What Are Soft Skills? 12 Examples to Benefit You Personally & Professionally

UPDATED: October 27, 2023
PUBLISHED: October 24, 2023
Business woman standing in front of her store, arms crossed, ready to learn about soft skills examples

Soft skills, often referred to as “interpersonal skills” or “people skills,” are the attributes, behaviors and qualities that help you interact with others more effectively in the workplace. These skills assist you in becoming more confident, competent, better acknowledged and even more liked within your professional environment. Developing these soft skills examples as a growth challenge will do more than accelerate your career. It will pave the way to lasting professional success and personal empowerment.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are distinct from technical or hard skills. Hard skills include core competencies in your field such as programming, graphic design or accounting. These skills are often learned in college, trade schools or job training. Soft skills, on the other hand, provide distinct personal value through your ability to communicate effectively and contribute as a team player. Collectively, these skills play a pivotal role in professional development and your future success.

Examples of soft skills encompass a wide range of abilities, including communication, empathy, adaptability, problem-solving, leadership and teamwork. Traits such as punctuality and emotional resilience also play a role in soft skills. Combined, they shape how you navigate professional environments and interact with colleagues, employers, clients and stakeholders. By developing these skills, others will find you more dependable and valuable for your work ethic.

The benefits of developing soft skills

As an aspect of personal development, soft skills become increasingly important throughout your career. For example, as an entry-level IT professional, you will need to possess the hard skills required for application maintenance, data storage and digital infrastructure. But to advance within the IT department, you must possess the interpersonal skills required to build co-worker confidence and lead a diverse team.

Likewise, soft skills contribute significantly to a positive work culture by fostering an inclusive environment where employees collaborate harmoniously, resolve conflicts efficiently and adapt with resilience amid dynamic circumstances. Ultimately, soft skills lay the foundation for productive teamwork, exemplary leadership and career advancement. As such, they play a critical role in any professional growth strategy.

What are some examples of soft skills?

To better understand the wide range of professional development opportunities, consider these 12 soft skill examples.

1. Emotional intelligence

Growth in emotional intelligence or EQ enables individuals to recognize, understand and manage their own emotions effectively, which leads to better self-regulation and reduced stress. The broadest and most complex among our soft skills examples, emotional intelligence includes personal attributes such as self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills and personal motivation. To better understand your own emotional intelligence, consider taking an online EQ test.

2. Empathy

Empathy allows you to better understand and connect with others at a more personal level. It involves recognizing the feelings of employers, subordinates and colleagues, which can improve teamwork and streamline conflict resolution. For example, a manager who listens attentively to a subordinate’s personal challenges while imagining themselves in a similar situation shows empathy.

3. Communication

Effective communication is crucial for conveying ideas, resolving issues and building relationships within a department, across teams and with clients. Clear and active listening as well as careful and measured expression are key components of communication. For instance, a salesperson’s ability to communicate persuasively can lead to more successful client negotiations.

4. Adaptability

In a rapidly changing world, adaptability allows you to embrace emerging challenges as fresh opportunities for growth. A crucial component in developing a growth mindset, adaptability allows you to transition more effectively amid change. For instance, an adaptable employee will embrace the benefits of a new software system rather than focusing exclusively on faults.

5. Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills enable individuals to analyze complex issues, identify solutions, and make informed decisions for resolution. These skills are equally valuable to adaptability but include the added benefit of figuring out a way to overcome a challenge. For example, a project manager might use the soft skill of problem-solving to resolve unexpected issues during a project’s execution.

6. Creativity

Creativity fosters innovation and novel ideas, essential to staying ahead as new technologies and markets emerge. As a creative thinker, you can resolve an issue through problem-solving, but you can also find more efficient means to that end. Unlocking your creativity requires a careful balance of skills that include critical thinking, open-mindedness and a willingness to take risks. 

7. Stress management

Managing stress is crucial for maintaining mental and physical well-being. It includes tactics that help you remain focused and motivated during critical times while preventing burnout. Examples of this soft skill may include building morning routines, evening routines or daily meditation.

8. Resilience

Resilience helps individuals bounce back from setbacks and maintain a positive attitude despite challenges. This skill is crucial for maintaining mental health well-being. An entrepreneur facing business setbacks may rely on resilience to persevere and eventually succeed.

9. Conflict resolution

Conflict resolution skills allow you to manage disagreements and assist in reaching mutually beneficial solutions. They enhance team cohesion and reduce workplace drama. This skill can also assist with client disputes. For example, a customer service associate can use the soft skills of communication, empathy and creative problem-solving skills to resolve a client complaint while increasing customer loyalty.

10. Cultural sensitivity

In a globalized world, cultural sensitivity is critical for respecting diverse perspectives and fostering inclusivity. Once the domain of international sales and trade, this skill is now essential within any team or organization. For instance, an HR manager needs to remain vigilant of internal or unconscious biases to promote a diverse workplace.

11. Time management

Efficiently managing time helps individuals prioritize tasks, meet deadlines and reduce stress. Proven time management strategies not only help you get your work done on time without stressing the rest of your team, but they also free more personal time for you to enjoy better work-life balance. For instance, advanced organization, prioritization and personal discipline skills can assist you in obtaining your degree while holding a full-time job.

12. Leadership

Skills in effective communication, adaptability, problem-solving, cultural sensitivity and other soft skills do not exist in isolation. They merge within you, making you a stronger, more versatile and more influential leader. By growing and developing each of these traits, you will not only get on the radar for company advancement. You will be better prepared to embrace a leadership role with the full support of your team.

Photo by Rido/Shutterstock.com

Bryan enjoys the digital space where arts and technology meet. As a writer, he has worked in education, health and wellbeing, and manufacturing. He also assists smaller businesses in web development including accessibility and content development. In his free time, he hikes trails in central Florida.