How to develop Soft skills in the Workplace

Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success and how to improve soft skills in the workplace and how soft skills help boost your career, how develop soft skills
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Prof.WilliamsHibbs,United States,Teacher
Published Date:28-07-2017
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Skills to Pay the Bills Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success Introduction According to the 2007 Every Promise, Every Child: Turning Failure into Action report, a large percentage of young people preparing to enter the workforce over the next two decades are significantly lacking in the “soft” or applied skills — such as teamwork, decision-making, and communication — that will help them become effective employees and managers. In addition, in a Job Outlook 2008 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE), the top characteristics looked for in new hires by 276 employer respondents were all soft skills: communication ability, a strong work ethic, initiative, interpersonal skills, and teamwork. Lastly, the Indiana Business Research Center (IBRC) found that while credentials (degrees and certificates) are important, it is the development of soft skills (those that are more social than technical) that is critical to developing a strong, vibrant workforce. Interestingly, research also suggests that soft skills are not just important for first-time employees. According to a poll released in June 2008 by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), many workplace soft skills have become more important for the experienced professional. These skills include critical thinking/problem solving, leadership, professionalism/work ethic, teamwork/collaboration, and adaptability/flexibility. According to the National Collaborative for Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth), the development of soft skills is identified as a critical component for success in activities such as civic participation and youth leadership in addition to school- and work-based learning experiences. The Guideposts for Success, developed by NCWD/Youth in collaboration with its funding agency, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), clearly indicate the need for all youth to have exposure to training focusing on job seeking and workplace basic skills. To further explore this important issue, ODEP convened a group of distinguished U.S. businesses in 2007. During the discussion, participating companies identified the following competencies as key to the success of young workers: Communication; Networking; Enthusiasm and Attitude; Teamwork; Problem Solving and Critical Thinking; and Professionalism. It was at this meeting that the leaders at ODEP thought materials should be made available to youth service professionals to assist them as they prepare all youth, including youth with disabilities, for employment. Building on that dialogue, the activities in this publication were created to provide an introduction to the “basics” of soft skills. These materials have been designed with youth service professionals in mind – specifically those working with in-school and out-of-school youth, ages 14 to 21, on career and workforce readiness skills. The basic foundation for the structure of these activities includes convenience, cost-effectiveness, and creativity. They were designed in such a way as to be easily incorporated into current programming and/or already established curricula. 7Skills to Pay the Bills Soft skills cannot be taught in a vacuum nor can they be acquired simply because the goal of a lesson plan indicates it shall be so. Rather, they must be introduced, developed, refined, practiced, and reinforced. ODEP is committed to providing resources regarding soft skills in a way that is useful, creative, hands-on and fundamentally beneficial for all types of youth programs, and thus, all types of learners. The contents of this publication reflect that commitment. Activity Layout These activities were created for all youth, regardless of disability or differences in learning style, and as such have been designed with an inclusive spirit and a structure supporting universal design for learning. Each exercise consists of an activity designed to get young people thinking about, practicing, and discussing skills important for career and personal success – soft skills. Additionally, these activities are not weighed down with instructional methodology or specific teaching strategies, since it is the youth service professional who knows his/her audience best, and what might work well for one group of youth participants may clearly not work well for another. As a facilitator, you are encouraged to modify these activities in any way that better meets the needs and interests of your particular group. All activities are structured as follows: JUST THE FACTS: This is the basic purpose of the activity – plain and simple – and is intended to be a brief description for the instructor. Time: A suggested time frame is offered for planning purposes. Of course, as activities are altered or modified for various reasons, times may invariably change. Materials: A list of suggested materials for the activity is provided. The goal of the basic activity is to keep materials to a minimum. Directions: Directions, including sample scripts, are offered for convenience. You are encouraged to adapt or modify these activities to better resonate with your particular audience, as these activities offer an opportunity to tackle some difficult issues and conversations. Conclusion: The conclusion is a guide to engage participants in a thoughtful conversation. The goal of this dialogue is to encourage independent ideas and reasoning. 8Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success Journaling Activity: Journaling questions are offered as a way to incorporate personal reflection using an individualized means of expression. Participants should be encouraged to choose a form of journaling that feels right for them, while also being supported to “test the waters” with a technique that might stretch a traditional comfort zone. The following alternatives to “traditional” journaling (writing) are offered as suggestions: • Dictate ideas/thoughts and/or use the computer (with or without voice-recognition software) • Create poems, lists, stream of consciousness, as a method of reflection • Draw (cartoons, pictures, etc.) • Use photography (taking pictures, cutting out magazines) to create collages For younger audiences (such as middle school-aged), you may find it necessary to modify the suggested journal questions to better reflect age, experience, and environment. Extension Activity: An extension activity is offered for facilitators who wish to continue the topic. This activity may involve the use of technology, field trips, research, and more. 9Skills to Pay the Bills Through the Lens of Universal Design for Learning The activities in this publication are career development “warm-ups” for youth. Certainly, they may be used as the basis for planning lessons focusing on more extensive career and workforce development pursuits. The directions and extension activities have been specifically designed and created through a lens of universal design for learning. According to CAST (previously known as the Center for Applied Special Technology), universal design for learning is: a framework for designing educational environ- ments that enable all learners to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. This is accom- plished by simultaneously reducing barriers to the curriculum while providing rich supports for learning. As most youth development professionals recognize, young people come to pre-employment and employment training programs with a very wide variety of skills, talents, interests, and needs. For many youth, the typical classroom curriculum – which includes goals, instructional methods, classroom materials, and assessments – is cluttered with barriers and roadblocks, providing little support or opportunities to succeed for a wide range of learners. Rather than make extraordinary adjustments for particular students, universal design for learning lessens this conundrum. As you work through these activities, consider incorporating some of the following strategies, which support universal design for learning: • Seek opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning through multiple modalities (e.g., written, oral, graphic representations, and multi-media representations). • Encourage the use of technology to enhance learning (access to multi-media materials) and performance (e.g., spell check and word prediction software). • Include opportunities for students to complete “do-overs” based on your feedback. • Provide instructions describing the components or steps for completion for activities. You might consider having printed copies of directions, audio-taped instructions, and pictures. If you have access to a computer or laptop, instructions can be both seen and heard on the computer. Most computers today come equipped with accessibility software and are often pre-packaged with a magnifier, on-screen keyboard, narrator functions, and high contrast options. • Encourage students to play an active role and present their own thoughts and opinions throughout the activities. • Provide feedback to individual students in multiple forms (for example, face-to-face, email, online chat, telephone, etc.). • Include opportunities for students to collaborate. • Provide opportunities for students to contact you to ask questions. • Promote a strengths-based learning process. Regardless of any barrier to employment (including, but not limited to disability) the activities in this publication, coupled with the strategies and spirit of universal design for learning (and a sprinkle of creativity), are intended to help all youth prepare for career and personal success through the development of soft skills. 10Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success Tips f or Improving Access to this Curriculum for All Youth Today’s in- and out-of-school youth career development programs are a true microcosm of our local communities. Within one learning environment multiple categories of youth are often represented. This includes, but is not limited to, youth in the foster care system, at risk of dropping out of school, involved in the juvenile justice system, and/or for whom English may not be their primary language. The one population of youth that has the potential to overlap with all of the above-mentioned populations is youth with disabilities. The term disability applies to a broad array of differences, covering everything from learning disabilities to significant mobility impairment. Disabilities can be both apparent and non-apparent. As a youth service professional, you likely already encounter and serve many youth with disabilities. For instance: • 36% of high school dropouts have learning disabilities and 59% have emotional or behavioral disorders • 75% of youth in the juvenile justice system have some type of disability • 20 to 60% of young children entering foster care have a developmental disability or delay • 30 to 40% of the 500,000 foster care youth receive special education services In addition to these youth with disabilities, there may be other youth you work with for whom their disability has not been identified or has not been disclosed. Successful youth service professionals recognize that disability is an aspect of diversity, and are prepared to support students from different backgrounds, cultures, and educational environments. Furthermore, they understand that all youth learn in different ways. If possible, prior to beginning the activities in this curriculum, take time to get to know your students. Talk with all students openly about strengths and weaknesses. Ask them to think about how they learn best and what they might need from you (or a supervisor) to facilitate their success. When you prepare to use these lessons remember – one size does not fit all. To meet the youth’s needs, try to step out of your preferred method of teaching (or your personal comfort zone) and use a variety of instructional approaches such as: discussions, PowerPoint presentations, inquiry-based instruction, hands-on experiments, project/problem-based learning, or computer-aided instruction. This curriculum is designed to provide information to learners and instructors in a variety of ways. Instructors are encouraged to adapt activities to meet the needs of each class. Providing variety of instruction not only will address various learning styles, but also can help learners become more flexible in their learning. While most learners do have a preferred style of learning, this does not mean they are strictly dependent on that style to learn. By exposing young people to a wide variety of learning styles and methods, you will enable them to become more flexible learners. Providing a variety of activities and access to learning will enable students of all ability levels to succeed. 11Skills to Pay the Bills Consider the following global strategies: • Appreciate the individuality of each youth. Having young people recognize that you appreciate their individuality is even more important. • Demonstrate that you are committed to meeting the needs of all students and that you are open to conversation and discussion about how to help them learn and succeed. • Recognize that we all have our own learning styles and cultural assumptions. These styles and assumptions influence how we teach and what we expect from our students. Often times our preferred method of teaching is not a student’s preferred (or required) method of learning. • Prepare multiple examples to illustrate your points and help students move between abstract, theoretical, and concrete knowledge, specific experiences to expand everyone’ s learning. Use pair and group work to help students learn from each other. Consider the following inclusive teaching strategies: • Get young people “doing” in addition to listening. Whether it is a group exercise, using a role play activity, or an individual paper and pencil exercise such as journaling or drawing, creating lessons that engage different learning styles and engage young people in a variety of ways allows everyone to access the curriculum. • Repetition, repetition, repetition. It often takes repeated exposure to something before we remember it. Taking extra time to reinforce earlier topics in the context of the new ideas being discussed will help young people retain the important lessons and skills needed to be successfully employed. You can be creative in the ways you repeat concepts or emphasize a point: when the concept is considered again, offer it from a different point of view or when the concept is demonstrated again, use a different exercise. • Excitement is contagious. Demonstrating honesty, authenticity, and excitement for working with youth can often inspire the same qualities within the youth themselves as they engage with this curriculum. Your passion is infectious. As a youth service professional, it is important that you find ways to maintain your passion and excitement and recharge when necessary. • Presume competence and instill confidence. Providing young people with confidence and an opportunity to succeed is one of the best gifts you can give. Have high expectations for all youth and help them to realize their potential as you support them to become independent decision- makers for their future. Whatever teaching or training strategies you put into place, there will be students who will require accommodations. Making accommodations benefits not only the intended recipient but also other class participants. Any adjustments or adaptations should be targeted specifically to the area of difficulty or functional limitation the individual is experiencing. The following list of strategies is offered as a guide to use when considering changes, adaptations, and accommodations to the way information is both presented and received within the learning environment to create the greatest potential for success for all youth. 12Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success Possible Reading Accommodations • Underline or highlight key concepts • Provide a word bank or a list of important words for review and discussion • Use recorded reading passages or use computer screen reading software • Allow for extra time • Provide an outline or a preview of the material before it is to be read • Rather than require individuals read aloud, ask for volunteers • Read aloud and use discussion and reflection strategies to ensure comprehension Possible Writing Accommodations • Allow for dictation (and have someone else write) • Supply the individual with pre-written assignment sheets, rather than requiring copying • Allow extra time for journal writing • Provide (spelling) word banks for writing assignments • Use computers with voice recognition software to allow for dictation • Provide opportunities for proofreading before completion of a writing project Possible Audio/Visual Accommodations • Record information presented and allow it to be listened to for review • Provide outline of lessons • Provide pre-written notes or designate a note-taker • Summarize lessons on a regular basis • Keep instructions brief • Present lessons in multi-sensory ways Possible Math Related Accommodations • Allow the use of calculators • Provide graph paper for calculations • Allow additional time and/or group projects involving math • Read and discuss math questions aloud Possible Organizational Skills Accommodation • Use a recording device to allow the individual to listen to the information for review • Color code papers, folders, or notebooks to help with organization • Use post-it arrows to mark important pages or information in books • Present material in multi-sensory ways, allowing for hands-on instruction • For lengthier projects, encourage “check-ins” at different (and agreed upon) points 13Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success Communication Communication skills are important to everyone - they are how we give and receive information and convey our ideas and opinions with those around us. Communication comes in many forms: Communication skills are ranked FIRST among a job candidate’s “must have” • verbal (sounds, language, and tone of voice) skills and qualities, according to a • aural (listening and hearing) 2010 survey conducted by the National • non-verbal (facial expressions, body language, and posture) Association of Colleges and Employers. • written (journals, emails, blogs, and text messages) • visual (signs, symbols, and pictures) It is important to develop a variety of skills for both communicating TO others and learning how to interpret the information received FROM others. Knowing our audience and understanding how they need to receive information is equally important as knowing ourselves. To an employer, good communication skills are essential. In fact, employers consistently rank good communication skills at the top of the list for potential employees. During an interview, for example, employers are impressed by a job candidate who answers questions with more than one-word answers (such as yeah…nah…dunno), demonstrates that he or she is listening, and shares information and ideas (by asking questions for clarification and/or follow-up). The interview can be an indication to employers of how the candidate or employee will interact with supervisors, co-workers, and customers or resolve conflicts when they arise. R emember, non-verbal communication is also critical in an interview. Employers expect good eye contact, good posture, and “active” listening. One of the challenges in the workplace is learning the specific communication styles of others and how and when to share your ideas or concerns. Though some supervisors may specifically ask for your opinion, others may assume if there is something important they need to know, you will bring it to their attention – or if there is something you are unsure about, you will ask. Knowing how to listen carefully and when to ask for help is important. If an employee and a supervisor learn to communicate well (in whatever method that works), there is a greater likelihood of job retention and promotion. The activities in this section will not only help participants practice and recognize how they provide information to others, but also help them consider how others may prefer to receive information. It is important to reinforce with participants that communication skills involve give and take – and they can, indeed, be learned and strengthened over time. 17Skills to Pay the Bills Note to facilitators: Communication skills are necessary for the development of self-advocacy and self-determination, important skills for lifelong success. To that end, the activities in this section offer many opportunities for youth to practice communicating their strengths and assets while learning how to minimize any perceived barriers to employment. Please take the opportunity to add to or tweak any of the activities to better focus on the needs of your particular group. For example, if working with youth with disabilities, create opportunities to practice communicating how, when, and to whom to disclose a disability on the job or in post-secondary education and/or different ways to communicate a request for a reasonable accommodation. If you support youth involved in the juvenile justice system, enhance this section’s extension activities to include practicing how to communicate the proactive changes they are making in their lives, what they have learned from previous experiences, and how any mistakes of the past have helped them to become more focused and dedicated young adults. 18Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success 1. Whats ’ Your Point? JUST THE FACTS: This activity helps participants understand the importance of being specific when offering and receiving communication. Often times our meaning gets lost, twisted, or misunderstood because we haven’t been specific enough in our communication or we haven’t asked clarifying questions. These role plays are designed to demonstrate the value of being specific in communication…T O others and in what is received FROM others. Time 20 minutes Materials • A few copies of Activity 1 (at least one copy per volunteer actor/actress). • Costumes and other props, if possible. Directions Ask for volunteers to act out a short role play. Each skit requires two people: one employee and one supervisor. In the first role play, Jade has a job mowing lawns and receives some not-so-positive feedback from Mr. Z., a client. In the second role play, Will works at a dentist’s office and has gotten into some trouble with his boss, Ms. T. Suggestion: Encourage participants to ad-lib, or improvise, if they feel comfortable. Giving youth permission to ad-lib often makes activities more “real” and memorable. In addition, youth may wish to retry one or more of the skits and create their own characters. After each skit is read, ask the following questions: • Role Play 1: How did Jade handle Mr. Z.’s comments? What did she do right? Was there anything she could have done differently? What about Mr. Z.? What could he have done differently? • Role Play 2: How do you think Ms. T. handled the situation with Will’s lateness? How did Will handle Ms. T.’s disapproval? What might he have done differently? What might Ms. T. have done differently? 19Skills to Pay the Bills Conclusion In either of these role-play situations, the employee could have “copped an attitude” or gotten defensive with the adult. Reread one or both of the activities and act out the situation differently. What would it have looked and sounded like if Jade had not demonstrated such a mature attitude? What would it have looked and sounded like if Will hadn’t offered a suggestion for his situation? Because each employee remained calm and asked additional questions to get clarity about each situation, he/she was able to communicate with the other person – and clearly identify the problem. Is this easy or difficult for you to do in most situations? If it’ s easy, what are some strategies you use that help you to “keep your cool”? If it’s difficult, what might you try to do differently? Journaling Activity Think about a time when a parent, teacher, or friend criticized you. What happened? How did this make you feel? How did you handle it? Are you proud of the way you handled it? What might you do differently if something like this happens in the future? Did this experience change the way you offer feedback to others? Extension Activity Divide the group into smaller groups (no more than four per group). Have participants share (if they are comfortable) the situation they used for their journal entry. Use the situations to create and act out new role-play situations for the other groups. Three discussion questions should be written as well – and discussed as a group. Create three questions to be used with the larger group after the role-play is acted out. 20Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success Activity 1. What’s Your Point? ROLE PLAY 1 Scenario: Jade has her first job mowing lawns. She works for her best friend’ s brother who owns a landscaping company. She’s had the job for about three weeks and really feels like she’s getting into the groove. In fact, it’s the perfect job for her: she loves being outside and appreciates the fact that she can work on her own and even listen to her MP3 player Jade arrives early at Mr. Z.’s house (her first customer of the day) and gets ready to begin mowing. Mr. Z.: You’re finally here Jade: Hi, Mr. Z. Yes, I’m here to mow your lawn. Mr. Z.: Well, you didn’t do a very good job last week. Jade: I wasn’t the person who mowed your lawn, but I’d like to hear why you were unhappy with the job. Mr. Z.: It was just a mess Jade: Can you please be more specific? What exactly didn’t you like? In what way was it a mess? Mr. Z.: Well, it looked just awful. Jade: Mr . Z., I really want to make sure that whatever upset you last time doesn’t happen again. If you will tell me exactly what you want done differently in the future, it will really help me to be sure your lawn is mowed just the way you like it. Mr. Z.: Well, the cut grass was left on the lawn, and the edges weren’t straight. Jade: Okay, let me be sure I understand. Besides mowing, you want us to be sure to rake up, remove the cut grass, and be more careful to straighten the edging. Mr. Z.: Yes, that