Soft Skills Land the Job

“If we want people to pay attention to us, we must first be patient and pay attention to them.” These are the words of master communicator Sam Horn in her book Talking on Eggshells: Soft Skills for Hard Conversations.

man-listeningSam has joined us for sessions of ExecuNet Master Class several times over the years, most recently in 2023. I am a big fan of her wisdom on effective communication. She shares with leaders in mind, but her principles can easily be utilized in everyday life too.

In 2022, LinkedIn’s director of product management Rohan Rajiv stated, “Hard skills can get a recruiter’s attention, but soft skills help you land the job.” No one better understands this or helps leaders develop their soft skills better than Sam.

In Talking on Eggshells, she shared tons of sage wisdom on being a better communicator. Today, I want to draw your attention to one concept she discusses that I have put into play in every aspect of my life, personally and professionally: the concept of Look, Lean, Lift, Level.

  • Look: Look the other person in the eyes. No matter how good you may think you are at multi-talking, if you are looking elsewhere, your attention is at best divided. People aren’t going to feel valued or heard if your eyes aren’t on them…and you’ll miss stuff.
  • Lean: Lean toward them. Leaning toward another person projects interest. You are giving the vibe of being on the “edge of your seat” interested in what they have to say, and you are certainly indicating your engagement in the conversation…looking at a screen doesn’t do that.
  • Lift: Lift your eyebrows. This is a universal sign of interest. “You will both appear more intrigued and feel more intrigued,” says Sam. Doing this eliminates the “stone face” that makes other people uncomfortable and shuts down communication.
  • Level: Get to eye level with the other person. If you are standing and the other person is sitting (or if you are tall and they are not), there is a projection of not seeing eye-to-eye. How can the person at the lower level feel heard (or safe/happy) if you’re towering over them? Teachers are taught to get down to eye level with students whenever they can, so they aren’t an imposing figure. This allows the student to more easily open up to what the teacher is trying to impart. It works with adults too.

This is easy stuff to put into practice and will make a huge difference in how we are perceived by others. We are all busy and take shortcuts to save time, but if we don’t take time to truly listen, in the end, those shortcuts don’t help us. It just takes a little mindfulness to get the four Ls internalized. If you put this into action in your everyday interactions, you will be a much better leader, husband/wife, friend, colleague, parent…communicator.



William Flamme

William Flamme

William Flamme is ExecuNet's Associate Director of Content Marketing, where he develops engaging job search, career path, and leadership insight to build ExecuNet's brand recognition as the leader in senior-level executive job search and all matters career.

He delivers executive-level content across the various properties under the ExecuNet brand, amplifying the power of ExecuNet's expert voices and shaping the content strategy.

Prior to joining ExecuNet in 2008, Will earned a master's degree in education and taught fifth grade and sixth grade. As a teacher, he deepened his appreciation for the written word and mastered skills necessary for managing writers who sometimes view deadlines as homework. It is his training as an educator which allows Will to take complex ideas and make them simple for busy executives to understand and to execute.

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