I’m sure you’ve looked at some of your friends and thought: “How do they manage to be so happy all the time?” Perpetual happiness and consistent success appear to be the hallmarks of certain individuals. They get the best jobs. They are lucky in love. And they are always upbeat and smiling.
Perhaps you look on them with envy? It’s understandable. But as you’ll soon see, you can leave envy behind – and start to build your own happiness and success.
You Probably Weren’t Taught Soft Skills at School
Have you come across the term ‘soft skills’ before? Most likely not. To be honest, it’s something that is rarely taught in schools. However, to be truly happy and successful you need to develop a wide-range of soft skills.
If you’re wondering what soft skills are, then think about skills related to your attitude, disposition and personality. (How you choose to communicate with others, for example.)
Schools typically fail to develop our soft skills. For instance, you may know how to write a 1000-word essay on WW2, but do you know how to demonstrate your trustworthiness to a vulnerable, frightened person?
Why Soft Skills Are so Important
Soft skills can make a huge difference to your life. Without them, you’ll struggle to find work, partners and happiness. Soft skills really do matter.
To give you a concrete example, think about a time when you interviewed for a job – but were unsuccessful. You may have been turned down because you lacked experience or qualifications, but it’s also possible that you lost the job due to having inadequate soft skills.
Situations such as interviews, require a variety of soft skills from the interviewee. These include: being a good listener, emphasizing with the interviewer, and demonstrating a positive attitude.
To Be Happy and Successful, Develop These 50 Soft Skills
Happy and successful people are likely to have most (if not all) of the 50 soft skills listed below:
- The ability to listen. Through listening, you can learn from others. You’ll also gain more friends – as most people love to talk about themselves or their lives.
- Willingness to accept feedback. Whether good or bad, feedback is vital for your success. For example, by taking criticism on board, you may be able to make positive changes.
- Having a flexible approach. Flexibility is not taught in schools, but is required in all areas of life. Just think how many times you’ve had to adjust your plans to match a partner’s requirements?
- Assertive when needed. You may not be a naturally assertive person. However, you should definitely learn to be assertive when the situation requires it. For instance, if you need to ask a shopkeeper for a refund.
- Can focus on a task or problem. In today’s technology-drowned world, attention spans have dropped to all-time lows. Break out of this, and develop a powerful ability to focus on what needs doing. This will put you streets ahead of the average person.
- Understands the power of team working. Being able to work harmoniously in a team is a vital skill. Whether you work in a factory, office or shop, it’s inevitable that you’ll be part of a team. You must learn how to get on with others, and if you’re a team leader, you must also know how to motivate and inspire your team.
- Knows when to be competitive. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t class myself as a competitive person. However, I’ve learned that from time-to-time that being competitive is essential to success. In my case, I’ve had to regularly compete with other freelance writers for work. In your case, you may find yourself having to compete with colleagues to attain a higher position within your company.
- Confident in all situations. Successful people seem to ooze confidence. You’ll need to do the same if you want to match their success. If you lack confidence now, then try building it by completing small goals (which you can enlarge as your confidence grows).
- Understands how to resolve conflict. It’s sad to admit it, but conflict is everywhere. You probably argue with your partner, and fall-out with colleagues at work. For happiness’ sake, develop conflict resolution skills. This can be as simple as knowing when to walk away from a confrontation.
- Has a courteous and good-mannered personality. In my experience, many people are unaware of how they come across to others. For example, they may appear arrogant and aloof when they are simply trying to show self-confidence. To be courteous and good-mannered is to return to a relaxed, natural state. Put any pretensions aside, and let your inner charm shine for all to see.
- Enjoys providing great service. Whether dealing with customers or colleagues, be sure to put great service at the heart of all your interactions. By doing this, you’ll increase your chances of success, and also boost your personal happiness. Try it and see.
