25 Soft Skills You Need to Be Successful in Life

There’s a saying that goes, “hard skills get you hired, but soft skills get you fired.”

Essentially, what this means is that you may be fantastic at crunching numbers or developing software (both hard skills) but if you’re difficult to work with and not a team player, (a soft skill) you probably won’t be around for long.

Employers want more than just a warm body who has the necessary requirements and education to do the job. They also need an employee whom they can count on and whom they genuinely want to work with.

It’s easy to pad your resume with soft skills that sound good on paper, but you need to embrace these attributes in the workplace to have longevity in a career. More often than not, soft skills apply not just to jobs but social relationships as well.

These are the soft skills you need to be successful not only in your career but also in life.

1. Open-Mindedness

Imagine a world where people weren’t open to new ideas. There would be no free speech, and innovation would be near nonexistent. Nobody says you have to agree with every idea, but people want to be around those who will at least listen to a different perspective or new way of doing something.

2. Giving and Receiving Feedback

Some people have no problem voicing out their opinion but don’t take constructive criticism well. Others are the total opposite. It’s important to learn how to both give and receive feedback to foster positive growth for you and the people you work with.

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3. Perceptiveness

To “perceive” is to see, and social perceptiveness is the ability to discern what somebody is feeling through their body language, words, and emotions. While it might take some practice, learning to be more perceptive can be helpful in an infinite number of situations.

4. Communication

Whether it’s written or verbal, knowing how to effectively communicate your ideas is pretty important in life. If others can’t understand your needs and wants, then this becomes a real problem. Like so many things, you can learn to be a better, and developing this soft skill should be on everyone’s to-do list.

5. Networking

This is one of those buzz words that’s a staple in the business world, but it really boils down to meeting people. Humans are social animals, and networking leads to friendships, marriages, and new jobs. So, get out there and network: 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding

6. Enthusiasm

Remember that kid in school who complained about every little thing? They weren’t a blast to be around, were they? People want to be around those who have a positive attitude about life and their work.

7. Patience

Even in today’s fast-paced, 5G world, patience is a key soft skill to possess. People learn at different paces and whether you’re the student or the teacher, having patience will go a long way towards accomplishing a goal.

8. Empathy

Having empathy means you can recognize and understand the feelings of other people. It’s the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their perspective and where they’re coming from. From personal relationships to running a Fortune 500 company, empathy is a soft skill everyone should strive for.

9. Active Listening

If you’re not a good active listener, empathy will be difficult. Active listening is paying attention when another person is speaking, without distraction, and asking deeper questions to better understand their point of view. It’s a great skill to have and will come in handy for everything—from job interviews to social relationships.

10. Collaborative Spirit: AKA Teamwork

Lots of people prefer to work solo and there’s nothing wrong with that. But knowing how to work with others to solve a problem or accomplish a goal is important for so many different aspects of life, work, and society. This is potentially one of the most important skills here in this soft skills list.

11. Conflict Resolution

From the moment we start school, it becomes apparent that not everybody is going to agree with us and disagreements will arise. Learning how to manage and find a resolution to conflicts that involve yourself or are between other people is key to building strong relationships and teams.

12. Friendliness

You may not be the most outgoing person, but don’t be a mean jerk. Nobody likes a mean jerk.

13. Self-Confidence

Employers want an employee who is confident in themselves and is willing to step-up when the time is needed. Having a little doubt at times is completely normal, but possessing a healthy self-confidence will go a long way in both social and business relationships.

14. Punctuality

Some people seem to always be running late. Sure, life is busy, but it’s busy for everyone. When you lack punctuality, you’re telling others that your time is more valuable than theirs. Do this enough, and your boss may soon tell you to not bother showing up at all.

15. Self-Awareness

This is one soft skill you might not see employers flat out ask for, but make no mistake, they’d love for you to have it. Self-awareness means that you’re aware of your outward behavior and how it does or doesn’t align with your internal values. It’s estimated that only around 15% of people are truly self-aware, but you can work on developing this soft skill.

16. Problem-Solving

Problem-solvers get things done! They invent life-saving technologies, unite warring nations, and figure out how to make better-tasting peanut butter. Learning how to take a step back, see the problem, and work towards a solution is a skill that has helped mankind survive for thousands of years. This makes it an essential part of this soft skills list.

