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Soft Skills are Social; Hard Skills are Technical

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Everyone has an innate set of soft skills. They are the personality traits and behaviors you acquire just by living in a society. They are interpersonal and behavioral attributes that are essential to effective collaboration. Short form: how well you play with others. Initially, they are determined by your environment and temperament.

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Soft Skills (aka Social or People Skills)

Changing a behavioral trait requires a desire and commitment to change, constant vigilance, and the willingness to adapt your natural personality traits and behaviors to improve your ability to deal with other people. People skills are also notoriously difficult to measure objectively.

Common examples of soft skills are:

  • Communication and collaboration skills
  • People focus
  • Curiosity (being genuinely interested in the other person’s perspective)
  • Empathy
  • Non-verbal communication (body language)
  • Connects with a group
  • Etc.

In the context of leading or taking part in collaborative conversations, communication is far and away the most critical social skill. As a result, we dedicate an entire section to tips, tricks, and techniques for improving your communication skills.

Hard Skills

Techniques or hard skills, on the other hand, you learn by taking a course, reading a book, watching a video, trial-and-error, or simply following someone else’s instructions. Repetition of the technique builds proficiency which can be measured by taking a test that scores your level of expertise. Many professional organizations or government agencies certify your achievements in your respective field.

Examples of techniques that contribute to collaborative conversations include:

  • Agenda planning and invitations
  • Organizing information
  • Process design
  • Meeting rules of engagement
  • Time management skills
  • Etc.

We introduced you to specific techniques for many of these topics in earlier sections and lectures. The level of expertise you need in each technique depends on your unique situation. The only general rule is the larger the group size, the more variety and depth of expertise and experience you will need of each technique to succeed.

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Written for the aspiring Business Analyst and anyone tasked with defining the business needs, requirements, or user stories for a future IT solution.

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