- Can deal with the stress of difficult circumstances. You’ve just lost a job that you’ve dedicated the last 10 years of your life to. Do you crumble from the shock – or do you quickly pick yourself up and look for opportunities? Sure, there are difficult circumstances to deal with in life. Nevertheless, always focus on the positive, and refuse to be dragged down by negative thoughts and emotions.
- Is quick at making decisions. I remember reading a self-help book that stated: “Winners make decisions quickly, losers make them slowly.” There’s definitely something to this. If you take days and weeks making decisions, you’ll often find yourself left behind by those who make decisions quickly. (And also act on these decisions quickly.)
- Is 100% trustworthy. Trust is vitally important in life. We’re bombarded daily by news stories of people being mugged, cheated and even killed. These relentless stories seep into our subconscious, and make us wary of everyone we come into contact with. To help counteract this, you must be 100% trustworthy at all times. By doing this, you’ll quickly gain the confidence of others, and soon develop a reputation for being honest and reliable.
- Has an eagerness to learn. Where would we be without learning? From our birth to adulthood, we constantly learned new things. However, as we aged further, many of us stopped learning. To stay young, happy and satisfied, re-ignite your enthusiasm for learning.
- Knows when to delegate tasks. Are you someone who likes to do everything yourself? If yes, you may find that you often run out of time and energy. If you have family members or colleagues whom you’re able to delegate tasks to, then use this option when needed. However, for this to work successfully, be sure to match delegated tasks to individuals with the relevant skills.
- Communicates clearly and effectively. Communication is at the heart of all personal and business interactions. It’s critical that you learn how to write and speak well. And of course, communication is not a one-way street. You must also be a good listener.
- Is fired-up with an abundance of energy. Have you noticed how famous celebrities seem to be super-energetic? They are lively, vivacious and charismatic. If you have low energy levels, you’re unlikely to be attracting success. Try boosting your energy through healthy eating, exercise and meditation.
- Has great interpersonal relationship skills. Happy people know how to interact harmoniously with others. They are comfortable communicating with people from all backgrounds and walks of life. They also know how to partake in constructive conversations and meetings. The best way to learn interpersonal skills, is to listen and watch others who are naturally great at this skill.
- When needed, can follow instructions. You may want to always do your own thing, but to be successful in life, sometimes you need to follow directions and instructions from others. For example, your manager may usually let you do your work in your own way, but occasionally, he may need to give you specific instructions on completing a task.
- When needed, can think ‘outside of the box’. I definitely don’t remember this skill being taught at my school. However, being able to think beyond a set of specific rules, regulations or limits can be a very valuable skill. It’s often the way that ‘game-changing’ ideas first come into play.
- Has a warm, approachable and friendly personality. Without a friendly personality, you’re unlikely to find many new friends, or exciting opportunities. As an example, if two people with the exact same skills and experience applied for a job, but one was friendly and the other was not, who do you think would get the job?
- Knows how to tell compelling stories. Stories are the lifeblood of society. You may recall the bedtime stories that your parents read to you when you were a child. From there, you most likely became addicted to reading novels and watching movies. Storytelling is global and timeless. Everyone loves stories. To succeed in life, learn how to be a great storyteller.
- Is endowed with a super-positive mental attitude. Negativity will get you nowhere. Life has so many ups and downs, that if you focus on the negative, you’ll quickly lose sight of what’s possible. Positive people constantly seek out opportunities. For sure, be realistic. But also carry a super-positive mental attitude with you at all times.
- Is highly-organized at all times. Do you class yourself as an organized person? If yes, do others also see you that way? Being highly-organized is not just desirable – it’s essential! Whether you want to climb the corporate ladder or write your first novel, being organized can make the difference between success and failure.
- Has persuasive powers. No, this isn’t some kind of superhero power! On the contrary, it’s an ability that many people have developed. Think of politicians and preachers. They have learned the art of communicating in a persuasive and convincing manner. Whatever your role in life, if you learn to communicate persuasively, you’ll likely go far.