is exactly what I expect Jade: Thanks, Mr. Z. I’ll be sure to do those things today, and I will let the boss know that’s what you’d like done from now on. Mr. Z.: Thank you very much. 21Skills to Pay the Bills Activity 1. What’s Your Point? ROLE PLAY 2 Scenario: Will works in a large dental office and winds up rushing to get to work every day after school. His job tasks include filing, making photocopies, stuffing envelopes, and answering the telephone. Ms. T, the office manager, has asked to speak with Will about his time sheet. Ms. T.: Hello, Will. I would like to talk with you. Will: Yes, Ms. T.? Ms. T.: Will, I’ve been watching your time this week, and I’m quite concerned. Will: Ms. T., I see that you’re not happy, but will you please be more specific? Ms. T.: You’re not getting here on time. Will: I know I’ve been arriving to work late, and I am sorry. Ms. T.: W ell, look at your time today. You were supposed to be here at 3:15 this afternoon and it’s now 3:30 and you just walked in. We need to be able to depend on you to be here at the time you’re scheduled to work. Will: I understand that you expect me to be here on time. I’m getting here as quickly as I can after school. Would it be possible to change my start time to 3:30? I can put in the extra 15 minutes at the end of the workday instead. Ms. T.: Well, I suppose we can try that. Are you absolutely sure that you can make it here every day by 3:30? Will: I’m sorry that I’ve been getting here late and upsetting you. I really do think that I can be here every day by 3:30, but if for some reason I can’t make it here by that time, I will be sure to call to let you know. Ms. T.: That would be very helpful. Thank you, Will. 22Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success 2. Flipping the Switch JUST THE FACTS: The purpose of this activity is to encourage youth to discuss the different types of communication they might use in different situations and environments. It introduces the idea that language/communication varies by context – and that it’s important to understand what might be acceptable and expected in one setting may not be appropriate in another. Time 30 Minutes Materials • Activity 2 • Optional: Flip chart/markers Directions Ask participants to describe or demonstrate how they communicate with their friends. Then ask how they communicate with family members. Finally, ask how they are likely to communicate with an employer at a job interview. Discuss the differences and similarities in the participants’ responses. Ask the group: • Why is each situation different? • What are the expectations of each person? • What would happen if you greeted your friends in the way you greeted an interviewer? • What would happen if you greeted an interviewer the same way you greet your friends? Knowing how to communicate with people in the right context for a given situation is an important skill, as there are often unspoken rules and standards that are just expected. For example, it’s common practice in the professional world to shake hands with people when meeting, rather than offering a high- five or a hug. We might use slang with our friends when talking about what happened at school or at a party, but we would usually use different words and mannerisms when telling our parents the same information. Use Activity 2 to compare and contrast the differences in how we might share the same type of information to different groups. 23Skills to Pay the Bills Conclusion Discuss the following ideas with participants, encouraging an honest dialogue: 1. When the group changes, does the message change? Why or why not? 2. What are some examples of communication (both verbal and non-verbal) that you should always try to practice when communicating with an employer? How would your friends react to you if you communicated with them in the same way you would to an employer? Journaling Activity We all communicate differently with different people in our lives. Does the way you communicate (or say things) affect how others perceive you? Explain. Extension Activity We build great relationships by learning to become great communicators. This is not always an easy task as we sometimes may experience barriers to communication – especially in the workplace. Take some time to explore with the group the following eight barriers. Think about what they are and ways in which these barriers can be lessened or eliminated for successful communication. The facilitator may wish to emphasize the importance of non-verbal communication skills, as young people often overlook these skills. • Physical • Language • Perceptual • Gender • Emotional • Interpersonal • Cultural • Generational 24Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success Activity 2. Flipping the Switch Consider the following situations. Create a list, discuss, draw a picture, or encourage participants to act out the different ways one might communicate with each of following groups: • FRIENDS • FAMILY • PROFESSIONAL (INTERVIEWER, EMPLOYER, TEACHER, ETC.) Be sure to explore BOTH verbal language (what we say and how we say it, i.e., tone of voice) and non-verbal language (facial expressions, behavior, body language, etc.) SITUATION 1: Saying hello or goodbye Friends: Family: Professional: SITUATION 2: Asking for help Friends: Family: Professional: SITUATION 3: Emailing or