Essential Skills – They’re Anything but “Soft”

New labor market times bring to the fore different highly valued employee skills. As the job market is constantly evolving and changing, a university degree is no longer enough.  When you work in a team or in senior management positions, essential skills – sometimes called “soft skills” or “people skills” – are far more important than a degree.

So let’s look at the key fine skills and their value in the workplace:

Emotional Intelligence (EI) or Emotional Quotient (EQ)

This is the ability to work with your emotions and the emotions of others and to perceive social interactions with your surroundings. Emotional intelligence has always been essential for long-term teamwork in the office.  These days, it is also absolutely necessary while working from home, where you still communicate with the team but by different, more distant means. Large companies like Google or Facebook also look for emotional intelligence in every employee from managers to programmers. It is important that the team works as a whole and that everyone listens to each other.


In many ways, teamwork is closely related to emotional intelligence. It is the ability to coordinate a set of tasks, deadlines and deadlines that you solve within your team of colleagues. Today, your work is mostly part of the puzzle of a larger project, and it must transition smoothly. To do this, everyone who works on the project needs to know what others are doing and when — for example, they may need to have a part of the project ready for a colleague by a certain date so that part of the team can continue the work.

Teamwork is needed even if you work for yourself as a freelancer. You rarely create an entire project yourself for someone who outsources. It is far more common that more people work on the project and the tasks follow each other. That is why it is necessary to be able to communicate everything clearly so that nothing is delayed and everything is clear to others.


Communication follows on from teamwork. Especially while working from home office or in an online environment, it is necessary to set clear rules of communication.  In the office, people may share ideas through quick in-person talks in the hallway.  Now, much more of our daily communication will be delivered through online text.  To accomplish this, businesses often use some form of corporate messenger such as SLACK, WHATSAPP or SKYPE. It often happens that people have a problem separating work from private life, because people write to you when it suits them, which might be while you are eating dinner or going to bed.  If colleagues live and work in different time zones, this can be additionally frustrating.

The ideal setting should clearly let others know when you will be available on your corporate messenger, as well as when and how they can contact you in case of urgent need.  (You may also find that you must define what an “urgent need” really is.)

Openness to feedback 

An absolutely key skill in today’s world is the art of distinguishing criticism from feedback. The fact that someone alerts you to a certain imperfection or suggests an adjustment or improvement of what you are doing is really not a criticism. In reality, a colleague’s proposal may be very constructive and have real merit.

When you receive this kind of feedback, it is necessary to step back, put your feelings aside, and consider the idea like an outsider.  This kind of impartial reflection can really help you see the positive points of your colleague’s suggestion, while also seeing the value of your original idea.  If you cannot adopt this kind of “thick skin,” you may find that people are reluctant to communicate with you in the future.  This can leave you out of the loop and, worse, leave you open to making mistakes that could cost the company.

Problem Solving

Nobody likes the word “problem.” Nevertheless, problems occur all around us and we have to solve them countless times a day, not only at work but also in our personal lives. The ability to confront a problem and come up with an effective solution that makes sense is a key skill that no one can live without.

Sweeping problems under the rug, or pretending they don’t exist, will always catch up with you sooner or later at work. If you are not sure how to solve the problem, one strategy is a specific brainstorming: First identify the true problem, then list any and all possible solutions as they enter your mind.  When you have exhausted all of your ideas, then look back at each one and consider the potential costs, results, and requirements of each solution in your notebook.. Calmly go through these options either alone or with a loved one or colleague.

Ability to Decide – Decisiveness

Today’s busy lifestyle certainly does not favor hesitant people. When you listen to interviews with young successful entrepreneurs, who have often achieved worldwide success with their projects or applications, they all reiterate the importance of timing.  In fact, the timing of the project is frequently more important than the project itself. 

If you are hesitant about the release — launching the project into the world and you are afraid that it is not 100% ready yet, or you are constantly fine-tuning the details, it may happen that someone comes in earlier and beats you to the punch.  Or you may discover that the market has moved  elsewhere and your project is no longer needed.

It may seem strange to some people, but today it is better to go to the market with a skin (I’m not sure what this means.  Is this a business expression?)  and test a raw, unpolished project on the market. If you are interested in it, you will learn from users and clients what needs to be improved and you can continue working towards your ideal product.  Think of this as group-sourcing: you aren’t launching a product as much as simply asking for feedback. 

The same is true if you work for someone else. No one wants to wait for your answer whether solution A or B is better for two weeks or a month.  By the time you have sent your carefully measured reply, they have already moved on without you.


You will use your bargaining power especially in business negotiations. Top salespeople are experts in this skill. However, the ability to negotiate is increasingly shifting to corporate culture and everyday life.

Another way to think of it is  the ability to defend one’s opinion. Recognize that this skill will be useful not only at work, but also at home and in life.  

Conflict Resolution

Conflicts between people have existed since the beginning of human history. The largest ones led to wars and riots, but smaller conflicts emerge in everyday relationships. The ability to resolve conflict  is an art that saves lives in the world, in family relationships, and in jobs.

Conflicts are unavoidable. Often, a conflict arises from any misunderstanding of the other party, communication noise, or an incorrectly chosen wording. Especially in work where there is a larger team, someone may interpret the message differently than was intended. This distorted information is then passed on to other people and a problem arises.

In the event of this kind of situation, it is necessary to act immediately and involve all those affected by the conflict. If these people are in favor of the solution and do not try to sabotage it, the original idea can be communicated relatively easily and quickly without major complications.

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