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How to Be the Most Successful One at Work Even If You’re Not The Smartest

How to Be the Most Successful One at Work Even If You’re Not The Smartest

Working in harmony with other people can be quite challenging at times. Perhaps you find they rub you up the wrong way on a daily basis, seem argumentative, unwilling to compromise and generally difficult to get along with.

While the problem may lie with the other person or people, more often than not, it can be a good idea to look at ourselves and see if we can make any improvements in our interpersonal skills. Improving the way we interact with the people we work with can boost our career success.

We Always Talk about Interpersonal Skills, But What Exactly Are They?

Getting ahead in our career is important and interpersonal skills can be broken down into different areas and skill sets. By tackling these skill sets individually, you can create a well-rounded approach to dealing with others in order to get ahead. These areas include:

  • Communication Skills
  • Team Working Skills
  • Negotiation and Persuasion Skills
  • Conflict Resolution Skills

Communication Skills — Speaking Is Only a Way, Not the Only Way

Active Listening: This can be an overlooked skill when we are too focused on what we want to say and how we want to get it across. But active listening is a good way of securing respect, showing concern, understanding and interest.

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Ways in which you can demonstrate active listening[1] can be: paraphrasing to show understanding, asking open-ended questions, asking questions in order to clarify, eye contact, nodding while listening and expressing brief expressions such as “I see”, “sure”, or “I know” while the other person is talking.

Word Choice: The words you use[2] can be incredibly important and choosing them wisely can allow others to understand you much better and create less confusion.

It can be helpful to practice speaking to others, thinking about how you are conveying your message. Ask for feedback to see if you could have expressed your points more clearly in order to highlight areas in which you could improve.

Non-Verbal Communication: It’s not always about the words we speak. How we come across with our body language[3] can have a massive influence on how we are perceived by others. It can give you away if your body language doesn’t match what you are saying.

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Smiling, eye contact, posture, tone of voice, observing others’ reactions to your statements and leaning in to indicate interest are all ways in which you can convey positive communication. By being conscious of your non-verbal communication, you can come across more friendly, trustworthy and approachable.

Humour: Injecting a touch of humour can make you much more relatable and make people more comfortable in your presence. Reacting positively with laughter or seeing the lighter side of a conversation can allow the conversation to flow more easily. Make sure that you’re not inappropriate or offensive.

Team Working Skills — Make Yourself Pleasant to Work with

Flexibility: Understanding differences of opinion with others and making appropriate adjustments is a core skill to develop. Seeing different perspectives can expand your thinking and make others feel respected.

Responsibility: Take responsibility for your role in any team work. It can be easy to push responsibility onto others or blame others for how things progress negatively. Understanding your responsibility and role in a team effort before taking part is crucial to effective communication and positive progression.

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Stress Control: People react to stressful situations in different ways but learning to deal with stress in a contained way can help you when you face stress in the workplace. Consider mindfulness and meditation techniques that can be used when stressful situations crop up.

Ability To Receive Feedback: React positively to any feedback even if it’s negative. Adopt the mindset that it’s an opportunity to improve yourself rather than a reason to put yourself down.

Positivity: People are more likely to be drawn and react better to positive people. In other words, positivity attracts positivity and the same applies to negativity. This is why remaining cheerful and keeping a positive attitude not only helps with others but also with our self-confidence.

Negotiation And Persuasion Skills — Never Create Any Loser

Look For Win-Win Situations: When negotiating, focus on maintaining a good relationship. In other words, make sure you separate the people from the problem. Make sure you create a variety of options for both parties before deciding on the outcome. This way, you can limit disagreements and hostility.

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Compromise: Don’t head into anything with the intention of getting your way. Be ready to compromise and see other people’s perspectives. This way you are much more likely to be respected and have things go in your favour.

Assertion: Developing good assertion skills[4] means being able to stand up for yourself in a positive and calm way. Get your point across in a non-hostile way that doesn’t lead to others getting upset. Developing this skill will gain respect and will show that you’re not a pushover.

Conflict Resolution Skills — Spot Tensions Before They Turn into Conflicts

Empathy: It’s easy to get very caught up in climbing the career ladder thinking that we need to look out for number one. But being empathetic towards others is a key skill in gaining trust and respect among your colleagues. Understand the different perspective of others and don’t make assumptions or dismiss how they see things. It can help you see problems in a different way and allow you to apply this to many situations.

Social Awareness: Having a degree of sensitivity towards potential conflicts can allow you to identify and fix them before it’s too late. This can save you a lot of time and effort, streamlining the path to your ultimate career goal.

Taking into account each different area of communication can greatly improve your interpersonal skills, develop good working relationships and get you much further in your career. Building trust and respect with others should never be dismissed or considered unnecessary because hard work and the ability to get on with everyone in a variety of situations is the key to success.

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Jenny Marchal

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on October 18, 2018

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

Things go wrong when you run your own business.

Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

  • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
  • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
  • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

The Bottom Line

Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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