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Published on August 11, 2020

25 Soft Skills You Need to Be Successful in Life

25 Soft Skills You Need to Be Successful in Life

There’s a saying that goes, “hard skills get you hired, but soft skills get you fired.”

Essentially, what this means is that you may be fantastic at crunching numbers or developing software (both hard skills) but if you’re difficult to work with and not a team player, (a soft skill) you probably won’t be around for long.

Employers want more than just a warm body who has the necessary requirements and education to do the job. They also need an employee whom they can count on and whom they genuinely want to work with.

It’s easy to pad your resume with soft skills that sound good on paper, but you need to embrace these attributes in the workplace to have longevity in a career. More often than not, soft skills apply not just to jobs but social relationships as well.

These are the soft skills you need to be successful not only in your career but also in life.

1. Open-Mindedness

Imagine a world where people weren’t open to new ideas. There would be no free speech, and innovation would be near nonexistent. Nobody says you have to agree with every idea, but people want to be around those who will at least listen to a different perspective or new way of doing something.

2. Giving and Receiving Feedback

Some people have no problem voicing out their opinion but don’t take constructive criticism well. Others are the total opposite. It’s important to learn how to both give and receive feedback to foster positive growth for you and the people you work with.

Here’s Why You Need to Ask for Feedback…and How to Use It.

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3. Perceptiveness

To “perceive” is to see, and social perceptiveness is the ability to discern what somebody is feeling through their body language, words, and emotions. While it might take some practice, learning to be more perceptive can be helpful in an infinite number of situations.

4. Communication

Whether it’s written or verbal, knowing how to effectively communicate your ideas is pretty important in life. If others can’t understand your needs and wants, then this becomes a real problem. Like so many things, you can learn to be a better, and developing this soft skill should be on everyone’s to-do list.

5. Networking

This is one of those buzz words that’s a staple in the business world, but it really boils down to meeting people. Humans are social animals, and networking leads to friendships, marriages, and new jobs. So, get out there and network: 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding

6. Enthusiasm

Remember that kid in school who complained about every little thing? They weren’t a blast to be around, were they? People want to be around those who have a positive attitude about life and their work.

7. Patience

Even in today’s fast-paced, 5G world, patience is a key soft skill to possess. People learn at different paces and whether you’re the student or the teacher, having patience will go a long way towards accomplishing a goal.

8. Empathy

Having empathy means you can recognize and understand the feelings of other people. It’s the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their perspective and where they’re coming from. From personal relationships to running a Fortune 500 company, empathy is a soft skill everyone should strive for.

9. Active Listening

If you’re not a good active listener, empathy will be difficult. Active listening is paying attention when another person is speaking, without distraction, and asking deeper questions to better understand their point of view. It’s a great skill to have and will come in handy for everything—from job interviews to social relationships.

10. Collaborative Spirit: AKA Teamwork

Lots of people prefer to work solo and there’s nothing wrong with that. But knowing how to work with others to solve a problem or accomplish a goal is important for so many different aspects of life, work, and society. This is potentially one of the most important skills here in this soft skills list.

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11. Conflict Resolution

From the moment we start school, it becomes apparent that not everybody is going to agree with us and disagreements will arise. Learning how to manage and find a resolution to conflicts that involve yourself or are between other people is key to building strong relationships and teams.

12. Friendliness

You may not be the most outgoing person, but don’t be a mean jerk. Nobody likes a mean jerk.

13. Self-Confidence

Employers want an employee who is confident in themselves and is willing to step-up when the time is needed. Having a little doubt at times is completely normal, but possessing a healthy self-confidence will go a long way in both social and business relationships.

14. Punctuality

Some people seem to always be running late. Sure, life is busy, but it’s busy for everyone. When you lack punctuality, you’re telling others that your time is more valuable than theirs. Do this enough, and your boss may soon tell you to not bother showing up at all.

15. Self-Awareness

This is one soft skill you might not see employers flat out ask for, but make no mistake, they’d love for you to have it. Self-awareness means that you’re aware of your outward behavior and how it does or doesn’t align with your internal values. It’s estimated that only around 15% of people are truly self-aware, but you can work on developing this soft skill.

16. Problem-Solving

Problem-solvers get things done! They invent life-saving technologies, unite warring nations, and figure out how to make better-tasting peanut butter. Learning how to take a step back, see the problem, and work towards a solution is a skill that has helped mankind survive for thousands of years. This makes it an essential part of this soft skills list.

17. Creative Thinking

This skill goes hand-in-hand with problem-solving and some problems are simply more complex than others and require more creativity. From brainstorming to keeping a journal, there’s a host of ways to develop your creative thinking muscle.

