Fortune 500 coach and author Peggy Klaus is a world-class trainer and has just had her second book released. Like her first title (BRAG! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It), this new one, The Hard Truth About Soft Skills: Workplace Lessons Smart People Wish They’d Learned Sooner, offers succinct, real life advice about how people can enhance their social, communication, and self-management behaviors so that they can move up in their careers. Here’s the third and final part of my interview with Peggy:
LGL: What are the biggest soft skills differences between men and women?
PK: Men don’t seem to suffer from the “imposter syndrome”—or at least they are less likely to admit it when they do—even if they lack the experience or expertise that’s required for the job. In general, men are also more comfortable with self promotion and with certain aspects of office politics, especially competition. Women, on the other hand, are usually better at communication and at building and nurturing relationships. They tend to be more aware of their environment and to pick up on cues that men miss. In addition, women are generally more open to change and self-improvement. Unfortunately though, women are also prone to taking things that happen at work too personally, something that men are unlikely to do.
LGL: In your book, you highlight 54 lessons that smart people wished they had learned sooner when it comes to using their soft skills. What are some of your favorites, especially if you really want to impress your boss?
PK: Here are some of my favorites:
- Books are judged by their covers and the same is true for you.
- Find out how they want to hear it and adjust your communication accordingly.
- Learn the unspoken rules of your workplace.
- Your boss wants you to figure it out.
- When you can’t deliver, don’t say yes but be careful how you say no.
- Don’t be the last one to find out how you are doing.
- Tooting your horn isn’t just for performance reviews.
- Think long and hard before going over your boss’s head.
- Don’t let the fear of sucking up hold you back.
- Get smart about asking dumb questions.
LGL: How can people test and improve their soft skills savvy?
PK: The online Take 24 Soft Skills Quiz is for anyone who wants to take their career to the next level. This automated self-assessment quiz tests and tallies personal soft skills savvy in a number of key areas. It quickly identifies strengths and aspects needing improvement with just 24 questions, then provides customized advice. It’s available at www.peggyklaus.com or www.bettersoftskills.com.
LGL: What are soft serve parties?
PK: Soft Serve Parties are an easy and fun way of serving up the soft skills in an informal environment. I lead the events and focus on essential but often-ignored soft skills lessons for the workplace. Interspersed with lively and experiential exercises, the programs lasts about two hours—and, yes, soft serve ice cream tops off each event!