If you are looking to develop new skills or wondering how to develop them, I have listed out the most important ones I have learnt over the last 20 years.
These soft skills can be applied to both work and personal, but all of them need the practice to master them.
Being able to be a public speaker is complex, challenging and requires a lot of practice.
Public speaking is an essential skill because there are many occasions in life where you will find yourself needing to speak up in front of either small or large groups of people.
One of the best quotes I have read is as follows:
“Practice, practice, PRACTICE in speaking before an audience will tend to remove all fear of audiences, just as practice in swimming will lead to confidence and facility in the water. You must learn to speak by speaking.”
― Dale Carnegie, The Art of Public Speaking
The best way I developed this skill is by practising, and I did this by joining a Toastmasters International club.
Toastmasters is an organisation that runs local clubs that allows people to speak in front of an audience.
During the two hour sessions, members are allowed to speak on both ad-hoc and pre-selected subjects.
The best thing about joining these clubs was the feedback you get from other Toastmasters. This feedback covered areas where you delivered well and where you needed to improve - helping you to develop at a quicker rate.
To manage your money, you need to understand how to budget, save and invest.
By mastering these skills, it will help you to build up wealth and to provide you with opportunities for the future.
The best way I developed these skills was to apply concepts of budgeting to my life. Majority of the ideas I learnt from the book I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi.
When I was saving for a deposit for a house, I created a simple budget to identify areas where I could increase income, e.g. ask for a pay rise or change jobs. In these areas, I could reduce the costs, e.g. reduce heating bills and finally where I could reduce my casual spending, e.g. stop going on holiday. I am sure this helped me save for a deposit quicker as well as making me more conscious of the money I spent.
Being able to network casually or in a work capacity helps create opportunities and build up relationships.
I struggled with networking in my twenties as it didn’t come naturally to me, causing me to keep within my circle of colleagues and friends. By my thirties, I decided to expand my network consciously. I did this in two ways.
The first method was to attend a networking course by Will Kintish.
The Will Kintish course provided me with the rules of engagement when meeting people.
Three things I picked up were:
- Remembering peoples names by repeating it back to them
- Asking open questions to engage with people
- Recalling one fact about them for the next time I meet them.
The second method was joining Meetup.com website. By joining Meetup, I was able to meet new people who had similar interests to me or work in the same industry. By placing myself in a situation where I have to talk to people, I was forced to engage with people and allowed me to practice the things I learnt from Will Kintish course.
Being able to apply new technology to your work will be an essential part of your job or career. I believe this will come in different routes, but programming will the primary way it will be applied.
One of the best languages to learn is Python as it is free to use, and the tutorials online make it simple to get started. I often start at the W3 Schools website.
I recommend creating a little project for yourself. A simple project could be reading a file and creating a new file with new data. Once you learn the basics concepts and structures, you should apply it to a process that you repeatedly do. By doing this, you get a better understanding of concepts and see it in action in real life.
Being able to negotiate is very important to build relationships and ensure you get the best value for a deal. The most critical negotiation is asking for a pay rise or agreeing on a salary of a new job.
The best way I have developed this is by reading Never Split The Difference by Chris Vos and applying its principles.
I have applied the following principles when negotiating a salary:
- Know your value. Research to find out what your market rate is.
- Ask for more than you want. By setting a higher salary, you help pull up the scale the other person is prepared to offer.
- List out the reasons for getting more. Sometimes the people you are negotiating with might not know the value that you add or could add to a company. By understanding your worth, you will get more.
These are the skills that I think are the most important and how I developed them.
By being able to practice my public speaking before an audience has helped me gain confidence for presentations and my wedding speech.
By developing core personal finance skills, I was able to save up for a deposit by understanding where the money comes in and where it is going out.
Being able to network has helped me build a network of contacts and long-lasting friendships.
Learning to program has helped me reduce mundane tasks and helped me free up for more creative ones.
Negotiation skills helped to increase my salary to afford to buy a house.
Whatever skills you want to learn the key will always be getting the opportunity to perfect it.