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Soft Skills Assessment Questionnaire to Identify Your Blind Spots

When it comes to interpersonal skills, you can only fix what you know needs fixing. Blind spots are common and can be costly in workplace relationships. Leaders with strong soft skills have good self-awareness and take pains to address their blind spots. This soft skills assessment questionnaire is a good starting point. Be honest as you answer these 20 questions:







People understand my questions, instructions, and ideas the first time I offer them.






I listen carefully to others and avoid mental and environmental distractions while listening






I am able to identify my own priorities and dedicate time and focus to what’s most important






I am effective in enlisting others’ support by showing how our shared goals also meet their needs






I am able to understand and consider diverse points of view before reaching a conclusion






Before offering a solution, I evaluate the situation and pinpoint the root cause of the problem






I take responsibility for my mistakes and proactively work to fix them and learn from them






When working with a team, I draw out the strengths of each individual for the good of the team






I pay attention to the individual motivators, values, and hot buttons of other people






When conflict occurs, I set aside emotional responses and seek mutually beneficial resolutions






I logically evaluate information AND consider emotional impact before making a decision






When change is warranted, I discuss it openly with those who will be affected by it






I give feedback to others to help them continually improve, learn and contribute at high levels






I invite and accept feedback from others so I can continually learn, grow and contribute at high levels






I understand the context and rationale for tasks I do, seeking clarity when I don’t see a purpose






I am assertive in getting my own needs met while also striving to meet the needs of others






When one solution doesn’t work, I seek an alternative rather than giving up too easily






I am willing to try new things and constantly seeking ways to improve and grow






People can count on me to deliver on my promises and to follow through on my commitments






I show compassion and respect for my colleagues, and I am genuinely interested in them as people







While not a comprehensive assessment, this questionnaire has been designed to stimulate self-awareness about common blind spots people have about their own soft skills.

In this series, The Ultimate Guide to Soft Skills for Managers, we started with a definition of soft skills and addressed why they are so important. Conceptually, this serves as an introduction. Practically, though, it’s not enough. If you have a blind spot, you won’t realize that change is needed. That’s where introspection and self-assessment come in. 

Step One: Using the Soft Skills Assessment Questionnaire, Identify Your Blind Spots 

Graphic Showing Wearing a MaskA blind spot is something you are ignorant about or oblivious to. The term is used to describe something about yourself that you cannot see clearly or fully. Most people have a blind spot at one time or another. That’s because the hardest thing to see is often yourself.

Oftentimes, our blind spots cause us to make the same mistakes over and over again. For example, if you’ve experienced recurring situations where you had to backtrack, explain yourself, apologize, and mend fences, it could be because you’re missing something earlier that could prevent misunderstandings and/or miscommunication. Maybe you’re moving so fast that you are inadvertently leaving people behind, making assumptions, or not considering others’ opinions and needs.

In this example, the blind spot could be caused by a focus on efficiency, productivity, speed, or a desire to support others. Blind spots and their negative impacts don’t necessarily come from a nefarious or selfish intent. Oftentimes, they are simply oversights.

When driving, you have a natural blind spot on the left and to your rear. To make sure you’re getting the full picture in that space, you have to check your rearview mirror and your side mirror. You also have to turn your head and glance back over your left shoulder.

It’s the same when you’re looking at yourself. You need to look from multiple perspectives so you don’t miss anything.

Self-assessment is one angle. But don’t look at yourself with just a cursory glance. Look a little longer and a little more intently.

Self-assessment requires honesty and candor. If you were uncomfortable in completing the questionnaire, above, you were probably encountering issues that you would rather not acknowledge or deal with. Defensiveness, rationalizations, and dismissals can be clues to you that there’s something there that merits a closer look.

Being introspective includes asking yourself hard questions. If you checked “sometimes” to any of the questions above, ask yourself “what’s different between the times I do and the times I don’t?” If you checked the box “rarely” ask yourself why you don’t do the item in that row more often. What would happen if you increased the frequency? What is the cost of not doing it more frequently?

In and of itself, being reflective and mindful of your own behaviors is a soft skill. So is the ability to look at yourself objectively and to course correct in ways that improve interpersonal relationships. Once you identify your blind spots, you’ll be able to do much better work on them if you are open to working on them (see Step 2, below).

Make sure you don't have a blindspot when it comes to your soft skills or style. Take the free, self-paced course called The Essentials of Personal Effectiveness to build transferable skills and improve the quality of workplace interactions. 

If you want to up the ante, consider a 360-degree assessment. You can ask others to complete this same questionnaire and give you their perceptions about how often you do each of the 20 items listed. You could also choose an instrument like The Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) with behaviors that are proven to make people more effective as leaders. 

