Why are soft skills the key to success in a multilingual work environment?

Did you know that within the next 10 years, as many as 65% of professions will require highly developed soft skills? This is due to the dynamic market development, the different nature of work, and… the increasing popularity of multilingual work. Today, we discuss why soft skills are the key to success in multilingual work.

Working in a multilingual environment is a challenge

More international companies are entering Poland, and domestic enterprises are eager to cooperate with foreign contractors or employ specialists from abroad. This makes multilingualism a standard in the modern job market. Proficiency in at least one foreign language is slowly becoming a requirement in many industries.

However, working in a multilingual environment can be quite a challenge. Cultural differences within a team or between employees and contractors, partners, or customers can be a source of misunderstandings, understatements, and conflicts. Multilingualism can complicate effective team management, efficient and smooth group work, as well as good and proficient customer service, causing frustration and dissatisfaction among employees. It can also worsen relations with business partners and, in the worst case, lead to the termination of cooperation. Language barriers can slow down company growth, make it harder to achieve goals, and reduce profits in the long run.

In multilingual work, alongside excellent qualifications, outstanding experience, prestigious education, and motivation, soft skills matter. Why? What exactly are soft skills, and how can they be developed?

Soft skills – definition

The concept of “competence” appeared in psychology in 1959 thanks to R. White, who dealt with the issue of influencing the environment. White defined “competencies” as skills that contribute to interaction with the environment.

Soft skills, also known as interpersonal or people skills, are a set of social, organizational, emotional, cognitive, and personal traits that define specific behaviors in certain situations in a given environment. In the professional realm, these include ways of performing duties, predispositions for teamwork, ways of integrating with coworkers, contractors, and other stakeholders.

Soft skills can be innate or acquired through learning or social training. They are not subject to certification, cannot be measured unequivocally – we infer them based on a person’s behavior, manifesting unconsciously, automatically.

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Desirable soft skills in a multilingual workplace

What soft skills are most valuable in a multilingual work environment? Undoubtedly, the first to mention is communicativeness, the ability to effectively convey information. Flexibility is equally important, defined as the ability to easily adapt to different conditions or situations. Assertiveness, emotional intelligence, and creativity are also highly valued in a multilingual setting.

Well-developed soft skills are key to success in multilingual work. They primarily allow for effective information exchange with interlocutors from different cultures. They enable employees to work efficiently in a multilingual team, facilitating the achievement of business goals, and help leaders to manage a group effectively. Moreover, they improve communication with foreign contractors and clients, enabling growth in the international market.

Are soft skills more valuable than hard skills?

Soft skills are valuable and desired in the job market, as confirmed by numerous studies. The American IT company iCIMS has shown that recruiters value candidates’ ability to solve problems, adapt, and manage time rationally the most. Meanwhile, a ManpowerGroup analysis indicates that 1/3 of companies struggle to find employees who demonstrate reliability, exceptional responsibility for assigned tasks, and high discipline. The conclusion is clear: it’s worth developing soft skills because they can guarantee success in business.

hard skills vs soft skills

Developing soft skills is key to success in multilingual work

Developing soft skills is a long and demanding process. The foundation is striving for greater self-awareness, understanding one’s strengths, and areas for improvement. Participating in dedicated training and workshops, which provide numerous tips on developing soft skills, engaging in projects requiring teamwork and initiative, as well as reading books, articles, and other materials on soft skills, interpersonal psychology, and personal development is beneficial. A valuable tool that can support the development of soft skills is feedback from others, which encourages reflection on one’s behavior and helps draw conclusions. Investing in the development of soft skills is investing in one’s self-esteem, which aids in achieving business peaks!

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