I was an introvert. And I couldn’t stand out as a designer…
Until I realized that the craft itself was only half the battle.
The other half? Great communication skills.
By focusing on these skills I was able to:
- Nearly 3x my income
- Stop working late nights and weekends
- Land more inspiring projects
Because the harsh reality of creative work is that hard skills (like being able to code, design, write, etc) get you hired while soft skills (like communication and team building) get you promoted.
Unfortunately, though, many creatives feel like the communication skills aren’t things they can learn.
And that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Here’s 6 soft skills to focus on that will all lead to huge leaps in your career growth 📈:
1. Frontload questions
Instead of spending the majority of the time creating and very little time communicating, try flipping it in reverse.
Spend more of your time at the beginning of projects asking questions before doing any work.
And make sure to confirm the answers you get several times to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Not only will it help you to align on goals and prevent projects from falling off track but it will also make your creation phase faster, easier, and infinitely more enjoyable.
2. Underpromise & overdeliver
Think about it like this…if you were to tell your boss or client that you were going to be finishing a project late AND it was going to take more money to get it done, how do you think they would feel?
Do that too many times and you start to become the least reliable person in the company.
BUT if you’re always finishing ahead of schedule and it took less money to get there…well you just made yourself the most in-demand person in the room.
3. Be a partner
What other roles will you be working alongside?
Who has to take the torch from you once your work is done?
By asking these questions of yourself you can start to find areas that may need more of your energy.
And by stepping in to help make everyones lives easier around you, you become the first person people think of when they know something needs to get done correctly.
As an added bonus, you’re not only showing your coworkers that you can be counted on for being reliable but the final output of the project (whether that be a design, an ad, etc) will benefit as a result.
4. Look for gaps in process
Has a specific step proved difficult in the past?
Are there external partners that need to be looped in?
The more disconnects you can find and step in to help fix…
The more fluid the project will become.
This is a direct result of first becoming more of a partner to other coworkers. And it leads to more work and higher pay over time.
5. Put your marketing hat on
Most business leaders don’t care about your creative work. But they do care about data and seeing a return on their money.
Prove your worth by showcasing positive growth whenever possible. And use hard data to back it up.
Doing so will put you in the top 10% of those doing the work…because in creative industries most designers, writers, coders, etc aren’t proving their worth.
6. Don’t take feedback personally
Build a tough skin, choose your battles, and develop informed opinions.
Make the feedback process less about your own decision making and more about finding the right external answer. Even if that means admitting that your solution was wrong.
Because it’s not about you being right. It’s about finding the right answer together with your coworkers or clients.
Prove that you’re a teammate who’s in it for the long haul. And not just in it for a quick win and to show off.
Trying to get better at communicating can be an exhausting task. But by following a few of the examples above you’ll set yourself up for long term success in whatever creative endeavor you pursue.
And above all else, think about how to help solve other peoples difficulties. Just that single mindset shift will make everything else easier and more enjoyable.