “getting started.” The “People Skills” we all need to develop and maintain will also need to be used throughout our careers.

    It is not just a matter of landing the job. No matter what the nature of the job, whether it’s front-line customer service, back-end support, or management, we will always need to use our cultivated people skills – daily.

    I also want to bring up a sticky point which I hope doesn’t destroy all my credibility: don’t put all our emphasis on people skills to the detriment of whatever skills are necessary to do the job. Too often, I have seen truly competent and skilled people passed over for the perfect job (for them) because of a competitor with better soft skills. Unfortunately, after the job was awarded, the person performing the duties did not do well, because they simply weren’t equipped to do so. Again, the hiring officials are human, and probably went for the one with better people skills.

    These people skills are something we ALL need to learn and perfect, and use constantly through our careers. It should be a foundational skill set that becomes second-nature.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      I agree with you Yun-Mei that both occupational and people-skills are important. That is, honestly, why I titled this post “Work on You AND on The Work”. In fact, I think that your perspective actually stresses the importance of improving the people-skills. It does affect promotional decisions (rightly or wrongly) and you never know when. I can say with certainty that both occupational skills and people-skills are necessary to do any job.

      I also echo your point that it is a continuous process — not just for getting a job. I learn and improve my skills every single day.

      Many thanks for your contribution and bravo to your insights on self-improvement.

  2. Jen Kuhn says:

    Hi Kate,
    It’s funny that our interpersonal skills have been labeled “soft skills” when oftentimes they are the exact skills required to ensure success, both professionally and personally. A lack of these skills can cost one much more than employment.
    I’d agree that we should constantly strive to enhance our interpersonal skills. When approached in an open-minded manner, most people could identify opportunities for growth.
    I think a well-rounded employee possesses a well developed sense of self and interpersonal skills along with the necessary occupational requirements of their job.
    Thanks for another well written blog!

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