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Soft Vs Hard Skills

by veo

We have been facing different challenges in different stages throughout our academic, social and work lives. All these will be either the “Soft” or “Hard” skills which will govern our success in either areas we pursue. In order to achieve success, we shouldn’t be concentrating on the “HARD” skills alone which we describe as your “Technical” skills in your own domain expert areas. We will need to build on our “SOFT” skills. The questions that we need to ask ourselves are “What are the Pros and Cons of Soft vs Hard Skills or vice versa?” and “Which is more important?” How do we unleash our inner Soft Skills Strength in any arena?

The followings are some and not limited to areas that I found more appropriate for further discussions for anyone who wish to build on their Soft Skills which will be complimenting their Hard Skills in the Business and Social World!

  1. Customer Assessment skills (Mentality and Reaction)
  2. “Need Vs Want” Thought Analysis skills
  3. “Cause and Effect” Impact Analysis skills
  4. Mental Vs Physical Observation skills
  5. “Listen, Digest and Query” skills
  6. Team Building skills
  7. “Share” vs “Take” skills

All the above are some ingredients or points that I have experienced throughout my Social and Business work arena. So, this doesn’t contribute to the full range of Soft Skills that most people understand. Instead, these are the areas that I believe we need to build on as foundation towards greater heights.

“Hard” skills can be obtained through a series of structured in-class or online lecturing and tutoring. Whereas “Soft” skills learning and sharpening, on the other hand, are not that straight forward. You will have to undergo a series of interaction and scenarios to fully understand how each areas will have impact on the end result. To fully maximise the above, we have to first understand ourselves in terms of our inner natural personality and characters. How do we leverage on the following to be more successful.

1. Customer Assessment skills (Mentality and Reaction)

Every one may have already been in this position before one way or the other but how many of you really understand what exactly is the Customer’s mentality and reaction towards certain engagement? Why is there an co-relation between a customer and supplier relationship? An individual can be a customer at one end and also a supplier on the other hand, this is so if we are an intermediary business who rely on suppliers for their products to fulfill our production and sell it to our customers (end products consumption).

So, how would you be able to assess a customer’s request and mentality? This can be accomplished or fulfilled through the fostering of an interactive conversation with the customers in the following areas:

  • Learn to interact efficiently with Q & A
  • Gather information with proper data capture
  • Understanding the input and output results of the customer business activities
  • How would the customer requires your assistance?
  • What are the Critical Success Factor (CSF) and Key Performance Indicator (KPI) from the customer viewpoint?
  • Demand and Supply model
  • Need basis with Value-added services

In summary, If you are able to gather the above points, you will be able to understand how the customer’s requirements and NEEDs instead of WANTs be fulfilled for a long-term Value-Added services. This will be discussed in the next section.

2. “Needs Vs Want” Thought Analysis Skills

What are the differences between the two and their final end results? How will this factor impact your long-term relationships with your customers (either external or internal). Through my past observation and experiences, “Want” thought is usually arises from the Human nature and desires! This is not a long-term requirements as this will only arise due to some of the following factors.

  • Peer pressure
  • Environment, Social and Technological advancement
  • Internal physical and mental desire
  • Product Evolution

I have only list the above factors that I have faced and encountered from my past experiences. The above may not be the final factors that affects the human nature and desires for the “Want” thought. Please bear in mind that it is not in any order of importance. Instead if you do understand this, it will definitely help you in analyse situation. This is an area that is not very straight forward as individual may or may not even know what is their “needs” or what do they “want”? That’s the obstacles that everyone has to overcome and clear the path. Until that time, you will probably be satisfying your customers through the “Want” instead of the long-term “Needs”.

In summary, “Needs” are long-term requirements that will build Value-Added services towards achieving certain objectives such as Cost Control, Cost Savings, Profit leaping, etc. Meanwhile, the “Want” will only be able to satisfy the short-term and unrealistic value that may not even impact anything except the human desire nature.

3. “Cause and Effect” Impact Analysis Skills

It may seem that this may not have any great impact for the success of individual utilizing their own inner Soft Skills in the Social and Business world. But I strongly believe on this and I have already faced a couple of scenarios which have hinder the progress of certain assigned projects.

Let’s look at how “Cause” can have certain “Effect” on Customer / Supplier relationships. In this universe, we are always surrounded with the “Cause” and “Effect” results which not many of you may have encountered during this lifetime but it will most likely happen in the business world. If you do not understand or have mistaken the “Needs” of the customer, the “Effect” will multiply when you are about to deliver the end products or results.

The worst scenarios will probably a total rejection from the customers and this in turn will have a very great impact on the company’s profit and loss margin. Therefore, in order not to fall into this trap. You will have to look further into your inner Soft Skill to assist you in determining the “Needs” and the impact on this. Please bear in mind, this is not just 1 factor that may affect the overall result but without proper TEAM work will also lead to the negative results.

In summary, “Cause” will always lead to the direct “Effect” on the end results. It may be a very huge impact if this is not handled cautiously through proper Tracking and Analysis work. In order to achieve this and also unleash your strength within, nobody will be more successful with the cohesiveness of TEAM effort!

4. Mental Vs Physical Observation Skills

Most of you may be wondering why is “Mental” and “Physical” Observation skills are also part of the Soft Skills in my context. You may also be wondering how will Mental observation being carried out during the social and business interaction session. Why is Mental observation is more accurate than physical observation skills? This will definitely bring us back the “Need” and “Want” though analysis skills. We did say that “Need” is more a long-term requirements than “Want” which is only a human nature desire on a very short-term basis.