- Is creative and innovative. Bill Gates, Michael Jackson and Elon Musk all excelled in their fields because they were creative and innovative. It allowed them to stand out from their competitors. You can do the same. Start by looking for ways to do things differently.
- Understands the power of non-verbal communications. If you’ve watched a nature program recently, you’ve likely seen how some animals communicate. For example, a wolf can control a cub just by using a specific look in its eyes. As for us humans… While we have the ability to speak, it’s estimated that 55% of our face-to-face communication sactually takes place through body language.1 In other words, our body language is the primary factor in the effectiveness of our communications with others.
- Has fantastic planning and goal-setting abilities. Without goals, we are simply drifting with the tide. If you desire success and achievement, then make sure that you have specific goals – and a plan to reach them. If you’ve never tried goal-setting before, start small, and build your way up to bigger and bigger goals.
- Thrives on problem solving. Take a look around. Problems are everywhere! Luckily, if you develop a strong problem solving capability, you’ll soon find yourself in demand. Many people run from problems. So, this leaves plenty of opportunities and work for those who thrive on finding solutions to problems.
- Knows how to make other people laugh. Can you imagine if humor didn’t exist? We’d be stuck in a dreary, lifeless world where everything was serious. I’m sure with your friends and family you have a great sense of humor. However, how about at work, or when you meet strangers? In these situations, perhaps you retreat into your shell. Break free, and add humor to all of your interactions (where appropriate). Your popularity will soar, and your personal happiness will climb too.
- Is always punctual. Think about how frustrating it is when buses or trains are running late. It often leads to people becoming stressed or angry. You should see your own timekeeping in a similar light. If you’re constantly late for meetings, people may not tell you, but they’re likely to be angry or fed up with you. Timekeeping is about respect for others. So, please be punctual!
- Is a master at reading body language. As we’ve seen in point 28, body language counts for approximately 55% of all face-to-face communications. Of course, that percentage is just an average. An expert body language reader will be able to take even more information from someone – just by observing their body language. It’s a very useful skill to have, as sometimes body language contradicts what someone is saying with words.
- Loves researching. You don’t have to be a scientist to benefit from research. It may be something as simple as researching the best laptop to buy. Successful people typically love researching. But it’s not just random research. They’re driven to research by a want to reach a certain goal or aim.
- Values and respects others. This is a soft skill that unfortunately, seems to be going out of fashion at present. Too many people have become self-centered, and put their desires above the needs of other people. Please don’t fall into this trap. Instead, make sure you value and respect all those you come into contact with. Interestingly, by respecting others, you’ll find they respect you more in return.
- Knows how to ‘stay on task’. “Wait, I just need to check my Facebook page….” You know how it goes. You start doing something, but within minutes, you get distracted by other people or breaking news, etc. I’ll be honest with you, it’s very easy to be distracted and lose focus on the task at hand. One thing that might help, though: turn off your cell phone, to avoid being interrupted by calls or messages.
- Keeps up-to-date with trends. Stagnant people aren’t interested in keeping up with the latest trends. They’ve given up on life, and no longer care what the world may have to offer. Don’t be like these people. Instead, have a keen eye on trends in the workplace, technology and health, etc. You’ll be a more interesting person to talk to, and you’ll also be able to make better decisions about your future.
- Expertly manages their time. Time management is more than just arriving to work early. It’s about knowing how to prioritize tasks, when to take breaks, and being able to plan projects. Time management is a hugely important skill that you should definitely learn (if you haven’t already). It can make your life easier and more productive.
- Adapts quickly and easily to change. Heraclitus famously said: “The only thing that is constant is change.” Wise words. And in my experience, 100% accurate. Life is constantly evolving and changing, and if we pretend otherwise, we will find ourselves relentlessly unprepared. Happy and successful people know that life is forever changing. They’ve learned how to adapt quickly and easily to most changes that they encounter. You should do the same.