 Step Two: Now, Assess Your Openness to Learning and Growth

 Once you’ve identified the soft skills you need to work on, you can find resources that will help you develop in those areas. For example:

  • If you’ve determined that you need to work on communication skills, check out this on-demand webinar for a quick refresher on communication skills, the cornerstone of interpersonal connections in the workplace.
  • Maybe you discovered that you have some work to do on problem solving, decision making, or prioritizing. This video series on critical thinking will help you build those skills.
  • To work on assertiveness and candidly conveying what you need, register for this free webinar.

How did you react to those suggestions? Were you eager and willing to take an immediate next step and start working on your soft skills?

Or did you find yourself resisting? Putting next steps on the back burner for “some day” when you have more time or when this escalates and the impact has been severe enough to warrant immediate attention?

What that indicates is that you are not fully open and accepting of your need to learn and grow. No offense intended! We all have room to learn and grow. And we all have a need to do so if we are to continue developing as leaders (and as people).

Openness to learning requires a certain kind of humility. We have to admit that we don’t have all the answers and that there are areas where we could improve. This doesn’t make you weak. It actually signifies strength and confidence to acknowledge your own gaps. No one is perfect and the pretense of perfection is both arrogant and weak.

How open are you to learning and growing? You may be somewhat closed off if you:

  • Haven’t voluntarily attended a workshop, webinar, training session, podcast, class, or learning event in the past 12 months.
  • Don’t occasionally read a book or article about skills you don’t have but would like to develop.
  • Resist asking for or listening to feedback from others.
  • Minimize the importance of skills you don’t have, treating them as less important than the ones you have already mastered.
  • Don’t see the value of spending time on learning and development.
  • Have never invested any of your own money in professional development (post college).
  • Dodge challenging new assignments that will require you to learn from others along the way.

When you are truly open, ready and willing to learn, you’ll be more like a sponge who can easily absorb new knowledge. You’ll be thirsty for more, and you’ll enjoy the process of learning.

When you’re ready to grow and develop, you’ll find a wealth of resources. Your openness to learning will open your eyes and mind to new experiences. You will find value anywhere you look.

For deep-level work on soft skills that is efficient and highly effective, you may wish to consider working with a credentialed coach. Not sure if coaching is right for you? Here’s another self-assessment that will help you determine whether or not this coaching is a viable option. 

Step Three: Finally, Consider What This Says about Your Trustworthiness 

Once you are open to learning and growing, you’ll be ready to process what comes next in this article. If you’re not ready, this next section is going to be a hard pill to swallow.

People can’t and won’t trust you if you aren’t able to candidly assess your own strengths and weaknesses. An inability to recognize and admit your own skills deficiencies compromises your credibility.

What’s more, people can’t and won’t trust you if you are not open to feedback and learning. Your arrogance and know-it-all air will cause them to think you lack self-awareness and humility.

At this point, you may be blustering about your trustworthiness because you are an honest person.  You do your work with the utmost of integrity.

But being honest and having integrity are only two of the essentials for being trusted. The 12 Dimensions of Trust reveal ten additional ways we must behave if we want people to fully trust us. If you don’t know these 12 ways that people judge your trustworthiness, you might be violating their trust without even realizing it.

Here’s are two examples.

DWYSYWD: Do you consistently Do What You Say You Will Do (DWYSYWD)?

If you fail to follow through on the little things, people will not trust you to deliver on the big things. Be careful with the promises you make, even the small and seemingly insignificant ones. Don’t make commitments you might not be able to keep.

Many busy managers have a bad habit of casually “kicking the can” by saying things like “I’ll get back to you on that” or “I’ll let you know.” It may be perfectly appropriate to delay a discussion until you have more information or more time. What’s not appropriate is forgetting or failing to follow up in a timely manner. Do this often enough, and people will no longer trust what you say. They’ll feel marginalized and disrespected.

Availability: How available are you? How present are you in a conversation? How easy is it for people to get time with you and to get your full attention when they need it?

Being available to others is another dimension of trust. But we don’t always make the link between being “there” for someone and being trustworthy.  

If you think about the people in your personal life that you trust the most, you’ll realize that they are available to you when you need them. They don’t brush you aside. They don’t give you partial attention as they multi-task or drift away with their own thoughts. You trust them, at least in part, because they give you their focus, time, and attention.

If you’d like to learn more about the 12 Dimensions of Trust and how you might accidentally be breaching someone’s trust, be sure to download more information here.

Your openness and willingness to learn also have an impact on your trustworthiness. Not only that, but if you’re asking others to develop and improve, you ought to be role modeling that to them! We’re all more likely to trust what people tell us to do if they, too, are doing the same thing.

Whatever your soft skills blind spots are, acknowledging and working on them will help you advance your career and be a more effective leader. Be open, be willing, and be committed to becoming the leader your team is counting on you to be.  

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