Technical skills and experience are important to climb the career ladder, but there’s an added dimension organisational leaders and hiring managers look for: soft skills. These include any skill that can be classified as a personality trait or habit: adaptability, the ability to work in a team, creativity, leadership and conflict resolution, to name a few. Your soft skills dictate your attitude and conduct. They don’t just affect your chances of getting new work opportunities; they also shape your well-being at work.

Take communication skills as an example. When working with a team on a project, you may find an idea or process ineffective, and may need to communicate it to the rest of the team. Finding a way to tactfully disagree with others without creating conflict is an important skill employers value. Another example is adaptability: how easily do you adapt to change? Today, changes in processes, environment, tools and clients’ expectations can happen quickly. People who are capable of adapting to new situations and ways of working are valuable assets.

You may also want to work on your soft skills to improve your energy and productivity levels at work, since you probably spend a lot of time there. Here are four key skills that will help:

Active learning with a growth mindset

Just as an equanimous mindset helps us function smoothly in the world, a growth mind-set helps us perceive work tensions as ‘challenges to overcome’. Seeking personal growth at work helps us find solutions to problems rather than getting demotivated by them. It’s about keeping an eye on the end game and constantly motivating ourselves to grow towards it.

Active learning at the workplace is also vital to the goal of growth. Learning and developing skills that will enable you to navigate challenges and changes in your environment better and help you stay updated and in-demand.

Being positive and supportive

To thrive at your workplace, it is important to create a supportive, cohesive and encouraging work environment. For a team to deliver the best outcomes, its members must share good interpersonal equations with each other.

A supportive environment is one that encourages gratitude, eradicates negativity, allows for flexible work hours, and that invests in team-building exercises. It affirms its commitment to excellence through open and honest communication, respect, compassion and empowerment. It also increases self-motivation, innovation and creative thinking.

According to a 2016 ‘Workplace Boredom report’ by TLNT, 80% of workers agree that having the opportunity to learn new skills at work would make them more interested and engaged in their job. Supporting and uplifting others can spur both, personal and organisational growth.

Creative and critical thinking

“To just do what you’re told” at work is not always the right way. As an employee, you should interrogate instructions and processes. Evaluate the information available, think critically and let your creative juices flow. This can help you improve processes, innovate in your field and spot pain points that others may have missed.

Using critical thinking for problem-solving is an effective way to learn and progress. Usually, when your manager presents you with a particular problem, you immediately start looking for solutions. Ideally, first take a step back and analyse the situation by researching and reviewing information. You may also want to interview the parties involved and come up with more than one solution for the stated problem. These are the tenets of problem-solving through critical and creative thinking.

Being appreciative of others and yourself

A common reason employees leave their jobs is that they do not feel appreciated. Don’t worry. Whether it’s your first day at work, or you’ve been around for a while, you’re not expected to be perfect. Instead, look at yourself as ‘work-in-progress’. Celebrate even small milestones or achievements with your team. Giving yourself a pat of appreciation (even if no one else does) from time to time will push you to do better in the future.

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  • Geeta Ramakrishnan

    Author and Ontological coach

    Geeta Ramakrishnan grew up in Mumbai, India. Her marriage brought her to Dubai. Keenly interested and intrigued by human behaviour, she focused on human capital management of the family business. Her curiosity and passion led her to attend an ontological coach training programme from Newfield Asia, Singapore. She offers coaching and also conducts workshops on her favourite subject 'Change’. Over the last 50 years, she has recognised key lessons on how to be happy, while holding her own in her family and in this world. She offers her experiences demonstrating the balancing act of nurturing success with happiness.