Soft skills are as critical as technical skills for a software engineer.
No one works in isolation. Each person has to deal with teammates, colleagues, managers, etc. Therefore team interpersonal skills are essential too. Soft skills include things like good communication, honesty, teamwork, integrity, organization, empathy, etc.
Here are my top 5 soft skills for software engineers
1. Sharp Analytical Ability
From day one on your job, we will be faced with a lot of problems, coming one after the other, almost in perpetual succession. To handle them, we must be ready to analyze each one of those problems objectively. And our analytical ability will help us understand all the essential elements of the problem, which will point out many solutions, out of which we could select the most suitable one.
Thus, our analytical ability is at the base of all our problem-solving activities.
2. Innovation and Creativity
In our attempt at problem-solving activities, we will find this soft skill as the most valuable asset. For many of the commonly encountered problems faced in the course of your day-to-day activities, straight forward thinking itself will provide us with a suitable solution. However, once in a way, we will come across some strange problems for which the conventional solutions will not get us the results. It is precisely to solve these problems that our creative thinking and innovative approach are called for.
This soft skill is directly concerned with our attitude. Enthusiasm directly helps us to maintain a positive attitude, at all times, which is a great secret of success both in personal life and in the professional career.
Nurture your enthusiasm!
Even though developers spend the most significant part of the day working independently, collaborating with a team is still vital. Moreover, it's often the best way to create a great product while working together.
In this case, developers should keep in mind consciously team goals, and through teamwork reach them. However, such interactions don't necessarily have to be in person. For example, online collaboration with Slack, Hangouts, Zoom, Miro, etc. are fantastic ways to keep in touch and up to date with the team and on the latest projects.
5. Willing to Grow Through Criticism
We don't like to be criticized by someone, but it's an inevitability for all of us because it helps us grow personally and professionally. Indeed, gathering feedback about ourselves encourages openness and honesty in the team, builds trust is these things that will pay off later as a result. Instead of protecting ourselves and our interests, a team can focus on improving team collaboration, solving problems together, productivity, and attaining common goals.
All in all, software developers need soft skills to work effectively in the team and with other people. That's because no meaningful work can be really done on your own. If you would like to learn more about people, and what makes them tick with my Psychology Tricks at Work, get my weekly newsletter (and get bonus professional networking cheat sheet on top of that).
Now it's your turn! What's your top list of soft skills, and how do you practice them? Leave your comment below!
Thank you for reading! 🙏
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Top comments (19)
Some more qualities that are necessary:
1) Saying NO: When a task cannot be done in X time, say no. Committing to unrealistic deadlines is the reason why many projects fail.
2) Asking for help when needed: You know that it cannot be done without that senior developer's help. Go ask for it!
Yes! I totally agree with you 👍
Two things I think about a lot when I think about what makes a good teammate is great listening skills and a sense of empathy.
When I think about the great managers I've worked with, they always took the perspective of "how do I serve my staff so they can do their jobs well," rather than thinking of everyone they manage as serving them. So I guess I'd include "humility," too.
This is so insightful. Thank you.
Unfortunately, sometimes people can choose processes over people.
Learning to write better is one of the main skills we need to learn. Since the bulk of our communication consists of written communication through slack, trello, technical documentation for collaboration.
You are right! The work goes much easier when we can formulate the questions much precisely, and when there is documentation which is in order, maintaining and updating in time, etc.
Diplomacy I find is a necessary skill in working across Teams, or with other departments. Phrasing, asking questions without making people defensive, avoiding blame when working through issues - all useful skills in communication both verbal and written. Something I have found useful in trying to get details of how a Contract works with an API, or find out who runs a specific set of servers that I need access to. Knowing how to get people to work with you, when they have higher priorities than your high priority project, very useful to know.
It's true! Working on the team and with other teams requires a considerable amount of soft skills to perform well.
A good developer gets the "big picture" of a large project and identifies smaller parts, appropriately breaking large tasks into smaller ones, and then focusing on those smaller tasks, one at a time, handling overlapping tasks right away (this involves listening skills as well, so you can know what your coworkers are doing).
Not all developers can see a "big picture" of a large project because of their entire professional competence. That's why it's essential to have a senior developer - mentor beside them.
Great article Iona... Finding your posts so helpful. This skills are crucial for success... I also would agree on Sharp Analysis is #1.. that helps in everything else.. from dealing with computers to humans and organizations...
You are welcome! 🙏
This is skills one develops as time goes by, For starters, they would be fried to say No to an impossible task.
For me , I control my own schedule based on achievable tasks within short term and long term basis. it helps me complete tasks in a timely manner and allow for room to adjust and request for more time from the project owner or project head
Are these that someone in the software industry doesn't know they need? Why is this kind of fluff getting through to my mail?
I agree with this. As we progress throughout our career we realize that soft skills play a critical role.