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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.

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

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.

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.

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