10 People Skills You Need for a Successful Career


Last Updated: July 1, 2022
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“Your career success in the workplace of today – independent of technical expertise – depends on the quality of your people skills.”

– Max Messmer Jr., Managing Your Career for Dummies

It’s interesting how we invest so much time and effort preparing ourselves for a successful career. We spend years pursuing specialisations to hone our technical expertise. However, in this pursuit of excellence, we usually tend to forget what lies at the core of a successful future – people skills.

What are People Skills?

People skills are the ability to relate and communicate with people. It is a set of techniques that help you interact effectively with other people. People skills can be used in many different situations, whether it is at work or at home.

A person who has good people skills will have an easy time communicating with others, especially when they are having difficulty expressing themselves. They will also be able to understand what others need and want from them without being too pushy or aggressive about it.

Contrary to popular opinion, the concept of people skills isn’t just a figment of 21st-century imagination. It has existed since the time humans needed to interact with other humans, especially for business. It became a lot less important when humans were cogs in the giant wheels of industries before machines began replacing them.

However, in today’s times, jobs and roles that require minimal human interaction are all but obsolete. We’re fast moving towards a world where people are the most valuable resources. Working with people is fast becoming the only way to work. Amidst all this, we have only recently become self-aware about how these skills can be of great help, especially professionally.

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Why Do I Need People Skills?

You’re probably thinking – ugh, who wants to deal with people? If you’re looking to be even fairly successful in your dream career, you will eventually want to. Right now, it may seem like you’d rather not, but the reality is that this is an indispensable part of working life. No matter which industry you work in, your job will require you to deal with people. Your success will depend greatly on your ability to understand them, convince them and win them over. If you learn to master these skills fairly in advance, you will gradually begin to enjoy them.

people working

Here’s the best part – these skills won’t just help you get job-ready. They can also help you make the most of your college experience. Additionally, these skills aren’t something you can learn overnight. They need time and effort, and what better time to start than now?

When freshly graduated students venture into the real world, they realise just how unprepared they are for their career. Education, as you may have experienced, does not always guarantee the overall development of an individual. There’s a massive disconnect between what is taught and what skills are required in the workplace, which also greatly affects employability. How do you go about inculcating these skills, while also ensuring you have an advantage over countless others vying for similar goals?

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10 People Skills You Should Know About

1. Communication Skills

Communication is the exchange of information between people. The communication process involves both verbal and non-verbal messages. It is the ability to express yourself effectively, listen and understand others and interact with people. Communication skills are developed through practice, learning and experience to achieve effective results in different situations.

2. Listening Skills

Time management is the act of planning your time and activities in order to get things done. It can be as simple as keeping a daily schedule. You might decide that you need to set aside certain hours for working on specific projects. The key is that if you plan out your time properly, you will always know what needs to be done and when. This makes it easier for people who are helping out with tasks because they know exactly what has been requested and how long it should take.

3. Leadership Skills

Leadership skills are the qualities, abilities and traits that make a leader.  A leader is someone who can inspire others to do things they would not normally do. A good leader must be able to motivate, inspire and encourage people in order for them to achieve their goals. These skills can be learned and developed through training and experience or they can be innate in some people.

4. Teamwork Skills

Teamwork is the ability to work together with other people towards a common goal. Teamwork skills are important in any job or career and are especially important in leadership positions. If you think about it, how many times have you had to work with others on a team? How many times did your boss ask for your input and ideas? There’s no doubt that teamwork is an essential skill for success in life.

5. Flexibility Skills

Flexibility skills are the ability to change your body and mind in order to adapt, adjust or overcome difficulties. It is a set of mental abilities that enables you to deal with stress and emotions effectively. 
Flexibility refers to the ability to adjust our work schedule or workplace in order to accommodate changing needs, priorities and situations. Flexible people are able to think outside of the box, they can make adjustments easily and they are not afraid of change. They have an open mind which makes them good at problem-solving.

6. Problem Solving Skills

Problem-solving skills are the ability to identify, analyze and solve problems. It involves the ability to think logically, reason, communicate effectively and make decisions in order to achieve goals. It also helps you in finding solutions by weighing options; determining actions or choices; monitoring progress; evaluating results and adjusting plans accordingly.

7. Creative thinking skills

Creative thinking involves being able to solve problems in a creative way. It is about finding different ways of solving a problem or coming up with an idea that has not been thought of before. This can be done by using your imagination, taking risks, and making connections between different ideas. It also involves making connections between different ideas and concepts based on what you have experienced.

8. Patience

Patience is a skill that can be learned and improved. It is the ability to wait for something, or someone, without getting frustrated or angry. Patience helps you to understand the other person’s point of view and help them see things from your perspective. This is an essential skill because it helps build relationships between you and your team members which will lead to productivity improvement as well as a better working environment for everyone involved.

9. Empathy

Empathy is a sense of understanding or being able to put yourself in another person’s shoes. It is the ability to feel what someone else feels and understand their emotions. Empathy can be achieved through reading books, listening to music, watching movies, talking with friends and family members about how they are feeling or looking at pictures of other people who are experiencing similar situations. Being empathetic allows you to better understand others and help them as well as yourself.

10. Networking Skills

Networking is a skill that is required in every organization. It has become a necessity for all organizations to have good a network and the best way to learn networking skills is by joining an online training program. There are many online training programs available for Networking skills. Attend workshops and meetings, mingle with as many people as you can and share your vision with them.

How Do I Get There?

Many of these skills come with age and experience. However, you can definitely begin by learning to be great at a few of the basic ones.

hang on to every word

1. Hang On To Every Word

If you notice carefully, you will see how most people listen only so that they can construct their own responses. Very few people actively listen to what the opposite person is trying to say. This is extremely important; it helps you understand things in entirety. More importantly, it makes people feel valued.

2. Amp Up the Interest

Be genuinely interested in knowing others. Ask questions that will encourage them to open up to you. Listen to them when they share something. Learn to be fully present in conversations with people. You will be surprised to know just how effective this can be.

3. It’s All in the Feels

social group

Having empathy is understanding or feeling what someone else is experiencing, especially in the exact context of their experience. Learn to be mindful of someone’s situation and understand what they are going through.

4. Don’t Hesitate; Just Do It

Being proactive is an important part of building great rapport with people. Be that person who is always looking to help people solve problems. People will automatically begin valuing your presence and contribution, and maybe even look forward to them.

5. Constant Vigilance!

Whenever you are in a new environment or with people you don’t know, try to read the vibe of the room you are in and act accordingly. That will help you say and do just the right things. If not, you could end up creating extremely embarrassing or uncomfortable situations.

Let’s be honest – there are no tricks or shortcuts to developing these skills. You need to consciously practice them in different situations and see how well they work for you. You could put them into practice in college, at your internship, or any other practical situation you can think of. It might force you to step out of your comfort zone. However, once you begin to see how helpful it can really be in dealing with the world, it will go a long way in preparing you for your dream job.

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