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10 people skills you need to succeed in your career

By Jana Angeles

If you're someone at the start of their career or an individual leading a team and delegating tasks at hand, you'd recognise almost automatically the importance of people skills. Without them, there would be no structure and processes in place on how we approach projects and it can eventually have challenges crop up that involve miscommunication or lack of teamwork for all parties involved.

While it's important to hold all the relevant qualifications in your area of expertise, people skills come at the forefront when it comes to the success of your career. Being able to embody the elements of leadership, teamwork and collaboration can help boost your employment prospects, as it provides you with networking opportunities you didn't know you had access to. 

It's likely that in your role, you may have to work with internal and external stakeholders to ensure that the projects you're responsible for eventually come into fruition. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we've had to quickly adapt to changing the way we work but even then, people skills have helped us stay connected online and maintain professional relationships while still remaining productive outside of the office space.

What are people skills?

People skills are important to have in both your work and personal life. They are the tools you need to be able to communicate and interact effectively with other individuals. By having people skills, you're able to relate to others more easily, can read behavioural cues and can effectively socialise and establish connections in both your personal and professional life. 

You also have a natural ability to exude confidence in presenting yourself in others, can communicate your ideas clearly and may have a strong positive influence towards individuals.

How can people skills help you with your career? 

According to The Muse, having excellent interpersonal skills can help you with your career. By simply having the ability to work well with other people can help bring a lot of abundance in your professional life. Establishing and maintaining professional connections can also help you open up potential job opportunities that can help you build a strong reputation in the industry you're in.

Depending on your profession, you could be dealing with multiple clients, coworkers, customers or important contacts that pushes you to influence change by communicating your great ideas effectively and be of a helpful nature to others.

Want to know what people skills you need to find career success? SkillsTalk explore the top ten people skills that can help you with your career.

1. Listening skills.

Listening is an important skill to have in any workplace. By being able to listen to other people's perspectives and ideas, it could help re-shape focus on tasks and projects that may be brewing in the pipeline. Not only that but being an effective listener means also hearing the concerns of others and letting their voices be heard.

If you're a manager or someone in a leadership role, you're most likely faced with people in your team who confide in you when it comes to issues that crop up amongst the workplace. With that, you approach listening with great tact and empathy to the person speaking about their situation. 

2. Communication skills.

Having strong communication skills is key in any profession, even if you're someone that naturally prefers to work alone. You may be sending out email communications to your customers, liaising with upper management or negotiating a solid deal with a potential client. 

Communication comes in all forms but generally, having excellent written and verbal skills allows you to be able to share information clearly to all the people you do get in touch with. By being a strong communicator, you're also likely to find networking with new people comes easy to you. 

3. Self-confidence.

colleagues enjoying each others company

Imposter syndrome can get in the way of your self-confidence, so it's important to keep yourself in check when it comes to your milestones within your professional life. Having confidence in your own abilities is reflected upon the output of your work and this can greatly affect the people who you work around with on a daily basis. 

By having confidence in your work, you create a high positive energy that may help motivate others to do the same when approaching tasks at hand. This also means you have the ability to encourage others to pursue their career strengths if you're in a position where you manage others. 

4. Ability to relate to others. 

John C. Maxwell writes, "Being relatable as a leader doesn’t mean being everyone’s best friend. It doesn’t mean saying or doing things that effectively bribe others into liking you. Being relatable means being yourself; living an authentic, consistent life with the people you lead."

Being relatable doesn't just apply to leadership but it can apply to those starting their careers or individuals working their way up the career ladder. Finding ways to relate to others has to come naturally so there's no point forcing yourself to be liked by other people. 

Coming across as "human" is a good start in showing others how you can relate to them. This could mean sharing the challenges you went through to find career success and inspiring others to not give up when times get tough. 

5. Accountability.

Nobody is perfect at their jobs and if you make a mistake, it's in your best interest to understand how it happened in the first place. Showing accountability is what can help you with your career growth because it gives you the push to find ways where to improve on how you do things to prevent further mistakes from happening. 

Accountability in the workplace means owning your work and recognising that mistakes do happen but there's always room for improvement. It also means you taking the appropriate steps necessary to move forward with your projects and achieving milestones you hadn't thought were possible. 

6. Positive attitude.

young colleagues high fiving

Did you know that happy employees have higher productivity levels when it comes to their work? Having a positive attitude doesn't necessarily have to mean being annoyingly happy but showing passion in what you do is a great start. There comes a point in time where you need to set healthy boundaries for yourself to truly flourish in your work. 

By doing that, you avoid overwhelming yourself with work that feels menial and embrace tasks where you feel like you're creating impact and worthy for the business.

7. Honesty. 

There is no room for deception in the workplace and if there is, you're likely in an environment that's toxic and not beneficial for your professional growth. Whether you're leading a team or having a one-on-one meeting with your superior, it's important that what information you communicate directly with them is of honest nature. 

Being transparent fosters trust in your professional connections and let's people know that you can be trusted in matters where the need to be discreet is necessary. As a leader, you may be put in scenarios where you are told information in confidence because this person knows that you're someone that can be trusted due to your honest and upfront nature. 

8. Strong work ethic.

Having a strong work ethic isn't working 10+ hours a day without taking any break. It's being able to meet timely deadlines while also having quality output when it comes to the work that you do. Your work ethic is more important than you think when it comes to your professional life. It's simply not about who can work the most hours but it's also knowing how you can be productive with your time and creating positive change in your role. 

Of course, establishing healthy boundaries at work can also mean boosting your productivity levels, making sure that the responsibilities you undertake are in line with your professional values. 

9. Ability to handle stress.

It's normal to feel stressed at work, especially when your workload seems to ramp up a notch from time-to-time. How you handle it though speaks of volumes if you know how to keep your emotions in check and do your best to remain level-headed despite the fires you have to put out for work. Stress can be a good thing because it can help us work towards greatness when we put our minds to something. 

10. Proactiveness.

One of the benefits of being proactive is planning ahead of time, which is key in any sort of profession you step into. An important soft skill is having the ability to solve problems efficiently and within an appropriate time frame too. Having proactiveness as a people skill is a strength in itself because it shows that you're organised and can anticipate future problems that can be mitigated when you make certain contingencies. 

Proactiveness also means being able to feel confident in your decision-making and welcoming change as an opportunity to implement new processes and practices that produce better outcomes for the future. 

Improve your people skills with an online management course

If you're interested in further improving your people skills, studying an online course in leadership and management is a great start. Upskilled has a variety of courses in management that can help you delegate responsibilities accordingly or further improve the way you manage a team if you're already in an existing management position. 

Whether you fit the leader or manager persona, an online management course with Upskilled can provide you with the flexibility of working to a schedule that suits you which can help you balance your work and personal commitments. 

Get in touch by calling 1300 009 924 and enquire about a course today. 

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in September 2018. Content has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

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