Why Are People Skills So Important for Your Career?

There’s a lot of conversation around people skills these days. Considering how much the modern working world has changed, it’s more important than ever to know not only how to build relationships at work, but how to work successfully with people across a range of platforms and locations.


Think about all the companies operating on an international scale. Your job may require you to communicate with people in different countries, so it’s important to consider the way you come across, not just the things you’re saying. Language is important, and it’s easy for intention to get lost in translation.


Let’s take a closer look at which people skills are important and how you can hone those skills to advance in your career.


1. Self-Awareness


We are often deaf to our own biases and limitations, which is why it’s important to stop and reflect on how we may be coming across to other people. Everybody is shaped by different influences—culture, family, social experiences—and being aware of your tendencies may help you be more considerate.


If your goal is to move into a management position, self-awareness is absolutely vital. According to a study conducted by Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, leaders who are aware of their weaknesses are better able to hire team members who have complementary strengths. By recognizing their own shortcomings, they can build a more balanced and effective team.


2. Empathy


Once you’ve got the self-awareness down, the next step is learning to be aware of others. And we mean really aware. Understanding how other people experience things will help you be more tactful and thoughtful, shaping the way you work with them.


Empathy is an important part of both external and internal communications as. If you work in sales, you need to learn to understand the customer’s opinion. For someone working in marketing, you can practice putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. And the more you try to understand your colleagues, the easier it will be to work together.


Empathy at work
Learn to have empathy at work 


3. Adaptability


Though we spend years studying and building skills for a particular job, it’s never really an exact science. Things happen, and we have to change our plans accordingly. Take, for example, the world of non-profit. When working for a charity, you’re dealing with a variety of external and political factors that can impact the way people engage with your cause. That means you could spend months planning a campaign, then have to change it because it clashes with a new political policy or something that’s been trending in the news.


An effective employee is one who is quick on their feet. The more flexible you are when it comes to obstacles, the more impressive your work will be. And let’s face it, the people who thrive under pressure are the ones that move up the management ladder faster than the rest.




4. Listening


More often than not, we hear but we don’t listen. Being able to truly listen is a rare ability, one that builds trust and relationships in your business. Show that you have an honest and genuine interest in what other people are saying. Ask follow-up questions. Provide feedback. The more you engage, the better your workplace relationships will be.


We’re often so stuck in our own ideas that it’s hard for us to stop and truly hear what others are saying. But once you figure out how to shake out of that habit, you’ll be better equipped to understand the needs of your business and your co-workers.


Try to listen and not just hear! 


5. Trust


If you want to build trust, first you need to practice respect. We spend 35+ hours each week working with the same people and if they feel disrespected they won’t give us 100%. Show them you value their ideas, that you trust their opinion and their expertise.


It can be hard to let go of control, but we’re all trying to achieve the same goals. So, the more you trust your colleagues, the more effective your projects and campaigns will be.


The good news? Most of these skills are inherent—they’re part of who we are, we just have to figure out how to apply them in a professional context. And the more you nurture them, the easier it will be to use them in everyday tasks and responsibilities.


Remember, they’re just as good for you as they are for your organization. And being a kinder, more respectful employee will take you far in your career. So, what’s holding you back?


This content was provided by CharityJob, the largest and most specialized job board for the charity and not-for-profit sector in the UK.



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