I admit – I’m always thinking of my next career move. Whether it’s a project I want to work on, a raise I plan to negotiate, or a company I want to join – my professional persona is always on my mind, and so is the question of what skills I should be mastering. Employers will never list the below skills on a formal job description, but if you’re looking for an easy way to impress a future employer (or your current boss), here are 4 important, underrated skills that can help you succeed at work.
Nobody wants to realize that despite talking for an hour, nobody has actually listened to a word they’ve said. Work on preventing miscommunication before it happens through active listening. Unfamiliar with the term? Basically, active listening requires the listener to continuously confirm what the speaker has said. This means paraphrasing, asking follow-up questions, and physically acknowledging that you are listening (including maintaining good posture, nodding, and keeping eye contact).
Active listening sounds deceptively simple, but it requires a lot of energy and attention to get right. Don’t be afraid to work on this skill outside of work – your squad will appreciate your newfound attention to their crazy weekend stories!
What’s more awkward – always waiting 10 minutes for somebody to show up to a meeting, or always being the person who is 10 minutes late? Regardless of which you choose, punctuality is more than just arriving to work on time. Consistently running behind is an easy way to tick off your co-workers, bosses, and employees – if you don’t respect everyone else’s time, how will anyone respect yours?
To help improve your timeliness, don’t be afraid to invest in a nice desk calendar or to use your iCal religiously. The sooner you develop this habit, the better your performance at work.
Understanding that certain issues have a time and a place is important – especially if you’re in a position of authority. You need your co-workers to know that you respect and trust them, so whenever you are dealing with a sensitive subject, act with tact and take the time to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Yes, being the boss means that you have to command respect, but you’ll build a more cohesive team (and, frankly, people will like working with you more) if you act with empathy.
This doesn’t mean that you need to overly emote at work, but by understanding that each person is in their own unique situation – and by being open to learning more about how you can best help them – you’ll become a better team player and communicator.
You don’t have to pretend to be overly enthusiastic or someone you’re not, but maintaining a positive outlook will take you far at work. Not only will peers be drawn into your positive attitude, but you have the potential to improve morale throughout your entire workplace – which can be a pretty big deal. If you’re dealing with a problem, deal with it privately and confidentially. You’ll seem more professional as a result, and it will definitely pay off in the long run.