So, Mental will probably be working hand in hand with the “Need” analysis technique which will provide an insight understanding of what exactly the other party’s “Need” in the long-term requirements. But not every individual will be able to exercise this skill unless you are fully aware of how exactly Mental Observation skills work?

Mental in itself means nothing but it you coupled with the “Need” analytical skills to gather information, you will be able to outweigh the “Physical” observation results. But there are incidents or situation that prohibit you from maximizing or exercising the former skill. I have only managed to master this skill through extensive Social networking and interaction with people. Not just interaction but gathering and analyzing on each individual’s “Need” Vs “Want”. This can be done through the series of points listed in the sub-heading of “Need” Vs “Want” Thought Analysis Skills. This skill will need to be sharpened through full interaction with others and not through any books or article which explains the process.

In summary, Mental Observation skill doesn’t stand out by itself but will require coupling with the “Need” Analysis skill in order to fulfill the end results. This is targeting on the long-term requirements of the customers.

5. “Listen, Digest and Query” Skills

There are many times when I was involved in the group conference calls or meetings in either the business or the social work environment, I always faced with different categories of associates, staff or team members. Some may be very involved in asking a lot of questions, some may be providing a lot of explanation or answers and some even just quietly sit through the entire session without anybody notice his / her existence.

Therefore, it may not be very effective if you are always the person who is the Inquirer, the Speaker or the Listener. The worst thing will be the last category which will be the “ALL YES” group of audience. As this group will just accept anything along the way but back out when things not in favour of the right directions. So, in order to provide or unleash this, you will definitely need to learn the “Listen, Digest and Query” skills which allow you to capture all requirements at the fullest.

Once you have exercise the “Listen” technique, you will be able to listen and capture the right information for the right decision to be made at the later stage! When you have managed this part, the “Digest” portion is where you will analyze and evaluate the captured information before next level of confirmation. If during this time, any uncertainties arises, you will be able to “Query” more on the presented information and clarify on the accuracy of it. Most of the time, a lot of people will just jump into final conclusion after the “Digest” level which may or may not have unexpected uncertainties which may surface later.

In summary, “Listen, Digest and Query” should be exercised at all times whether are you in a Social gathering or the Business meetings. This will definitely eliminate any unwanted conflicts at the later stage and foster a better relationships in a long-term basis.

6. Team Building Skills

Throughout my entire years either in the Social, Volunteer or Career arena, I truly believe that nobody can survive in a “Lone Ranger” mentality or world! Everyone needs everyone to fulfill the main goals or end result. Just like a building can only be constructed with a team of expertise, without any of these expertise, we will not be able to have a complete standing building to work or live in.

Therefore, we will need to ensure that we have already learned to blend into any teams to work together to achieve the common goals. This skill is not like any other soft skills, it can be taught and mentored through a series of guidance. It all depends on individual’s acceptance level in terms of their achievements through mentorship. Working in teams will also provide a full advantage of the right assignments carried out by the right expertise at the highest level of confidence and end results.

So, please bear in mind that all humans need team to survive or achieve certain goals or objectives. During this team building you will also learn to exercise the “Share” instead of the “Take” mentality. In my context of “Sharing” means voluntarily provide your expertise and teach or guide others who wish to learn and excel towards their goals! This kind of act will be regarded as “Contributor” attitude towards any individual and will achieve greater heights. But not all individuals have the ability to share their knowledge or anything as it all depends on individual capacity or experiences or exposure towards the achievements. Some individuals will only be “taking” most of the inputs which will make them as “Doers” rather than “Achievers” or “Leaders”.

In summary, “Share” is always good for building a strong team who will in turn assist you in any manner to achieve anything that you have set forth. By “Sharing” you are also mentoring or guiding younger achievers towards greater heights in their endeavours.

7. “Share” Vs “Take” Skills

In the earlier section, I have mentioned about the differences between the “Share” Vs “Take” skills. Let’s now look at it in more detail.

There are people who may think that “why should I share so much?” and “What if I am overtaken by sharing too much?” and “What if I lose my job or become outdated after sharing my knowledge?” If you have any of this mentality or queries, then you may not even know the nature of “Sharing” and how it attracts similar forces or category of personality.

When you start your undivided sharing, you are already elevated to the next level which is the mentor. At this level, you have already achieved certain level of accomplishment in your skill sets! It is at this level, when you share, you will also build on new knowledge from other people. My principle and experiences already told me that with more sharing, you gain more in terms of your expertise knowledge. This is the law of energy and synergy where each parties in the group will be of the same qualities and mentality.

In fact, I will not forgo the fact that there are a lot of people who are what I termed as “Taker” who only takes in what other people’s sharing. They may or may not be in the upper hand as they will ultimately obsolete from the sharing group after realizing the zero contributing factor by this group. So, if we wish to excel in the world in any form, let’s not be too controlled over your sharing what you know and what you have learnt. If you are able to open your height and mind on this, positive results will also waiting for the right success.

In summary, “Sharing” is an act of virtue and mentorship without any intentions of any expectations of returns from anyone! It will be the most generous part of your heart and it will build a stronger and better relationships from anyone who comes into your path either Social, Volunteer or Career world.

All the above are based on my past experiences and also lesson learnt through the Social, Volunteering, Career and also Business world environment! I am sharing this is to provide some insight to all of you on how you can unleash your inner Soft Skills to achieve greater heights in life. I did not cover all the skill sets as I feel that the above are the possible core ingredients that we should be working on before moving on to other skill sets. If you feel that, there are missing elements in the article, please do let me know and I am more than willing to discuss or explore further with you. I do wish that you have enjoyed the article and feel free to provide your feedback or comments (if any) so that I can improve myself further. My principle is to share as much as I can and learn as much as I can from anyone with the same level of interest.

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