EQ and Soft Skills: Why they are more important than ever

Time to Talk Day: woman talking animatedly about herself, woman with friends in a cafe, soft skills

Article provided by Salman Raza is founder and CEO of training and development consultancy Razalution Bureau

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, people across the world adapted to many changes.

Working remotely was one of them. Gone were the office cooler talks, the camaraderie during lunch breaks, and even in-office politics. These facets were replaced by virtual meetings behind a screen, conference calls, and electronic communications.

Now is the time to recalibrate. As people migrate back to the office and face to face communication is again vital, soft skills and emotional intelligence are more important than ever. Here are a few tips to enhance them:

Remember You Can Be Seen

Different personalities mean different egos. And different egos can be triggered by different things. When you’re working remotely, you have the option for example, to tap your foot under your desk to release anxious energy or fiddle with your phone. This is not to say these behaviours are acceptable, but there are more behaviours you can get away with in a virtual workspace than in person.

A key tip is to remember you can be seen. When your boss is giving a presentation, he or she can read your body language. Do you appear alert and engaged? Or are you slouched and daydreaming. Facial expressions need to align with expectations because this observation can trigger your boss’s ego and cause an uncomfortable conversation to take place after the meeting.

What about that coworker who is not your favourite? When he or she sends you emails or calls you, your body may react with an eye roll or deep sigh. You cannot exhibit these behaviours in person at the office. Be mindful of your tone of voice, posture, eye contact, and behaviours when interacting with your colleagues and superiors in-person. This awareness will strengthen your relationships and pave the way for a harmonious work environment.

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Re-familiarise Yourself with Personality Types

Before returning to the office, you may want to do a quick brush up on personality types. These categories of behaviours and perceptions are extraordinarily helpful when it comes to navigating office politics. When you know that Sarah is an introvert and requires a good 10 seconds of silence before responding to a question and Evelyn is an extrovert who will answer a question immediately, but the crux of the answer may come 30-40 seconds after a stream of consciousness response, you can better prepare yourself for interacting with these individuals.

The same can be said for the personality types who like to meticulously plan every item and those who choose to wing it. You also have personality types who thrived in the remote-only environment and are going to have a tougher time readjusting to the in-person workspace.

Also, identify for yourself what type of personality you have. (The Meyers-Brigg’s Personality Type spectrum is great place to start learning about personality types). When you take steps to acknowledge your own ego and personality traits, you can clearly articulate to others what you need to be happy, productive, and engaged in your work.

Channel Your Empathy

A surefire way to strengthen your in-person office relationships is to support your colleagues emotionally as best as you can. With the awareness of personality types, you can further gauge what you can do to help them along the way. Maybe it is as simple as exchanging “work from home” stories at the water cooler so your colleagues do not feel so alone or offering tips to spruce up the office.

Don’t be afraid to ask for support as well. We’re all human and no one is perfect. We all need support from time to time. Instead of letting your concerns and insecurities fester, only to rear their ugly head in a form of passive aggression, talk to the appropriate parties to find a solution.

Humans are social creatures. We learn by interacting with others. We make lasting friendships and build our support system through one-on-one interactions. Even if you find the transition back to the office to be difficult, try to find some positive aspects. It could be how Connor’s booming laugher always makes you smile or Claire’s “just because” brownies she bakes from the heart. Whatever the reason, write it down. Consider making a gratitude journal and list all the positive elements. That way, when you’re feeling stuck, stunted, or discouraged, you can return to your list and recall a few things you are grateful for.

This is an unprecedented time that millions of people around the world are facing. Remember you are not alone and there are many wonderful things to absorb, learn from and enjoy- All it takes is a little awareness, a little patience, and an open mind.

Salman RazaAbout the author

Salman Raza is a biomedical engineer, has an MBA in innovation management & entrepreneurship and a MS in strategic management. He is also a certified international auditor and consultant.

He has lived on four continents and worked in thirty countries. The diversity and experiences have given him an insight into working with different cultures, values, and personality types. Through his consulting company Razalution Bureau; he leads training and workshops on soft skills, emotional intelligence and leadership development.

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