Wood Words

How to Develop Soft Skills on the Job

They may be called “soft,” but make no mistake:

Regardless of your industry or job function, soft skills are critical to getting hired – and succeeding once you’re on the job.

Which soft skills do you need for your career?

In this earlier post, we reviewed the soft skills commonly required for job success:

  • Communication
  • Listening
  • Problem-solving
  • Accountability
  • Empathy
  • Emotional intelligence

How can you develop soft skills at work?

Skills like the ones listed above make it easier for you to interact well with others: forming productive work relationships; effectively managing conflict; making positive contributions to your work team; and more. No matter what type of work you perform, here are a few ways to practice and enhance your soft skills on the job:


  • Be mindful of your body language, and make sure you maintain appropriate eye contact when speaking to other people.
  • Anytime you’re addressing a group, practice speaking clearly and making your point concisely.
  • Pay attention to details in written communications. Always proofread anything you write before turning it in or clicking “send.”


  • Wait your turn in conversations, allowing other people to finish their statements before speaking.
  • Listen with your whole body. Maintain eye contact and keep your body oriented toward the speaker.
  • Ask clarifying questions to ensure you fully understand what’s being communicated.
  • Repeat back what you think you heard the other person say, to verify your understanding.


  • Pull your own weight and divide work evenly.
  • Eliminate “that’s not my job” from your vocabulary.
  • When others help you, thank them (even if it’s a part of their regular job duties).
  • Find ways to be genuinely helpful. Volunteer to help someone who is struggling.


  • Maintain a positive attitude when something goes wrong at work. Focus on finding a solution – not just the problem itself.
  • Keep an open mind when you’re faced with a challenge. Be willing to brainstorm new approaches, even when faced with the same old problems.
  • Seek out the advice of creative thinkers and for their input when solving problems. Consider how they approach problem-solving and adopt their best habits.
  • Try to identify the root cause of problems and address those (not just symptoms). This will help you prevent the same problems from recurring.


  • Before you commit to something, be sure you have the training and resources to do it.
  • Practice under-promising and over-delivering.
  • Address small issues before they become large ones. Speak up if you know a project is off track.
  • Don’t point fingers when problems arise. Focus on developing a solution, not blaming others.
  • If you make a mistake, own up to it and treat it as a learning experience.

Emotional Intelligence

  • Practice assessing situations and measuring your response before reacting. Think before you speak or act.
  • Demonstrate empathy when someone is emotional, but try to insulate yourself from getting “sucked into others’ drama.”
  • Consider an individual’s personality type when determining the best way to interact with them.
  • Focus on the task, rather than the feelings of the people involved.

Temporary jobs are ideal for quickly building your soft skills.

With each new assignment, you have new opportunities to build relationships, gel with new work teams, solve new problems and more. For access to the best temp jobs in Middle Tennessee, contact our Nashville staffing agency – or your local Wood Personnel office.