What are the Most Important Soft Skills?

“If I went back to college again, I’d concentrate on two areas: learning to write and to speak before an audience. Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively.” – Gerald Ford, 38th president of the United States

“The number one criteria for advancement and promotion for professionals is an ability to communicate effectively.” – Harvard Business Review

“Those who build great companies understand that the ultimate throttle on growth for any great company is not markets, or technology, or competition, or products. It is the one thing above all others – the ability to get and keep enough of the right people.” – Jim Collins, author, Good to Great

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With so many soft skills, it’s hard to determine which one is the most important. But I think that communication skills is a good place to start. To employers, good communication is essential. When the lines are clear, it builds trust and can even increase productivity. We all know communication is a multi-way process taking place between two or more people and we communicate all the time. But how do we really know that communication has taken place? One of my biggest pet peeves is when people ask how are you but then don’t wait for an answer. I know we spend a lot of time rushing around, but by definition, that is non-communication. There is no real exchange of information.

A challenge of communication is how and when to share thoughts and concerns. I think it depends on the context of the situation. There are times when you should give your opinion and times when you should hold your peace. How do you determine when the time is right and how should you communicate? As the saying goes, “know your audience”. Good communication is never about us—it is always about those we are communicating with. So we should ask ourselves, “what will it take for me to clearly deliver my message?” Once we have the answer, communication becomes easier. Understand what you want to achieve through the communication. By making the right judgment we will know what to say and what not to say. Though it may not be an easy way for us to communicate, it will be easier for others to understand us.

.a drawing of signs that say"Why?"; "When?"; "What?"; "How?"; "Who?"; "Where?"

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Finding a way to develop our communication skills is essential and the best way is to practice it daily. Whether it is oral or written, communication is about connecting and applying communication strategies will help us to overcome the barriers.


Ask your friends, colleagues, professors, parents etc. for their honest feedback about your communication skills. Make a note of the positive and negative feedback to see what you need work on.

Introduction: The Softer Side

In my next blog, I will continue the discussion on communication with the five key principles of connection.