18. Perseverance

Like the song says, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Those who meet an obstacle but don’t give up and work to find a way over or around it will be rewarded in life, time and time again.

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19. Stress Management

Stress is a part of life and it always has been. Unlike our ancestors, though, we now have apps on our phones to help with stress. Whether it’s exercise, meditation, or blasting heavy metal music, finding a healthy way to handle stress will help to make you more productive and successful.

Check out these 7 Stress Management Techniques to Get You Back on Track.

20. Consideration

You’re pretty important, but you’re not the only one who matters. How considerate of others you are is a soft skill that can make or break any kind of relationship—business and social.

21. Emotional Intelligence

This soft skill is really an umbrella term as it encompasses some of the other skills on our list. Employers may not ask separately for each of those soft skills and might choose to simply say that they value employees who possess “emotional intelligence.” In short, it covers everything from empathy and self-awareness to social awareness and conflict resolution.

Learn more about emotional intelligence: What Is Emotional Intelligence (And How to Develop It)

22. Delegation

Knowing how to delegate and give direction is an important soft skill to develop, whether you’re managing an intern or leading a multimillion-dollar company. Choosing the right person for the right task comes with a certain degree of responsibility, but there’s so much more to it than that. One must learn how to motivate, give clear direction, and provide the right feedback.

23. Integrity

Your grade school teacher may have touched on this by stressing the importance of being honest. Truthfulness is a huge part of integrity, but it also encompasses doing the right thing and showing a strong moral character by treating others the way that you want to be treated.

24. Courtesy

Being courteous, or simply having good manners seems to be one of those soft skills that is completely lacking through much of social media. That said, being polite and respectful of others will always stand out in the workplace and will take you far in life.

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25. Self-Control

The last one in this soft skills list is self-control. There’s a good chance you’ve probably known somebody who is always taking things a little too far and getting themselves in trouble. Don’t be that person!

Having the ability to manage one’s emotions and behavior is paramount in all areas of life, from holding down a job to maintaining a marriage to staying out of jail! There are certainly ways to work on improving self-control, and this is one soft skill that is essential to building upon success.

Here’s How to Have Self-Control and Be the Master of Your Life.

Bottom Line

These soft skills are transferable to so many aspects of your life and career. So, take the time to assess how well you embrace them and then actively work on improving upon the areas where you’re a little weaker.

You might be surprised at how quickly you see positive results.

More Soft Skills That Can Help You Succeed

Featured photo credit: You X Ventures via unsplash.com

More by this author

Jeremy Diamond

Jeremy Diamond is a lawyer and entrepreneur. He is the Senior Partner of Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, a national law firm based in Canada

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

The world of productivity has several hacks or tricks to help you manage your time: to-do lists, the Pomodoro Technique, Parkinson’s Law… All of these strategies are great strategies in their own way, but one strategy stands above all the others: the 80 20 rule.

This particular strategy has been used the most and is regarded as the most helpful in developing time management and other concepts in life.

But what’s so special about this rule? How does it give you success and how do you use it? Let’s explore the specifics.

What Is the 80 20 Rule?

Many people regard this rule as the 80 20 rule, but it has a proper name: the Pareto Principle[1]. The principle was named after its founder,  the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, in 1895. Pareto noticed that people in society were divided into two categories:

  • The “vital few,” which consisted of the top 20 percent with respect to money and influence.
  • The “trivial many,” otherwise known as the bottom 80 percent.

As he researched this further, he came to discover that this divide didn’t apply only to money and influence, but other areas, too. Virtually all economic activity was subject to his previous observation.

He observed that 80% of Italy’s wealth at the time was controlled by only 20% of the population.

Since the development of this rule, humankind has used this particular ratio in all kinds of situations. Even if the ratio isn’t always exact, we see this rule applied in many industries and in life. Examples are:

  • 20% of sales reps will generate 80% of your total sales.
  • 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits.
  • 80% of the revenue will stem from 20% of the workers.

Either way, I’m sure you can piece together why people call this rule the 80 20 rule over Pareto’s Principle[2].

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Make Your Life and Your Business More Efficient with the 80-20 Rule - Salesforce Canada Blog

    In terms of how this particular rule will be able to work for you, it’s a matter of applying this rule to how you spend your time. For us to see success, the goal is simple.

    We need to set it up in such a way that 20% of our input is responsible for 80% of our results.

    Another way to think about it is we use 20% of our time on activities that give us 80% of our results in a given area of life.

    How Does the 80 20 Rule Work?

    To best explain this, let’s visualize a bit.

    In an ideal world:

    • Every employee would contribute the same amount of effort to work.
    • Every feature that’s released for an app or product would be equally loved by users.
    • Each business idea you come up with would be a hit.

