Just because you’re no longer in school doesn’t mean you’ve got it all figured out.
You’ve still got plenty of important skills left to master — but now you’re on your own.
Here are the life skills every young professional should master:
1. How to just be honest
When you’re late to an appointment, it’s tempting to pin the blame on gridlock or train delays.
Instead, says Quora user Michael Hoffman, “just apologise. You don’t have to give details. ‘I planned poorly’ is a hundred times better than risking your integrity by inanely blaming traffic.”
2. How to receive criticism
No one likes to be told they’re wrong or even that they could be doing something more effectively. As Abhinav Gupta writes, it’s easy to resent the person critiquing you, or completely ignore them.
Nonetheless, Gupta says, “in order to succeed in life you should always accept criticism and always respond positively to it and never think ill of people who point out your mistakes.”
3. How to start an interesting conversation
“Conversation-making is probably the most underrated skill,” says Deepak Mehta, who admits that he’s a shy person who’s always found it difficult.
But experience has taught him that if you dare to strike up a discussion with the person next to you, you might very well end up with a new friend, a business connection, or some novel insights on an old topic.
4. How to ask for something you want
“The ability to ask is the easiest, most underutilized skill to catapult your career,” writes an anonymous user.
But if you don’t muster up the courage to request a raise, a promotion, or a bigger sales deal, you have no chance of getting it.
If the thought of requesting what you want makes you anxious, the user suggests practicing in non-work-related contexts. For example, you could ask a vendor at a farmer’s market for a lower price on your vegetables.
“The more you put yourself in uncomfortable situations,” the user writes, “the more likely you’ll decide they’re not that uncomfortable after all.”
5. How to keep your promises
Maybe you told a friend you’d show up to his birthday party, or maybe you agreed to finish an extra assignment for your boss. Whatever the situation, you should make good on your word.
“Break [your promise] and people lose trust and faith in you, which, over time, is very hard to mend,” Hoffman says.
6. How to communicate effectively
No matter your career field, you can always improve the way you speak and write.
“Think about ways to challenge yourself and tweak how you write an email or behave in a meeting,” the anonymous user suggests.
Here’s an example: “During your next team meeting, resist talking about your idea or opinion right off the bat. Instead, count to five, and if you still feel like you have something relevant to contribute, speak up. On the flip side, if you’re shy, challenge yourself to say what you’re thinking, instead of remaining silent.”
7. How to be resilient
The rest of your life is bound to include setbacks, sadness, and frustration (in addition to joy and excitement!). Carolyn Cho says you should use your early adulthood to figure out how to recover from mishaps:
Your twenties [are] a time when most are relatively free of the responsibilities that will increase into your thirties and forties. This is a great time to experiment, fail, and bounce back. Learn how to ride out failure and persevere.
Life is full of challenges. The twenties are a great time to toughen up and start teaching yourself how to be emotionally and mentally resilient enough to weather both the joys and hardships to come.
8. How to demonstrate good table manners
“A lot of interviews take place over meals,” writes Drew Pavilonis.
“Chewing loudly, or eating with your mouth open, licking fingers and utensils (yes, I’ve seen it), elbows on the table, just shows a lack of manners and social skills.”
9. How to manage your anger
Syed Muswair Abbas Rizvi argues that you can channel your rage and frustration in positive directions instead of lashing out at the people around you. (For example, research suggests that anger can stimulate creativity, at least temporarily.)
“Your anger can empower you to do the unthinkable and unimaginable things, if you just learn the art to master and manage your anger.”
10. How to live within your means
Cho advises young adults to think carefully about all their expenditures:
“Luxuries are a wonderful thing only if you can truly afford them. Don’t be a slave to funding a lifestyle that will not last. Learn to live modestly and save up, and then you will have earned the right to purchase yourself some treats, in moderation.”
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