When it comes to employment, degrees, training, and experience matter. Still, not everything employees have to offer was learned behind a desk. There are soft skills and subtle personality traits that can enrich and transform any workplace — from a basement bike shop, to a billion-dollar investment firm. Though they’re tough to list on a resume, here are seven underrated skills that will help you no matter what your job.
It’s a fact we sometimes forget: The world of work is populated by humans. Sure, we all strive to appear cool and collected, but sometimes the veneer cracks. People who are able to listen, understand, and offer empathy bring real value to the workplace. These folks tend to be expert communicators (especially across cultural barriers). When managing people, they often develop a loyal following that improves teamwork and productivity. (See also: This One Skill Can Make You a Better Boss)
In our competitive culture, aggression is usually considered an indispensable business skill. But there’s something to be said for those of us who don’t live on hyper-drive. Patience gives us room to weigh options, consider outcomes, and develop strategies that are based on real information instead of reflex. For managers, patience helps build a healthy team atmosphere and nurture employee talent.
Eloquence is the art of expressing thoughts and ideas clearly. Beyond demonstrating intelligence and insight, it’s an essential part of tact and diplomacy. Knowing what to say and how to say it can help you navigate the choppy waters of office politics, avoid unnecessary conflict, and calm irate customers. (See also: 25 Ways to Communicate Better Today)
Why is curiosity so powerful? Because it’s only satisfied by acquiring more knowledge. Curiosity keeps us asking “Why?” and inspires us to look for smarter solutions to everyday problems. Curious employees are more inclined to take initiative, seek out additional training, and pursue professional development opportunities.
Creativity makes innovation possible. In every job, creative thinking can help you spot (and correct) inefficiencies, develop smarter (and cheaper) processes, and design new products and services that improve lives. That’s not just a soft-skill; it’s a hard asset that every employer is hungry for. (See also: Boost Your Creativity: 9 Surprising Ways to Generate New Ideas)
No matter what your career path, one thing is certain: The road won’t always be smooth. Companies reorganize, technologies change, and old industries are constantly disrupted. Embrace the chaos. Being adaptable helps you survive — and sometimes even thrive — in this new reality.
7. Good etiquette
In the nation that invented informality, good manners get noticed. Making proper introductions, practicing basic dining etiquette, ensuring that every email contains a salutation and a closing, and silencing electronic devices during meetings — these small overtures demonstrate a level of professional refinement that can win over new clients and advance your career.