texting Friends: Family: Professional: SITUATION 4: Showing excitement Friends: Family: Professional: SITUATION 5: (Create your own) Friends: Family: Professional: 25 Skills to Pay the Bills 3. Oh, Puh-leeeeeeze JUST THE FACTS: The purpose of this activity is to help youth gain a better understanding of how non-verbal communication (both intended and unintended) can be interpreted by others…and the impact and effect of this form of communication. Time 20 minutes Materials • Activity 3 (words and/or pictures cut out) Directions Ask participants if they have ever gotten caught rolling their eyes at a teacher, parent, co-worker, or supervisor? Ask for a show of hands. Whether you rolled your eyes intentionally or didn’t even realize you did it, how do you think your action was interpreted? Answers will vary but might include: I’m bored, you are really annoying, yeah right, I’m sooooo not interested in what you are saying or doing. There are all types of communication. Believe it or not, the type that uses no words is the kind that is the most important. When it comes to communication, what people SEE is often more memorable than what they read or hear. This is often referred to as body language. Body language includes facial expressions, eye behavior, gestures, posture, and more. Body language can express your emotions, feelings, and attitudes. It can even contradict what you say verbally People in different cultures may understand some global non-verbal expressions, while other expressions may be culture specific. If the participants are from many different cultures, ask if they can give an example of non-verbal communication cues specific to their culture. Cut out the words in Activity 3, fold each and place in a hat, bowl, or bag. Ask each person in the group to take one piece of paper. Using body language and facial expressions only, ask each person to demonstrate this emotion, while others try to guess it. As an alternative, you can download "emoticons" and have participants match or identify what each picture describes. Continue until all words or pictures have been used/guessed. 26Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success Conclusion Read the following statement to the group: ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. Then ask: • How many have heard this expression? When/where? • What does it mean? • How is this possible when actions do not “speak”? Journaling Activity Many people dream of being successful, but their actions can sometimes hold them back. What are some ways you can be sure that your actions help you to achieve your goals in life? Extension Activity Consider the following seven types of non-verbal signals and cues we often use to communicate our interest in and to others. Create a list of Do’s and Don’ts for avoiding common body language mistakes on the job. 1. Facial expressions: The human face is extremely expressive, able to convey countless emotions without saying a word. And unlike some forms of non-verbal communication, facial expressions are universal. The facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust are the same across cultures. 2. Body movements and posture: Consider how your perceptions of people are affected by the way they sit, walk, stand up, or hold their head. The way you move and carry yourself communicates a lot of information to the world. This type of non-verbal communication includes your posture, bearing, stance, and subtle movements. 3. Gestures: We wave, point, plead, and often use our hands when we are arguing or speaking in an animated way. However, the meaning of gestures can be very different across cultures and regions, so it’s important to be careful to avoid misinterpretation. 4. Eye contact: Since the visual sense is dominant for most people, eye contact is an especially important type of non-verbal communication. The way you look at someone can communicate many things, including interest, affection, hostility, or attraction. Eye contact is also important in maintaining the flow of conversation and for assessing another person’s response. 5. Touch: We communicate a great deal through touch. Think about the messages given by the following: a firm handshake, a timid tap on the shoulder , a warm bear hug, a reassuring pat on the back, a patronizing pat on the head, or a controlling grip on your arm. 27Skills to Pay the Bills 6. Space: Have you ever felt uncomfortable during a conversation because the other person was standing too close and invading your space? We all have a need for physical space, although that need differs depending on the culture, situation, and closeness of the relationship. You can use physical space to communicate many different non-verbal messages, including signals of intimacy, aggression, dominance, or affection. 7. Voice: We communicate with our voices, even when we are not using words. Non-verbal speech sounds such as tone, pitch, volume, inflection, rhythm, and rate are important communication elements. When we speak, other people “read” our voices in addition to listening to our words. These non-verbal speech sounds provide subtle but powerful clues into our true feelings and what we really mean. Think about how tone of voice, for example, can indicate sarcasm, anger, affection, or confidence. 28

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