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20 Practical Soft Skills Everyone Should Learn

20 Practical Soft Skills Everyone Should Learn
Every office, every building, everywhere you go, you see people who are just difficult to get on with. They can be obnoxious, rude, inconsiderate, or just plain clumsy. They may even be brilliant at what they do, but you just know that when it comes to socializing and interacting with people. They are terrible at it and you usually avoid these people whenever possible. Emotional intelligence, social graces, friendliness are just some of the things these people lack.
These things are known as “soft skills” and we all need them, otherwise we could end up as social outcasts or as ‘that weird guy’ who nobody wants to deal with.
To better improve your “soft skills”, here are 20 tips you can follow:
  1. How to remember people’s names, faces, or places. If you can remember at least one of these, you’re heading in the right direction.
  2. Opening successive doors for people. (It takes finesse if you’re doing it for multiple and consecutive sets of doors — and you have multiple people.)
  3. Keeping in contact with your relationships. A great way to hone your soft skills and maintain relationships.
  4. Learn to be a better listener. Don’t interrupt people, don’t try to control the conversation, and show genuine interest in what people are saying.
  5. Offer people something to drink and eat when they enter your home.
  6. Learn how to make fast healthy snacks for your visitors.
  7. The Elevator Rule. Let others out first. This also applies to “non-elevator” situations as well, such as on buses, boats, and trains.
  8. Practice writing emails to be short, respectful, and to the point. No one wants to read an essay in email format.
  9. Being discreet when giving tips to relevant service professionals. No one should see the money. This takes some finesse.
  10. Cell phone manners. No one wants to hear your conversation in public transport. It’s supposed to be a private conversation, not a public broadcast.
  11. Handwriting letters to people adds a personal touch. You can meet almost anyone with enough persistent handwritten letters.
  12. Take interest in the passions of others. This might mean feigning interest initially, but it’s likely that feigned interest will eventually transform itself into a genuine feeling.
  13. Taking pride in your appearance helps to make you feel good — and improves how people perceive you.
  14. If someone walks into a conversation, bring them up to speed or give them an idea of what you’re talking about…as well as a short intro. For example: “Kevin this is Frank, my friend from school. We were just talking about this new smartphone app.”
  15. Keep a mental note of people’s extroversion/introversion tendencies. It prepares you for their reaction to the events or situations around them and builds up your empathy.
  16. Make introductions. (Most people are awful at this and many more forget to ever do this… probably because they can’t remember people’s names.)
  17. Stay positive. Don’t whine and complain. It gives people a negative impression about your outlook on life and makes people think you are ‘grumpy’.
  18. Don’t babble. You know people who just won’t shut up. You usually avoid them because you want to engage in a conversation, not be talked at. Don’t be like them.
  19. Tolerance and patience. You will meet people who seem to have no redeeming qualities. Showing tolerance is a great way to accept people for who they are.
  20. Don’t argue. This doesn’t mean you should be a “yes man”, or act dumb. It means you should try to see things from their perspective or situation, even if you don’t agree. You maybe able to empathize with them.

Learning good social skills can make you more approachable, and people will see you in a better, more positive light. It will enhance your social aptitude and the more you practice it, the more you will improve in your sociability. It will help in your personal and work life.

Featured photo credit: Business portrait of tree presons – young man and two women having nice chat talk on modern office corridor via Shutterstock

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Hoi Wan

Hoi is a mobilist who blogs about technology trends and productivity.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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