Invest in your future this summer
Apply for our tech scholarships and be
job-ready by autumn
Apply now
Let your career blossom this spring with Beetroot Academy
-25%  discount on all courses

How to develop soft skills and find motivation?

Soft skills are universal social and psychological skills that do not depend on the profession but directly affect a person's professional success. They are opposed to hard skills, which are skills for each profession. Soft skills are difficult to assess personal qualities. For them, there is no quick and understandable way of formation. They are closely related to the level of development of emotional intelligence, unique qualities, and moral values of a person.

In 2020, the World Economic Forum identified ten skills needed in 2025:

  1. Analytical thinking and innovation.
  2. Active learning and learning strategies.
  3. Comprehensive problem-solving.
  4. Critical thinking and analysis.
  5. Creativity, originality, and initiative.
  6. Leadership and social influence.
  7. Technology use, monitoring, and control.
  8. Technology design and programming.
  9. Resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility.
  10. Reasoning, problem-solving, and ideation.

Soft skills and emotional intelligence

Emotional or social intelligence is a person's ability to understand one's own and other people's emotions and to recognize intentions, motivations, and desires.

Soft skills can be considered a synonym of emotional intelligence, but this concept is narrower because it mainly applies to professional activities.

Soft skills are closely related to a person's personal qualities and are based on specific moral values.

Soft skills most often include the following ones:

  • Communication: a leadership position, the ability to build relationships with those around you, the ability to negotiate and defend your views, to convince and control your emotions, and to actively listen and hear the interlocutor.
  • Self-organization: ability to plan, time management, and personal effectiveness.
  • Creativity: the ability to think outside the box, find non-standard approaches to solving problems, lack stereotypes, and critical thinking.
  • Information management skills: quickly processing, assimilating information, and teaching others.
  • Stress resistance: the ability to respond adequately to stressful situations and quickly make balanced decisions.

Model of emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence can be thought of as two scales: “Understanding yourself and others” and “Managing yourself and others.” And this resonates with soft skills. That is, if you do not understand yourself, likely, you won't be able to understand someone. If you cannot manage yourself, it will be difficult for you to control others. But there are some exceptions; for example, some people do not understand their emotions very well, but they know other people's emotions.

Recently, companies in the field of human resources, which are active in social networks, blogs, and others, have published selections of soft skills, which are the most popular in their opinion. Therefore, they set specific trends that other recruiters and HR managers pick up. Some “fashionable trends” are created for specific software skills. And then the questions arise: What do you mean you can't communicate? How can you not want to be a leader? There must be something wrong with you.

Each person is unique, and it happens that your personal qualities do not allow you to follow these “fashionable trends” among soft skills. For example, when you see someone in a lovely outfit, buy the same one for yourself, but it doesn't suit you or “fit” your figure as it should. It is the same with soft skills.

Types of the nervous system: how it affects the development of your soft skills and why you should listen to yourself

Features of the nervous system are closely related to the development of specific soft skills. For example, such qualities as stress resistance or multitasking directly depend on the type of nervous system. And the type of nervous system is what a person is born with; You cannot change it. It is like fingerprints.

We cannot change the type of nervous system, but we can compensate for something and adapt to something. For example, if you have no sense of time, you immerse yourself in a task and forget about other things, then you can set reminders on your gadget or ask those around you to remind you that you need to finish. This is the case when the nervous system is relatively inert: it is difficult to "bestir yourself" and then "slow down".

If the nervous system is robust, then a person is resistant to long-term exposure to a stimulus, and we say that he is stress-resistant. And if you have a weak nervous system, and you get a job in a company where you have to endure a heavy load every day (for example, work related to communication with many people), then of course, soon you will want to leave this job.

Yes, it is possible to increase the strength of the nervous system to a certain extent, for example, by regularly arranging small stressful situations for yourself. But when something serious happens, the nervous system's power will "roll back to factory settings" again. That is, you need to understand whether it is worth developing stress resistance or finding a job with a suitable rhythm for you.

The nervous system can be balanced or unbalanced. We are talking about the ratio of excitation and inhibition of nervous processes. For example, a person instantly "catches fire"; that is, he does something quickly, and it is pretty tricky to slow him down. 

Such people are considered impulsive and easy-going. And for them, monotonous, routine work will seem tedious and tiring. For example, this is work with documentation, with large arrays of information. And if a person with such an unbalanced nervous system takes a job in the field of sales, where he needs to communicate a lot and react quickly, then this will be the best option for him.

The mobility and inertia of the nervous system are about the speed of occurrence or cessation of excitation and inhibition of nervous processes. Here we are talking about workability - how quickly a person adapts and gets into his work or project. Think about yourself: how much time do you need to tackle a particular task? If you "bestir yourself" for a long time, then the mobility of your nervous system is low.

What can be concluded?

