Soft skills for success at work

Do you ever wonder why some people go to the top in business, politics, education, or any other endeavor? Is there something special about a business CEO, a university president, or a successful political leader?  Dropping down a notch, what makes a good middle manager, an effective administrator, or a good supervisor at work?
The obvious answer is that these people bring abilities and skills – e.g., knowledge and   technical training – to the job.  Certainly, these are visible things on which they are evaluated, not to mention the results they achieve on the job.
However, there is probably lots more to it than the visible things.  In fact, it is estimated that the so-called “soft skills” – such as maturity, integrity,     self-image, and motivation – account for as much as 90%        of the puzzle. In 1995, Daniel Goldman published a bestseller entitled Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.  In short, the thesis of the book is that emotional stability (and all that it entails) will be more apt to catapult one to success in a job than a high IQ or technical competency.
While business or technical skill is definitely a pre-requisite, it’s one’s own emotional stability as it relates to dealing with other people in an organization that makes the difference between a merely competent leader or manager and a great one.
What does it mean to have poor emotional intelligence (EQ) or poor soft skills?  It can mean that a certain individual does not know how to positively interact with others.  Perhaps, he or she has a poor sense of timing, an inability to stay on task, an inability to understand another person’s point of view, or makes an improper emotional response to a stressful situation at work.
Dr. Charles Perry holds the Russell Chair in Manufactur-  ing Excellence and is an Engineering Technology and Industrial Studies professor at MTSU. He teaches a course called Technical Project Manage- ment and Soft Skills.  Dr. Perry notes that of the three main attributes of human behavior (IQ, personality type, and EQ), the only one that training can improve is EQ or soft skills.      Dr. Perry insists that although emotions are not typically       discussed in the business world, they should be because human behavior in all circumstances   is strongly affected by emotion.
Dr. Perry suggests there are two important aspects of EQ or soft skills.  First, there is self-awareness with its key element being realizing how one’s behavior affects others. It is inaccurate to think everyone responds to situations the same way you do.  Furthermore, we are responsible for perceiving how others actually react to     us, and not how we think       they react.  A person with good      self-awareness proceeds slowly upon first meeting a person to determine that person’s agenda or interest.  A person with high soft skills constantly observes body language, intonation, and facial expressions to adjust his responses to enhance the other person’s social comfort level.  He has to be a good listener.
The second important aspect of soft skills is how one manages his or her emotions.  Instead of denying, hiding, or overcompensating for mistakes, the high soft skills person is    not so insecure to admit a mistake.
How does a person find out if he is deficient in soft skills?  Dr. Perry suggests  taking an evaluation test, talking to co-workers, finding a mentor; and once deficiencies are determined, then face the facts without rationalizing and put a realistic plan in place to improve those deficient areas.
Dr. Perry says soft skills are not technical skills associated with business operations, ac- counting, engineering, law, retail, banking, math, science, manufacturing, etc.  Among the most important soft skills that Dr. Perry identifies are social skills.