What are soft skills?
The term ‘soft skills’ is often discussed as being a professional necessity in many sectors. Some organisations particularly those in the service industry may request soft skills when they are hiring new personnel. Similarly, some individuals may boast of their excellent soft skills when writing their curriculum vitae. Having excellent soft skills may sound very good, but what exactly are they?
Soft skills give an indication of an individual’s overall communication and people skills. Often described as emotional intelligence, they describe how a person interacts with other people. Within the working environment, an individual’s soft skills encapsulate how that person connects with their clients and colleagues. They can be difficult to accurately define however, they’re equally as important as many other professional skills.
Soft skills are an essential component to the professional credibility of an individual or an organisation. When performed correctly, soft skills can be instrumental in attracting and retaining the right clients. They are the fundamentals of human communication yet many still fail to grasp their importance. However be warned, underestimating the significance of these basic skills could be the equivalent of committing professional suicide.
As a service industry, the use of soft skills is applicable to the security sector where human interaction is commonplace. They can be the difference between a potentially volatile situation being antagonised or diffused and may be effectively used to subtly pacify a potential aggressor.
Many security operatives must navigate a precarious balance between being friendly and non-intimidating while also remaining assertive. The professional security operative should be adept with dealing with people and understand the importance of etiquette, knowing exactly when and how to apply the required level of assertion in accordance with the prevailing situation.
It is difficult to precisely describe what soft skills are due to the number of variables involved. This is particularly relevant for those providing close protection and residential security services where the ability to 'read the client' and adopt the right approach based on the personality traits and specific needs of the individual client (acknowledging this and acting upon it can be regarded as a soft skill). There should never be a one-size-fits-all approach but following these basic principles will help:
- Always take pride in your appearance and personal hygiene
- Exude self-confidence yet remain humble, always being polite and courteous
- Always display a calm temperament remaining tactful and diplomatic
- Remain friendly yet know when to be assertive
- Avoid overfamiliarity
- Always go above and beyond in the execution of your duties
Working on problem-solving skills, diplomacy and conflict management whilst consistently providing an impeccable level of customer service will undoubtedly build stronger relationships with colleagues and clients. In essence, good soft skills will help to build a strong rapport, instilling a sense of confidence and trust with those you work with.
Conversely, a deficiency in soft skills can seriously hinder your potential and damage any future opportunities. A lack of soft skills can cause a breakdown in team cohesion and instigate a toxic working environment which may lead to a termination of your employment. Therefore, you can dramatically influence your career by the way you interact with others.
Good soft skills are an essential requirement for those working in the private security industry especially for those providing close protection services or those employed on a residential security team where the client expects a professional service of the highest quality.
Good soft skills can present an opportunity to endear yourself to your colleagues and more importantly, your client and their associates. They can also be the difference between you remaining on a particular contract or being dismissed.
Soft skills are an indication of an individual’s emotional intelligence and their ability to interact with others. They help to cement relationships building confidence and trust - their professional significance should never be underestimated or overlooked.