17. Creative Thinking

This skill goes hand-in-hand with problem-solving and some problems are simply more complex than others and require more creativity. From brainstorming to keeping a journal, there’s a host of ways to develop your creative thinking muscle.

18. Perseverance

Like the song says, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Those who meet an obstacle but don’t give up and work to find a way over or around it will be rewarded in life, time and time again.

19. Stress Management

Stress is a part of life and it always has been. Unlike our ancestors, though, we now have apps on our phones to help with stress. Whether it’s exercise, meditation, or blasting heavy metal music, finding a healthy way to handle stress will help to make you more productive and successful.

Check out these .

20. Consideration

You’re pretty important, but you’re not the only one who matters. How considerate of others you are is a soft skill that can make or break any kind of relationship—business and social.

21. Emotional Intelligence

This soft skill is really an umbrella term as it encompasses some of the other skills on our list. Employers may not ask separately for each of those soft skills and might choose to simply say that they value employees who possess “emotional intelligence.” In short, it covers everything from empathy and self-awareness to social awareness and conflict resolution.

Learn more about emotional intelligence:

22. Delegation

Knowing how to delegate and give direction is an important soft skill to develop, whether you’re managing an intern or leading a multimillion-dollar company. Choosing the right person for the right task comes with a certain degree of responsibility, but there’s so much more to it than that. One must learn how to motivate, give clear direction, and provide the right feedback.

23. Integrity

Your grade school teacher may have touched on this by stressing the importance of being honest. Truthfulness is a huge part of integrity, but it also encompasses doing the right thing and showing a strong moral character by treating others the way that you want to be treated.

24. Courtesy

Being courteous, or simply having good manners seems to be one of those soft skills that is completely lacking through much of social media. That said, being polite and respectful of others will always stand out in the workplace and will take you far in life.

25. Self-Control

The last one in this soft skills list is self-control. There’s a good chance you’ve probably known somebody who is always taking things a little too far and getting themselves in trouble. Don’t be that person!

Having the ability to manage one’s emotions and behavior is paramount in all areas of life, from holding down a job to maintaining a marriage to staying out of jail! There are certainly ways to work on improving self-control, and this is one soft skill that is essential to building upon success.

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Bottom Line

These soft skills are transferable to so many aspects of your life and career. So, take the time to assess how well you embrace them and then actively work on improving upon the areas where you’re a little weaker.

You might be surprised at how quickly you see positive results.

More Soft Skills That Can Help You Succeed

When it comes to being effective vs efficient, there are a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.

Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency to save time and energy in the long term. Just because a company or employee has one, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.

Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity, while a lack of it will lead to a lack of positive results.

Before we discuss the various nuances between the word effective and efficient and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.

Effective vs Efficient

Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, the word “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”

A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.

Now, if you incorrectly set a timer for the light, and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.

The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.

Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective or efficient, or, in rare instances, they can be both.

When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.

Effectiveness in Success and Productivity

Being effective vs efficient is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation, and they employ “method A” and successfully completed the job, they’ve been effective at achieving the task.

The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.

If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed, the value in the service wasn’t up to par.

When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:

  • Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
  • What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
  • Does the cost balance out with the benefit?

Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent a method, tool, or resource meets the above criteria and achieve the desired effect. If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks, then productivity will likely suffer.

Efficiency in Success and Productivity

Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and (perhaps most importantly) time, all factor into the equation.

When it comes to being effective vs efficient, efficiency can be measured in numerous ways. In general, the business that uses fewer materials or that is able to save time is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition. This is assuming that they’re also effective, of course.

Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle.

The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal. However, the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and closed deals.

If less than 10 percent of those calls generate a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach.

Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.

The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance, where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but it’s incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.

Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity

Being effective vs efficient works best if both are pulled together for the best results.

If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal, and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective. This may put them at risk of going under.

It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first, and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.

Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.

Businesses and employees often succumb to inefficiency because they don’t look for a better way, or they lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.

Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.

By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics and checking them once changes have been made, a company will have a much better idea of the results they’re generating.

It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.

Bottom Line

Understanding the differences between being effective vs efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:

  • Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
  • Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
  • Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.

And just like that, effective and efficient productivity is maximized.

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