Not all soft skills are worth to be developed. For example, you see that it is now "fashionable" to be sociable or strive for leadership or to be stress-resistant and able to make quick decisions. But your type of nervous system is not designed for this.

Or you dream of working in a company whose philosophy and corporate culture are based precisely on the ability to be a leader, defend your opinions, convince others, and quickly respond to changes. Of course, you can try to improve the soft skills you need, but in the end, this violence against yourself can lead to emotional burnout.

It is essential to understand yourself to determine the type of your nervous system. And it would be best if you tried to develop only some possible soft skills.

How to develop your desired soft skills: questions you should ask yourself

You decide to develop some soft skills, for example, public speaking. What's next? From where to start? There is an opinion that the problem should not be solved at its level but at a higher level. Therefore, consider the following model suitable for individuals and companies.

Let's start from the bottom. We have an environment where we do things, and our abilities and skills determine our actions. At the next behavioral level, we talk about skills and habits. Further, abilities are what we have by nature, including the type of nervous system. Here soft skills are located. That is, our abilities influence our behavior, and behavior shapes our environment.

To understand whether we need this skill, it will take root in us and will bring benefits; it is necessary to determine what beliefs and values stand above it.

Our values can be filled with different beliefs. For example, a guy and a girl meet, and they share the belief that family is an essential part of life. But the guy is convinced that in the family, the woman should devote all her time to the family and be the "keeper of the hearth", and the girl is sure that the woman should be educated, earn well, move up the career ladder and, thus, be an excellent example for her children.

By the way, when employers and companies lead pages on social networks, design websites or advertise for personnel, they broadcast their values. And the company's values are determined by the business owner's values. And when you get to work at the company, you intuitively understand the prevailing values: for what you will be praised for and for what colleagues will look at you oddly. Adapting to each company with its values takes much work. 

Therefore, it is worth looking for and choosing a company whose values are close to yours.

Let's return to the desire to develop public speaking. It is necessary to answer the question: why, in fact, do I need this soft skill? Why is this important to me? Next, supporting beliefs can come into play (for example, such thoughts that the ability to speak well will help me give lectures or make reports better) or those beliefs that limit you (for example, there is only chatter around, there is little benefit from them).

Our values and beliefs guide our skills and abilities. As we develop our skills and abilities, they influence our behavior, and behavior determines our environment.

People mostly understand what they like or dislike at the level of their environment, for example, where they live and work. They know what they need to do to change it (behavior) and what abilities they need to develop (soft skills).

Next, you must compare the soft skills you want to develop with your values. Imagine you already have this skill: how do you feel about that? Are you comfortable or not?

Lack of motivation, procrastination, laziness: what to do about it?

Laziness or procrastination is a normal protective reaction of our body, especially now, during a war. Its reasons can be:

  • We are over-fatigued and have exhausted the body, exhausting of physical, energy, and emotional resources.
  • The inconsistency of our needs with our wants is when we spend time on things that are not desirable to us.
  • We have an intuitive sense of the futility of the task at hand.
  • We need self-reflection and renewal.

What to do with it?

You can use self-organization and self-motivation techniques:

  1. Find time sinks (for example, scrolling through the news feed or social networks).
  2. Use "anchors" to tune in to different tasks and rest (music, a particular environment at the workplace).
  3. Don't wait for deadlines; set them by yourself.
  4. Use the "Swiss Cheese" method to bestir yourself (do a big task like biting it piece by piece – one small case after another). 
  5. "Eat" at least one "frog" every day (a frog is not a very pleasant task that should not be put off for later, no matter how much you want to).
  6. Master the so-called art of small steps - divide a big task into smaller ones and do them gradually).
  7. Encourage yourself with "intermediate joys" (after completing work or a project, please yourself with a delicious coffee or buy a nice trinket).
  8. Firstly, plan your recreation, and take responsibility for its organization (this is not about buying tickets in advance, but about the fact that you need to sleep enough, adhere to a healthy diet, do not neglect your sabbatical from work, and do not forget about your hobbies).

Organization of recreation and why it is important for productivity

How to organize resting:

  • In the first place, plan things that give you energy (at the beginning, we recharge, then spend energy on work).
  • Track what energy is lacking - physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual - and allow yourself to restore it.
  • Ensure maximum switching from work to rest.
  • Ensure quality sleep (if you take a long time to fall asleep, often wake up at night, and already feel tired in the morning - you should solve this problem with a specialist).
  • Experience the moment (stop, look around, and allow yourself to break away from work for a while).
  • Arrange regular unloading days (days when you don't plan anything, don't do work or household chores, but relax as you want).

And the most crucial thing regarding soft skills and motivation: you should never fight with yourself; you should study yourself, understand and be able to negotiate with yourself.

See more in the video.

Yevheniia Stentsel
Beetroot Academy blog author