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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

13 Essential People Skills to Succeed in Your Career

13 Essential People Skills to Succeed in Your Career

Possessing strong people skills is an incredible asset in your career. They are actually a great resource in all areas of your life. There are many people skills that can help you succeed in your career.

People skills are the various tools we all use to interact and communicate effectively with other people in our lives. You may have heard the term “soft skills“. People skills fall into this category. These are things you can’t measure like how well you score on an excel test. People with strong people skills are able to socialize well and relate to others. They are also known as social skills, interpersonal skills, and emotional intelligence to some degree.

In this article, we will take a look at 13 of the most essential people skills that will help you boost your career. Take a look at your current arsenal of people skills and see what you can do to up your game. The level of success you achieve in your career depends on it.

1. Strong Communication Skills

This one is near and dear to my heart. I am a huge fan and proponent of how strong communication skills can help you at work and in all relationships. Being able to communicate clearly in both a written and spoken manner helps people understand you much better.

When you are able to articulate your points, it’s going to help you in all facets of your career. Make sure you are a strong communicator in both a verbal and a written format. If you think about how many interactions you have with people at work, it’s easy to see how strong communication skills will help your career.

2. Showing Empathy

The ability to show empathy is a very good people skill to have as well. When you show empathy, you have the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. You can see another person’s point of view and that is a great people skill to have. It helps you see other points of view and not get locked into your own way of thinking all the time.

It’s easy to take a tunnel vision approach when trying to get your point of view across to someone. When other people see that you empathize with them, they feel understood. Feeling understood leads to a mutual feeling of trust. And creating trusting work partnerships is absolutely critical in succeeding in business.

3. Being Adaptable and Flexible

You know that saying that the only constant is change? I don’t know about you but, I’ve found this to be true in just about every phase of my life. And it is certainly true about work.

Things change all the time. Another of the 13 essential people skills to succeed in your career is the ability to be adaptable and flexible.

When I am wrapping up my day at work, the last thing I always do is make my to do list for the next day. Many times, I get a large chuck of my to do list done the next day. But sometimes, something urgent comes up at work and I can’t get anything done on my list. This is how we have to be adaptable and flexible in order to succeed.

Things come up, things change. Have the ability to change with them. This makes you someone who can roll with the punches and continue to be productive despite changing priorities.

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4. The Power of Influence

In a job description, you might see something like “having the ability to influence key decision makers”. This is not a piece of fluff to help fill out the job description. It’s an essential people skill that will help you in your career.

The ability to impact and influence people is a key competency frequently identified in top performers. The ability to impact and influence is often the number one competency in service, sales, managerial, and leadership roles. It’s really all about having the skill to persuade and convince others to support an idea, concept, or initiative.

In my current role, I am the Director of Recruiting. Although I am less than 6 months into my position, I am being relied on for my expertise in a variety of areas. The reason being, and one of the main reasons I got the role, was the ability to influence people to a new way of thinking and doing things.

I have knowledge in certain areas and the ability to communicate effectively with business leaders in such a way as to show them that a new way of doing things will yield better results than the previous way did. It’s the ability to influence.

5. A Great Sense of Humor

It’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t like to laugh. You know that nice feeling of a lightened load after a good laugh? The general sense of feeling more at ease and relaxed?

Having a great sense of humor and the ability to make others laugh will gain you friends and colleagues alike at work. Someone who can make others laugh has the ability to diffuse tension and put others at ease. They are able to direct an emotionally charged conversation at work towards a more open communicating style between all parties.

People with a good sense of humor can put others at ease and tend to get more airtime at meetings and have their points of view heard more often.

6. Assertiveness

Some people equate assertiveness with aggressiveness.

Being assertive in the workplace is about standing up for yourself. For speaking out and sharing your opinions in meetings. It’s about telling your manager that you are fine with putting in extra work when it’s needed but you feel working 60 hour weeks every week for months on end is not what you signed up for.

If you see a project getting ready to fire up and you feel like you could add value, tell your manager or whoever is leading the project.

When you see something isn’t going right and you could help out, then by all means, speak up. It’s about ensuring that you get the opportunities that others get. Being assertive about your career is a good way to earn respect as well.

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Take a look at this guide on How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way.

7. Active Listening

Many people forget that half of communication is listening. If you don’t practice active listening in the workplace, you are only hearing half the conversation, your own.

Active listening is the ability to be fully present when someone is talking to you. To show them with your body language that you are hearing what they are saying and are absorbing the information.

Tuning out distractions and placing your full attention on the speaker is the best way to practice active listening. When you are an active listener, you absorb information better and perhaps more importantly, show the other person that you really care about what they are saying and their point of view.

