Recently, a retail banker friend narrated an eye-opening experience she had with a new intern. The intern, a post graduate from a premium B-school had been employed with a reputed financial BPO. My friend was looking forward to working with her. However, she was sorely disappointed.
The intern habitually walked in half an hour late for work and took long lunch breaks. She rarely mixed with the other interns, preferring to chat on her cell phone. The one time she stayed beyond her scheduled time, she was found messaging her Facebook friends. To make matters worse, she was curt with customers. Needless to say, my friend did not go on to recruit her.
What went wrong? The intern had excellent academic and professional credentials. She should have been ‘perfect’ for the job. Evidently, it is not enough to possess ‘hard skills’. Employers value professionalism, a positive attitude, strong work ethics, affability, and collaboration skills. The importance of ‘soft skills’ cannot be underestimated.
Soft skills are valuable professional assets that enhance your personality. While schools are busy preparing students for impressive degrees, they miss the bus on personality development. This is of critical importance, especially in today’s service-driven industries. Recruiters have realized the importance of a warm smile and an amiable nature. After all, it doesn’t hurt to like the person you work with!
Let’s look at how to improve soft skills that will help you stay on top in the tough job market.
It is pointless having great ideas, unless you can articulate them. Communication is a function of your thought processes. Thoughts, in turn, reflect your inner state of being. If you are calm on the inside, you will be able to communicate effectively with presence of mind. Meditation helps keep you serene and centered. So you can build your way up the corporate ladder with good communication skills.
Communication also includes listening. Do you listen to understand the other person’s ideas? Or, are you simultaneously thinking of your own rebuttal? Many of us do the latter. It is simply a function of not living in the present moment. Perhaps you also find it difficult to hear different views. Try meditation at work. It helps you accept different opinions while retaining sound judgement. You can then focus on the issue at hand, without unnecessary thoughts cluttering your mind.
Teamwork brings success
Generally, when there is an emergency at work, you actively participate in the fire fighting. The credit may not always go to you, but your thoughts are directed towards the team’s best interests. At these moments, you forget the difference between ‘I’ and ‘We’. It is a moment of union between the two. The sense of teamwork that you display at such times will certainly be acknowledged.
“No organization can rise without devotion.” Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Meditation encourages this devotion. You become a true team player and think consistently in terms of the larger interests of the organization. This is what defines success for the organization and for you.
Be intuitive and open minded
The workplace can be a battle zone at times. You are bound to hear criticism at several junctures. It is important that you filter constructive criticism from the destructive ones. The former will help you improve. The latter should be shown the door. One of the perks of being a meditator is that you can discern one from the other.
You operate from a zone of heightened awareness, intuition and understanding. Watch as you leave your ego, embarrassment and discomfort behind and focus on self-development. Your employers will definitely sit up and take notice!
Inspire your team
“When we have to work on a project, everything is not going to be smooth. There is going to be a lot of chaos. Challenges you face, test you, and give immense scope to utilize your skills and get closer to perfection.” Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Effective conflict resolution is possible when you stay calm around explosive tempers and negative attitudes. How can you do this? Meditation helps you gain clarity and peace of mind. This will come in handy when the office atmosphere is volatile. You will be able to display grace under pressure. And be a source of inspiration to your colleagues.
Have a can-do attitude
The workplace is bound to throw some curveballs at you. You could be stumped despite your best plans. How you deal with such exigencies will decide your fate at the office. Do you get angry or dejected? Or do you look for a way out of the situation? Can you envision the light at the end of the tunnel? If you are hopeful despite the gloomy scenario, your optimism will energize your team.
Life has given me lemons, I will make lemonade!
Where can you get such positive physical and mental energy?
Yes! Both are gifts of meditation! It acts as your anchor, helping you see the impermanence of feelings and situations. Moreover, meditation enhances your multi-tasking ability and creativity.
Focus on soft skills development and allow your equity in the company to shoot up!
"Meditation brings out the 4 I’s in us – Innovation, Intuition, Inspiration and Intelligence." Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
If you are part of the corporate world, you can enroll in one of the institutional programs at The Art of Living. Depending on your area of work, you may choose between Achieving Personal Excellence (APEX), I excel I lead, or Government Executive Programme (GEP). Each of these programs will help you develop soft skills and be a role model in the professional arena.
When it comes to soft skills; show, don’t tell!