    In that scenario, planning would be a breeze. There wouldn’t be any need to analyze anything so long as you put in the effort.

    But that’s not reality.

    Yes, the effort is certainly an element, but what the 80 20 principle states is that everything is unequal. Invest in 10 start-up companies, and you’ll find only a few will pass year two and make it big. You’re in a team of five, and there’ll be one person doing more work than others.

    We wish our lives were always one-for-one in terms of input and output, but that’s simply not true. Understanding this is key to understanding how the 80 20 rule really works.

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    So how does it really work?

    It’s a matter of focusing on what’s giving you the most in your life for little of your time.

    Going back to the few examples I’ve presented above, consider this:

    • If two start-ups you invested in are making it big, focus on having a more direct hand, and see if you can help them prosper more.
    • If 20% of sales reps are giving you 80% of your sales, focus on rewarding those and keeping their spirits high and motivated.

    These scenarios can go on and on, but the idea is to place your efforts on the 20% that is actually making the difference in your life. Another term that’s good to know is the diminishing marginal utility[3].

    Pareto didn’t come up with this one, but the law goes as follows: each extra hour of effort or worker will add less “oomph” to your finished results.

    Eventually, you’ll hit a point where you will spend a lot of time on small and unimportant details, similar to perfectionism.

    So before hitting that point, you want to have a laser focus on the most important details, from family and relationships to your work or business. Prioritize the activities that are going to move you forward the most, and be wary of adding extra time, effort, or more hands into those particular tasks moving forward.

    How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule

    So now that you have an understanding of the 80 20 rule and how it works, what is the best way to take advantage of it?

    Depending on where you are applying this rule, this can be used in all kinds of fashions.

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    For example, you can apply this rule to goal setting, as demonstrated by Brian Tracy in this video:

    Or you can apply it in terms of general productivity as explained in this article: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

    The core of this rule is that it forces us to ask ourselves the questions we wouldn’t consider otherwise. It helps us to place our focus in the right places with regards to all things in life.

    In short, the 80 20 rule places us in charge of our lives and helps us set out on our goals and dreams. With this in mind, here are some things you can consider concerning this rule.

    1. Focus on Your Big Tasks First

    While this is the essence of the 80 20 rule, it’s still worth mentioning. Why? Because so many of us feel intimidated by the biggest task. We instinctively avoid it and opt for smaller tasks first.

    We think that if we complete enough small tasks that we will feel motivated to finish that really big one later. But that’s really false hope at work.

    Once we finish off a lot of small tasks, we either feel drained, or we tell ourselves we’ll do this the next day.

    Instead of doing all that, bite the bullet and tackle the largest task first.

    If you need help with prioritization, check out this article.

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    I argue this by challenging you to ask yourself this one question:

    “Is the task I’m about to do the top 20 percent of my activities or the bottom 80 percent?”

    I’m sure you’ve seen time and again you or other workers spending a lot of time on one task for most of the day. In those kinds of grinds, you’re barely getting ahead and have next to nothing to show for it. That’s because they’re putting all their attention on work that’s in the 80 percent.

    It’s normally the big tasks that are part of the 20 percent.

    Another way to think about this is that everything we do starts a habit. If every day we spend our energy on low-value tasks, we will always prioritize those.

    2. Stretch This Into Personal Life

    While I’ve been talking about business and setting goals, remember you can use this in other areas of your life, too.

    Take your personal life and ask yourself some of these questions:

    • How much TV do you watch on a regular basis? What sort of shows are you legitimately into? These questions can help you in recognizing what shows you are watching purely for consumption. By applying the 80 20 rule, you can cut back on Netflix, TV, or YouTube video consumption and prioritize other areas of your life.
    • What does your wardrobe look like in terms of colors? Are there specific colors that you like? Knowing what you wear most times will help you in sorting out your wardrobe significantly. It also saves you time to come up with what to wear every morning.
    • How many newsletters do you actually read? This question can help you in figuring out which newsletters to unsubscribe to and can clear up a lot of space in your inbox. It can also relieve pressure from having to check your emails constantly.
    • How much time do you spend on your phone every day? How much of that time is actually doing something meaningful? These questions can help you in clearing out various apps that aren’t helping you with your goals. In fact, this can curb the need to check your phone constantly.

    Final Thoughts

    The 80 20 rule is the productivity hack that many of us need, and for good reason. As you can tell, it’ll help you to focus and prioritize the more important aspects of your life.

    Not only that, but it’ll maximize those outputs at the same time and ensure you’re not spending too much time working on them. All you need to do is start asking questions and taking action.

    More Techniques to Help You Succeed in Life

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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