Your technical or coding skills are not good enough, on their own! There is another set of completely different skills that all developers should aim to master if they want to excel at work and in their personal lives. The skills I speak of are called "Soft Skills"! Your understanding , and development, of these skills will have great impact on how you interact with others, view new challenges and eventually move forward in life.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are the set of personality traits that an individual possesses. Soft skills are more about who you are as a person rather than what you know. Your soft skills range from how you communicate with others to your ability to solve problems. It's important to understand that your soft skills are always on display!
Top 5 Soft Skills
Emotions are a driving force behind our actions. Emotional intelligence is your ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and to understand the emotions of those around you. Emotional intelligence was popularized by American psychologist Daniel Goleman. According to Goleman, there are five elements to emotional intelligence:
- Self-awareness: Your ability to know how you feel and how your emotions and actions affect those around you.
- Self-regulation: This is your ability to manage disruptive emotions and impulses. Managing disruptive emotions and impulses is absolutely crucial because if left unchecked, they may result in you acting in ways that are not beneficial to you.
- Motivation: pushing yourself do what is required of you even when you don't feel like doing it.
- Empathy: understanding the feelings of another person. Discussed later in this article.
- Social Skills: How you interact with others will determine the quality of relationships you develop. For a while in my life, I struggled with my social interactions, however, I've managed to improve this skill over the past six years.
Effective communication is important in our daily lives. One should aim to bring their thoughts across to others in a clear manner. Clear communication makes interacting with others much easier, however, communication is not only about you talking. Being a good communicator means being a good listener. Listening attentively allows you to give the other person(s) valid feedback and allows the conversation to flow naturally. It is important though, to not just listen for the sake of responding, but to listen to truly understand the points being made by others.
Empathy is your ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.
Being empathetic will allow you to better understand the views of team members. Thus, assisting you in knowing why that team member may want a particular thing to be done in a specific way.
Empathy can also help you to understand the needs of the end-users of the product(s) you are developing. You can then develop/design features based on what the customer would want. You can do this simply by "putting yourself in the customer's shoe", picturing how they'd feel or react to something done in a particular way. The ability to do this can potentially lead to increased customer satisfaction.
Problem - solving
An endless flow of problems will present themselves when you are developing software. You can always get help from a team member to solve these problems, but it is important to develop the ability to find solutions on your own.
Problem-solving is one of the skills that separates the best developers from others. Try to find solutions to a problem before asking for help. If after researching you still can't find a solution then you ask someone for help.
Each problem you solve will build your confidence which in turn increases the likelihood that you will solve the next challenge faced, which in turn builds your confidence. It's a cycle!
The software industry is ever changing and you have to be able to adapt to these changes.
A change, however, don't have to be one that affects the whole industry. A change can simply mean a change in the requirements of a project you are working on, the tools you have access to or even that you have been placed on a completely new team in a completely new environment. Whatever the situation you must be able to adapt to the new demands and still maintain a high level of productivity.
Always remember that the ability to adjust to new demands or environments will increase you value.
Soft skills are important to develop and will play a crucial role in the quality of your personal and professional life. Improving your emotional intelligence, communication skills, empathy, problem-solving skills, and your ability to adjust to changes will make you a more valuable and productive person.
These are the top five soft skills I believe all developers should develop. Thank you for reading! Until next time, Think, Learn, Create, Repeat!