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When it comes to professional development, most companies opt to talk about hard skills. These skills can be easily monitored, tested, and advanced. For example, most technical skills are considered hard skills.

However, soft skills are just as critical to professional development – if not more so. Soft skills are harder to define, teach, and quantify. Yet they are a vital part of professional life. Some soft skills include empathy, small talk, and teamwork.

Those hoping to increase their worth through professional development should consider these soft skills.


Not everything can go according to plan – that’s life. A professional with an adaptable mindset is more likely to succeed when plans change. In other words, professionals should aspire to embrace a ‘can-do’ attitude. 

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking pulls from experience, data, and resources to create sound judgments. In other words, critical thinking is what occurs when one takes all relevant information into account. This is an essential skill to have, regardless of the industry. It can also help your decision-making process personally, making it all the more important to study and practice.

Time Management

Time management is perhaps one of the most critical professional skills to have. Yet most schools and businesses don’t take the time to teach time management practices. Time management allows people to understand what needs to get done, how much time they need/have, and how to prioritize. Start working on your time management by prioritizing your tasks; this way, the most critical tasks are always completed.


Not every employee will be called upon to lead a team. Yet having leadership skills will make the process easier, should it ever be called for. Many other soft skills go into effective leadership, including emotional intelligence, critical thinking, adaptability, and time management. Don’t be afraid to look up leadership and management tips to help get a leg up in this process.

Work Ethic

A strong work ethic is something that most businesses will expect – but they seldom explicitly state this requirement. Like leadership skills, some elements and abilities go into work ethic, including commitment, discipline, initiative, accountability, and organization.

Conflict Resolution

The average person doesn’t enjoy conflict. This is especially true in a work environment, where disputes can increase the risk of significant threats and loss. Therefore, knowing how to resolve conflicts peacefully is an essential skill to have. The best way to practice conflict resolution is by addressing issues directly (but politely) as they arise.