I’ve mentioned this before but, it bears repeating. When people feel understood, it creates a strong emotional bond. Everyone wants to feel understood. Through active listening, you are showing others that you care about understanding them.

8. Being Supportive and Motivational

Another critical people skill to help you succeed in your career is being supportive and motivational. This doesn’t just apply to being a boss, it’s easy to be supportive to others on your team or in your entire workplace.

I work with a group of 4 other talent acquisition professionals. We are all very supportive of each other. We have frequent quick meetings to check on each other’s workload.

If someone is carrying a far heavier load than the others, we offer to help out in any way we can. When someone has strong success, we celebrate it and motivate each other to succeed.

By being supportive and motivational, you help create a strong sense of team in the workplace and this is huge in your career.

9. Problem Solving Skills

This is also known as creative thinking or resourcefulness. Problem solving skills can be a huge benefit in your career. Think of the person that has to ask for help solving every little problem that comes across their desk. Compare this to the person that other people see as the go to person when they can’t figure things out. Who would you rather be?

Sometimes, the answers aren’t there and we go to others for help and that’s fine. When you do that, learn from it; so you don’t have to keep asking the same question over and over.

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Problem solving skills is also great because when unique obstacles or challenges come up, you are able to look at things in a different ways.

Sometimes, new challenges need new solutions. Be the person that can find new solutions with your awesome problem solving skills. Solving challenges takes pressure off your boss and colleagues which makes it a great people skill to have.

10. Leadership

Having leadership skills doesn’t necessarily mean leading a team or being a manager. Having strong leaderships skills also means you are able to lead others with your knowledge.

If you are a manager, lead by example. You want people to care about their work then you’d better as well.  You want people to be at work by a certain time then you should be as well. Show your team that you care about and support their success. This is a good hallmark of having strong leadership skills.

If you aren’t a manager of people, you can still have leadership skills with your knowledge. You can be the go to person in your area of expertise. People can see you as a leader in your expertise at work and you can be seen as a leader in your specialization outside of work as well. It’s having the ability to share your knowledge with others and the desire to help them succeed and advance their career.

Learn these 10 Management Skills to Become a Strong Leader.

11. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others. In other words, it’s being able to know how you are feeling and managing them in the context of when and where there are happening. It’s also being able to do the same with others around you.

Here’s an example that has happened to me on more than one occasion. An email comes in and I read it. As I read more and more, I get more and more angry until I feel like steam is coming out of my ears. When I am smarter and manage my angry emotions, I will walk away from the email and not respond until I calm down. I have done this. I’ve also immediately responded with a fiery email back. And that goes about as well as you’d imagine.

I’m sure you can also think of a situation where a fellow colleague was upset about something and you knew it. How you handle interacting with that colleague that is upset goes a long way toward showing how emotionally intelligent you are. You can see why this is an essential people skill to succeed in your career.

12. Being a Team Player

Being a team player will be incredibly helpful as a way to help propel your career. Team players are sought out by others. People in positions of leadership always want team players as part of their group. Why? Because they tend to be more productive and are great at helping the whole team succeed.

There’s nothing wrong with being an individual contributor but, you should also be able to get along with other people you interact with. It’s being the person that others know they can get in touch in a pinch. Or someone that will help out when the chips are down.

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When others view you as a team player, they see you as reliable and someone they want to work with. That’s high on the list of 13 essential people skills to succeed in your career.

13. Negotiation Skills

Possessing good negotiation skills is very good for your career. A lot of people tend to think of negotiation skills in the context of hard core, wheeling and dealing with the money hungry businessmen. That’s the image but not the reality.

Examples of negotiation skills in your business life and career happen all the time if you make use of them. Let’s say you get a job offer and you ask for more money. They say no. A good negotiator will ask for an additional week of paid time off or the ability to work from home once a week. Anyone who interacts with vendors on a regular basis like I do knows it’s important to get the best value whenever possible. This makes you look better to your employer.

I recently landed a really great recruit. My negotiation skills closed the gap between what the employer wanted to pay and the compensation the candidate wanted. In the end, we all came to a great agreement that worked for everyone.

Strong negotiation skills are a good people skill to possess. You can take a look at these 12 Tactics to Negotiate Better and Not Be a Pushover.

The Bottom Line

It’s easy to see why these people skills will help you succeed in your career. It’s not common for someone to excel in all 13 essential people skills but it is possible and does happen.

When you see someone who is doing well in their career and is being noticed in the corporate setting, chances are they possess many of these people skills.

I invite you to take a look at how developed your people skills are. If you see some areas where they could be better, take the time to work on improving them. Your career will thank you.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Mat Apodaca

On a mission to share about how communication in the workplace and personal relationships plays a large role in your happiness

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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