By Jillian Inks, OSCPA communications Intern
While the pandemic forced rapid change, it also revealed an opportunity for professionals to improve what are commonly referred to as “soft skills.”
“How people act or behave online, show body language and speak can really say a lot about them without saying much at all,” said Bob Pacanovsky, entrepreneur, professional speaker and CEO of The Black Tie Experience.
Pacanovsky said his experience with the pandemic changed his perspective on how to maintain soft skills in the virtual, in-person and especially the hybrid working environments. He said it can help professionals become more creative when making or maintaining important connections.
First impressions between the in-person and virtual environments are important to maintain more than ever in an environment where virtual and in-person connections are being made.
The soft skills in high demand for businesses are active listening, empathy and employee engagement.
Active listening is vital to reading the room and using that skill virtually can help pick the right moment to share your thoughts. Pacanovsky said the little things such as keeping the camera on during conference calls or being conscious of the language used in messages and emails hone the skill.
“Virtually, we don't know what's going on in someone's home,” he said.” There could be kids screaming. dogs barking, but whatever there is it’s helpful to have a little empathy.”
While many things can’t be controlled in the virtual environment, what is possible to control are efforts to connect and engage with others.
A touch-base meeting over Zoom, Microsoft Teams or getting coffee can seem like a small gesture but can make a big difference in creating meaningful and valuable connections, Pacanovsky said.
“Whether it's remote or a hybrid model, means considering how we engage with others when they're not physically in our location,” said Pacanovsky. “Working virtually means using all those soft skills is going to be vital.”
For more learning on soft skills, browse what we have available at MyOSCPA.