man on his phone fixing his bowtie

Confidence or Narcissism: Why Ability Without Soft Skills Is a Disaster Waiting to Happen

The old saying, “Fake it until you make it!” is a great psychological tool to help people overcome their fears and insecurities, and come across more confidently when dealing with prospective business opportunities. However, there are some who have no fears and take this to mean they should come across strong, in control, extremely confident and as the guru (oh how I hate that word; it’s so over used by people who believe others really think anyone dumb enough to call themselves a guru is actually one) of (fill in the blank). If this is you, the question to ask is, are you chasing potential customers away with abrasiveness? Let’s take a look.

Your Branding

Branding is more than a logo, avatar and slogan. Those are just what people remember if you did your branding properly (read, Branding is More than Just a Logo and it Makes Google Love You). However, some people think if you impress someone with branding, it will draw them in.

For example, I connected with a young man on LinkedIn whom I believe was a developer. His avatar looked like the kind you see used in a comedy movie of the local businessman or politician, with a smug smile, looking down at the camera, with a HUGE thumbs up – it makes you want to grab your wallet. His description said something to the effect of guru at what he did.  It was comical, but I thought, “Whatever…”

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My first thought was, “Oh, another one of those who will make big promises, knows everything, will talk over you to correct everything you say so he can show you how blessed you are to be able to speak with him.” But, being a glutton for punishment, I proceeded to connect with him. It’s important to make a good impression starting with your profile photo. If you can’t enlist a professional photographer, try coordinating an informal photo session with a colleague or friend.

Your Messaging

Whenever I connect with someone on social media, I welcome them, offer to assist if I can (whether through an introduction, answering a question or providing access to resources that may be of help). In this message, I always provide a link to one of my articles, so they can:

  • Read something that will hopefully be of value, in the event they didn’t know the topic.
  • Showcase my expertise in a lowkey way.
  • Drive traffic to my website, so they can see (if they choose to delve deeper) what I can offer.

This has worked well for the last 7 years and has helped me build a social-media footprint of over 300K, with over 19K connections on LinkedIn. 

Below is the message I sent the young man to welcome him.

Hi *******,

I hope all is well! It’s great to be connected here. If I can be of assistance, please let me know.

Checkout my article, “Newsletter Vs. Blog: Which is Better?” If you find it helpful, sign up for my blog at

Have a wonderful and successful day!

Eddie Velez

His response made me question his business acumen. He replied:

“Is this what you went to business school to learn? How to use a newsletter and blog? I have more important things to do; I make things happen.”

I replied, “You obviously know it all and cannot learn anything new. Good luck.”

I disconnected from him and moved on. 

My second thought, after sharing this with my business partner was, “How shortsighted of him. What kind of business learning did he receive that he doesn’t understand ability without soft skills (communication, people skills, mannerisms and how to act with one’s public) is detrimental to business success?” My partner suggested I write an article and share this with all of you. 

Lack of Soft Skills is Business Kryptonite

We live in a different time and, unfortunately, soft skills are no longer taught to the younger generation. Finding Millennials who can represent a business well (as we would say in the Marine Corps, “Telling someone to go to hell and have them look forward to the trip”) is not an easy thing. 

There was a time when ensuring a child knew how to behave like a gentleman and lady were paramount. These included things like:

  • Table etiquette
  • How to greet someone with a firm handshake, while looking him or her in the eye.
  • Being gracious and letting others speak highly of you.
  • Complimenting your guest or prospect.
  • If you don’t have anything good to say, saying nothing at all.
  • Dressing appropriately for the occasion.
  • Not embarrassing a guest.

I heard a story of a man who was new to high society (true story) and his fame earned him an invite to dine with Queen Elizabeth. Not knowing that after dinner, a bowl is placed with water before you so you may wash your fingers and thinking this was some high-society way to drink water after a meal, he picked up the bowl and took a sip. Everyone was surprised and looked at him, quietly. He wondered what was wrong and Queen Elizabeth, being a perfect lady, sensed the situation. So, she picked up her bowl and took a sip. Upon everyone seeing this, they did the same and the man didn’t know to be embarrassed. Years later, he was told by a friend what happened and he turned red, laughed and then shared the story on his radio show. The man is Rush Limbaugh.

It’s sad to think that today, someone with no soft skills would’ve laughed and said something like, “Silly, you’re supposed to wash your fingers, not drink from it!” Putting Rush on the spot. As Rush would say, “The measure of a person is how he or she treats someone who can do absolutely nothing for him or her.”

How Are You Engaging Your Audience?

So, with all this in mind, here are some questions to ponder:

  • How are YOU engaging your audience? 
  • How does your website, social-media profiles, business card, brochures, etc. represent and position you? 
  • When you connect with people online, how do you respond? 
  • What do you share? 
  • Do you share folly for impact’s sake or are conscientious of your audience?
  • If someone disagrees with you, do you act (think it through and remember the world is watching) or do you react (let your ego and emotions get the best of you)?

Remember that the pro and con of social media is that people see whether you care and reward you, or whether you’re a narcissist and reject you. No one likes someone willing to break his or her own arm to pat themselves on the back.

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