Answered by Steve, Hiring Expert at Caterpillar Inc., on Friday, July 29, 2016
No need to be embarrased. It is important to ask these types of questions because it can only help you as your career develops. When you hear the term soft skills, it is referring to those types of personal traits that are difficult to measure and can only be truly evaluated by someone who has worked directly with you for some time. These are things like your ability to effectively work within a team, how well you communicate, both verbally and written, how you interact with higher level leaders, do you speak up and participate in meetings, and your sense of urgency, etc. These are things that can only be demonstrated on the job and the only ones who truly know how well you do these things are those who have worked directly with you. Most importantly, these are the things that stick with you, fairly or unfairly. If you have a bad interaction with someone, that will be what they remember about you. They won't remember the actual work you produced. It is for this reason that your manager is emphasizing the importance of these soft skills.