The contrast with hard skills may make you think they’re weaker, but soft skills are gaining more and more attention for their importance in the workplace. In many cases, they’re just as important as the hard skills required to do your job. While hard skills encompass those abilities you learned and strengthened through school, training, and experience, soft skills tend to be more subtle or innate. Many soft skills refer to interpersonal skills. They’re not as straightforward as hard skills, but these less tangible attributes can help you grow a thriving business.
Soft skills are important.
You may be the best LO at finding clients a great mortgage in record time, but if you can’t empathize with their needs, creatively problem solve, or communicate clearly, those hard skills will often go to waste. It’s not that one set of skills is more important than the other. It’s that together, they help you deliver well-rounded, high-quality service. Though some soft skills like empathy and active listening are getting more attention, here are a few less-common ones that I think are highly valuable:
This skill is often easier to find in children than it is in adult professionals. I think many professionals feel a need to know everything. They don’t want to tell a manager that they don’t know how to do something, and they don’t want to admit in a job interview that they’re in the process of building a skill set instead of having mastered it. When a lack of knowledge is turned into a desire to learn though, you get a hard-working professional who will continue to grow throughout their career.
Especially in a social profession, flexibility is extremely important. A loan officer is expected to engage and connect with prospects and clients from varying backgrounds and demographics. If they’re not able to adopt new ideas and ways of doing things, they’ll be hard pressed to please every client. Adaptability also means being open to unexpected changes, an inevitable occurrence when working in the mortgage industry. Finally, it means staying up to date with new technology, marketing trends, and modes of communication.
Communication skills certainly fall under soft skills, and they’re some of the most important for loan officers. More than just the ability to speak and write clearly and listen attentively, consistency in your communication is key. Especially in the digital world we live in, a consistent tone and style in both verbal and written communication is important. If you’re charismatic in person, people will look for that same friendly tone in your online posts and emails. Your brand extends far beyond your actual person, so you need to ensure that any digital presence is an accurate representation of who you are as a professional.
Emotional intelligence, or EI, is quickly becoming one of the top skills hiring managers look for today. It refers to the ability to manage your emotions and understand those of the people around you. Empathy is a foundational quality of EI. When you communicate in a way that shows the other person you’re paying attention and can understand their perspective, you’re much more likely to have a positive exchange. It’s also about keeping your own emotions in check, even in difficult conversations.
It’s essential that managers emphasize the importance of soft skills in their employees if they want to build a thriving team. The good news is that, although many soft skills seem innate, they can be learned and strengthened just like any other skill. Though that learning may look different than a two-week course, with some focus and dedication, you can build a strong set of soft skills that will fuel your success.