People skills board - a cork board with post it notes full of soft skills
Guest Blog

28 Skills to working smarter: a list of soft skills you need

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Guest Author
29 April 2014

After much of my career spent researching and writing about soft skills, I was able to whittle down the expansive list of soft skills into 28 individual soft skills – 10 self-management skills and 18 people skills – that I believe are the most important to your career success. No matter what work you do, you will find value, advancement, and fulfilment in developing these 28 soft skills.

Self-management skills

Address how you perceive yourself and others, manage your emotions, and react to adverse situations.   Only when you build an inner excellence can you have a strong mental and emotional foundation to succeed in your career. They are:

  1. Empowered mindset
  2. Self-awareness
  3. Emotion regulation
  4. Self-confidence
  5. Stress management
  6. Resilience
  7. Skills to forgive and forget
  8. Persistence and perseverance
  9. Patience
  10. Perceptiveness

People skills

Address how to best interact and work with others so you can build meaningful work relationships, influence others’ perception of you and your work, and motivate their actions.   I have split them into two sections – Conventional and Tribal.

Conventional People Skills

This list of people skills you can find in most job descriptions and you will be assessed on some or all of these in your performance reviews depending on your level:

  1. Communication skills
  2. Teamwork skills
  3. Interpersonal relationship skills
  4. Presentation skills
  5. Meeting management skills
  6. Facilitating skills
  7. Selling skills
  8. Management skills
  9. Leadership skills
  10. Mentoring / coaching skills

Tribal people skills

This is the list of people skills that you will not find in any job descriptions.  They are also essential to your career success.  I call it tribal because they are more “insider knowledge” that you gain from work experience or from mentors.  Some people can go through their entire career and not be aware of some of these skills. They are:

  1. Managing upwards
  2. Self-promotion skills
  3. Skills in dealing with difficult personalities
  4. Skills in dealing with difficult/unexpected situations
  5. Savvy in handling office politics
  6. Influence / persuasion skills
  7. Negotiation skills
  8. Networking skills

No doubt that this is a daunting list. To get a better understanding of these soft skills, go to my original post on this — it will go further in-depth as to defining each important trait.
Focus on developing and perfecting one at a time and you’ll find that you’ll be making progress against others. Much like learning one language (like French) will help you to understand other languages (Spanish and Italian).  It’s critical that you understand why each of these soft skills are important to your career success and then ask yourself – what soft skills do I already possess and which ones do you want to develop next?

Lei Han is a Stanford Engineer and Wharton MBA with over 15 years of business experience. She is passionate in helping professionals work smart and achieve success. Lei has written about soft skills development and career success since 2009. You can follow her on Twitter @bemycareercoach.

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