In the wake of current events, it is important to note that while hard skills are important and should be practiced, soft skills should not be neglected. In the context of security, soft skills are behavioral skills that individuals learn and develop over time from dealing with difficult situations. They are cognitive skills that every person requires in life. All the training and certifications in hard skills doesn’t help unless you have soft skills to support them.
Key soft skills that are put into application in the security industry include communication, analytical thinking/critical thinking, collaboration/teamwork, attention-to-detail, personal responsibility, and resilience.
Communication is critical to maintain safety and security within an area and among the public. Think of the many situations when verbal de-escalation is used to prevent hard skills where the security officer attempts to have an escalated patron comply to prevent a scene. Poor verbal communication skills often result in higher-level hard skills when it should always be the last resort.
It’s important to have great judgment, be able to analyze and think critically, and implement problem solving. In analytical thinking you mentally process or break down complex or comprehensive information into parts or basic principles. Then you begin to think critically to carefully evaluate the information and determine how to interpret it in order to make sound judgment. From this you begin to solve the problem or find the most appropriate solution. In any number of circumstances you analyze the situation and weigh the pros and cons of each. For instance, when speaking with a suspicious subject and analyzing their honesty to weigh the plausibility of their story against the reality of the scenario.
In many cases you may have one security officer working a facility solo but when even one person is added to the equation then the ability to work together becomes vital to the outcome of security. Personalities clash because of ego, bullying, or arguments between management and a team. Teamwork coordinated right produces an effective outcome. No matter how good any individual might be, they need to rely on other members of their team to be effective. Learn to appreciate those other team members for a cohesive unit. Learn how to properly deal with conflicts and disagreements in a healthy and constructive way so there’s opportunity for individual growth and strengthening of workplace relationships.
Security personnel are trained to notice different details that apply to their job. If personnel are looking for public activity they may notice trash, cigarette butts, and empty bottles in atypical places where public access is either frequent or seldom. Security is looking for a patron who is acting in a manner that is out of the ordinary such as erratic, nervous, sweating profusely, consistently watching personnel or authority rather than going about their business, or repeatedly returning to the same location. They are also looking for changes in the property such as open or moved gates, unlocked doors or windows, new vehicles, and unattended packages or bags.
Taking ownership of a task to ensure it is done to the highest standard with full completion. Anyone can complete a patrol, but taking pride in a person’s work allows him/her to go beyond the completion of the task and complete a proper patrol. A true security professional walks patrol with responsibility for all that occurs and the attention to detail throughout every shift.
Life throws us lemons! When everything is going according to plan and the environment is controlled, it is easy to apply any skill. Add in stress, poor conditions, difficult situations, or sensitive matters, and then the ability to apply the skills greatly diminishes. The ability to manage and process any situation and operate in a professional manner is developed in training and real life.
Soft skills can be defining characteristics of any security professional. They are the foundation to build a great security professional and hard skills, such as CPR or specialized training, are additions that create a well-rounded individual. Keeping an open mind on new people, experiences and thinking from another person’s perspective from a place of humility is important to developing soft skills.
In this industry reputation is what you live by and it’s not the tough guy or the hard skills that make a person dependable, humble and genuine. Soft skills separate the true professionals from the masses.
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