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  • Lokajit Tikayatray

Why Soft Skills Matter for Every Programmer's Success

Have you ever wondered why some software engineers seem to have it all — exciting projects, recognition, and promotions — while others, perhaps even more technically skilled, hit a wall?

What if the secret isn’t in the programming skill but in the skills most programmers underestimate?


You should be.

Foundational soft skills were featured in 78% of jobs posted globally over the last three months.
89% of recruiters say that when a hire doesn’t work out, it’s usually due to a lack of soft skills.

These aren’t just numbers; they’re a wake-up call for every software engineer out there.

In my eighteen years in the industry, I’ve noticed that engineers who are good with people often do better than their technically skilled peers. In this article, we’ll go over these ‘hidden’ skills that could be a game-changer in your career.

If you’ve ever felt that burning desire not just to succeed but to excel and become a leader in your field, you can’t afford to miss what comes next.

Ready to unlock your full potential? Let’s dive in.

1. The Myth of the Lone Genius

You may think, “Aren’t technical skills the cornerstone of software engineering? Isn’t it all about mastering algorithms, data structures, and writing clean code?

Well, let’s debunk the myth of the lone genius right now.

Software engineering is far from a solitary endeavor; it’s a collective pursuit.

You are not alone as a programmer. You’re a vital component of a team striving to achieve shared objectives. And here’s the eye-opener — that team requires more than just coding skills to succeed.

Effective communication, empathy, and collaboration are indispensable for a team’s success. If you have trouble connecting with others or working together, your technical skills won’t help the team much.

2. The “I’m Too Smart for This” Trap

Ah, the ego trap. You’ve mastered Python, you’re a pro at machine learning, and you think soft skills are beneath you.

But here’s the kicker —  nobody likes a know-it-all.

Your attitude matters just as much in the workplace as your technical aptitude.

Being open to feedback, willing to adapt, and understanding other people’s perspectives are skills that will make you a valuable team member. So, let go of the ego and start paying attention to soft skills.

3. The Communication Breakdown

Imagine this — you’ve developed an incredible feature but can’t explain it to your non-technical stakeholders. Or worse, you can’t even make your fellow developers understand.

Sound familiar?

This is where poor communication skills can become a major roadblock in your career.

Being able to translate complex technical jargon into simple, relatable language is a must-have skill to stand out for programmers.

It’s not just about making presentations; it’s about crafting clear emails, documenting your code well, and being able to articulate your thoughts in discussions.

4. The Underrated Power of Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Have you ever found yourself overwhelmed by stress or conflicts at work?

If so, you’re not alone.

Programming careers can be hectic, with tight deadlines, never-ending technology upgrades, and frequent requirement changes.

The solution may lie in an often-overlooked area — Emotional Intelligence, or EQ.

Why is EQ so crucial?

Emotional intelligence is an extremely valuable trait in any individual. It enables people to stay in control, build collaborative workplace relationships, and achieve extraordinary career growth.

An excellent way of cultivating emotional intelligence is by observing how people with high EQ behave in situations you find hard to manage. Once you imbibe these characteristics, you can have a much better handle on your actions and, thus, on your career success.

5. The Unbeatable Advantage of Teamwork

You’ve heard it a million times, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” It might sound cliché, but it couldn’t be more accurate, especially for software engineers.

As we’ve discussed the importance of soft skills like communication, empathy, and emotional intelligence, let’s not underestimate the power of being a team player.

As a programmer, you don’t work in a vacuum. You’re part of a larger ecosystem that includes designers, product managers, leaders, business stakeholders, and other engineers.

Being a team player amplifies all your other skills. It builds a healthy work culture and makes working with you enjoyable. And when people enjoy working with you, you become the go-to person for more challenging and rewarding projects.

How to Develop Soft Skills?

Now you know soft skills are key to a successful career in software engineering. But how do you go about developing these skills?

1. Self-awareness is the First Step

To develop soft skills, the first step is being aware. We’ve debunked myths and emphasized their importance.

Take a moment to self-reflect.

Are you an effective communicator? Do you work well in a team? Are you empathetic towards others? Self-assessment tools and feedback from peers can be invaluable here.

2. Seek Constructive Feedback

Be proactive in asking for feedback. External perspectives can provide insights into areas you might not have considered, whether from your colleagues, mentors, or even friends. Take this feedback seriously and act on it.

3. Continuous Learning

There are countless resources available to help you improve your soft skills. The options are endless, from online courses and workshops to self-help books and podcasts. Like you would invest time learning a new programming language, invest in developing your soft skills.

4. Practice Makes Perfect

Soft skills, like any other skills, improve with practice. Take every opportunity to work on your communication, collaboration, and leadership ability. Volunteer for projects that push you out of your comfort zone. Engage in team activities and take on leadership roles, even if they’re small.

5. Track Your Progress

Set achievable goals and timelines for improving your soft skills. Regularly review your progress and adjust your strategies as needed. Remember, improvement is a continuous process.

6. Learn from the Best

Earlier, we discussed the importance of observing people with high EQ in challenging situations. Apply the same principle here. Identify people who excel in soft skills and learn from them. Whether it’s how they handle criticism or how they lead a team, there’s likely something valuable you can learn.

Conclusion: Soft Skills for Programmers' Success

How to develop soft skills?

So, there you have it. While technical skills may get your foot in the door, your soft skills will open new doors for your career.

We’ve debunked the myth of the lone genius. We’ve also talked about the power of emotional intelligence and teamwork. These ‘hidden’ soft skills for programmers' success can make you stand out in software engineering.

It’s not about what you know but how you apply it and how well you work with others.

Are you ready to invest in yourself and take your career to the next level? The choice is yours. But one thing is clear — mastering soft skills is the key to unlocking your full potential.


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