- Has learned the art of troubleshooting. The Cambridge Dictionary describes troubleshooting as follows: “Discovering why something does not work effectively and making suggestions about how to improve it.” Well said! This is a skill that you may need to work on. Firstly, you must find the motivation to really want to improve something. Once you have that, delve deep into the issue, and seek solutions.
- Understands the importance of being well-groomed. Imagine a lawyer turning up to court in a pair of faded blue jeans and a ripped T-Shirt. It’s likely the judge would have the lawyer removed from the courtroom! It’s an improbable scenario, but hopefully, it drives home the point that you must be appropriately dressed. Jeans and T-shirt are probably okay if you’re working for a Silicon Valley startup, but if you’re interviewing for a position at a local accountancy firm – you may want to stick to wearing a suit and tie.
- Strives for the ideal work-life balance. Happiness is not dependent on money. In fact, those who become obsessed with earning money, are often far from happy. As with most things in this world, balance is the key. Sure, you want to work hard and earn money. But just ensure that you leave enough time (and energy) to enjoy the rewards.
- Sees the best in others. If you’re honest with yourself, do you have this trait? Most of us don’t. However, it’s a fantastic skill to have. Seeing the best in others means that you can help them develop to the best of their potential. It also means that you can quickly build rapport and trust with other people.
- Knows the value of multi-tasking. If you work in an office environment, then you’re sure to recognize this scenario: You’re typing away at your computer, then your desk phone rings. You answer, but as you’re speaking to the caller, someone comes up to your desk and asks you a question. Situations like this can be overwhelming and frustrating. However, as they will always occur from time-to-time, you need to build a strategy of dealing with them. Multi-tasking can be taught, and I’d highly recommend that you learn to do it.
- Leads through example. Great leaders teach through example. They’re also willing to do any task that they may ask others to do. You can adopt this approach too. For example, instead of asking your team to work in a specific way, let them see how efficiently you work, and they’ll naturally want to copy that.
- Continually seeks to improve. The Japanese call this kaizen – the strategy of seeking continuous improvement. This could be about a business process, or the way an athlete prepares for a race. Whatever the circumstance, there’s almost certainly room to improve some part of the process. If you develop a mindset of constantly looking for ways to improve things, you’ll rapidly find yourself climbing the ladder of success.
- Is always persistent. Perseverance is another word for this. To reach the heights of success, you’ll definitely need to demonstrate this trait. Consider for a moment, that you’re attempting to start your first business. From an initial spark of inspiration, you’ll have hundreds of steps to complete before your business can be in operation. Any of these steps could be problematic, and without persistence your business may fail even before it gets through the starting gates.
- Can be patient when needed. Things don’t always go to plan, and delays can often creep into projects. Experienced professionals are well aware of this, and have developed patience to see themselves through these delays. You should do the same. Instead of getting frustrated and angry with delays, let patience work its magic. You’ll develop poise and calmness. And you can also use any downtime to work on other goals or projects.
- Keeps their emotions in check. In life, it’s normal to express emotions in certain circumstances (the death of a loved one, for example). However, if you’ve set your heart on success, then you’ll need to keep your emotions in check when you’re in ‘professional mode’. For instance, let’s say that your manager has just told you off for coming in a few minutes late to work. Your instinct might be to become angry, and argue with them. While this might make you feel good, it’s highly unlikely to help your chances of being promoted at work!
- Has a highly-developed sense of intuition. Many top business leaders admit to making some of their decisions based on ‘gut feeling’. In other words, they’ve developed their intuitive side to the point where they’re willing to trust its promptings. You can do the same. Tapping into your intuition can be boosted by: letting your subconscious work on a decision while you sleep, practicing meditation, or going for a walk in the park. These techniques allow your intuition to come to the surface. (Usually its hidden behind your constant mental chatter.)
As you can see, soft skills are an essential part of happiness and success. Develop the ones you already have, and adopt the ones you’re missing. Do this, and watch your happiness and success climb to new heights.