Six Critical Skills that You and Your Children Need to Survive the 21st Century

These six critical skills are sometimes referred to “soft skills”. In my opinion there is nothing soft about them. They are critical to survive in the workforce, they are difficult to learn and without them you will have a very difficult time finding and keeping successful employment. When you go to the Internet and look up “soft skills”you can find an comprehensive list of different skills by different authors. They may include: communication skills, teamwork and collaboration skills, problem solving, critical observation, conflict resolution, creativity, common sense, empathy, adaptability and the list goes on. These are all “people skills” and how you interact with others. The number one reason that people get fired, demoted or not hired at all is the lack of these skills. Technical skills may get you an interview, but these critical skills will get you the job! All of these skills are learned skills that can and should be taught by yourself, parents, teachers and mentors or other key people in your life.

Here is my list of the six most critical skills that someone needs to survive in the 21st century. They are:

(1) Communication Skills: both written and spoken communication skills are essential. Can you write a paragraph with good spelling and grammar? Can you speak, in english, and make a point about a topic? Can you write or speak in a way that the receiver of this information finds it clear, concise and easy to understand? Communicating effectively with other employees or team members is an essential skill for success in the 21st century.

(2) Listening Skills: learning to be a good listener is one of the most important critical skills to obtain. Communication is a two-way street. After you have spoken about something, listening carefully will help you understand if what you said was fully understood. Good listeners are appreciated by others. You need to listen to other peoples ideas and not cut them off with your ideas or solutions if you are going to be a good communicator. Learning to be a good listener is not easy for everyone but is critical to learn to do.

(3) Problem Solving Skills: Having good problem solving skills can make a huge difference to your career and future. Can you clearly defined the problem to be solved? Many people want to start with solutions rather than clearly defining the problem to be solved. Can you incorporate other peoples ideas and suggestions into a plan? Can you keep an open mind during the discussion?

(4) Teamwork and Adaptability skills: Can you listen to others ideas without imposing yours? Can you question other people without insulting them? Are you a good participant when planning or discussing activities? Are you willing to put in the same amount of time and effort?

(5) Willingness to Try New Things: Are you open to new ideas and considering doing things in a different way? Are you open to new and different thinking about solutions to problems? Employees of different ages can approach solutions with radically different approaches and ideas…. are you willing and able to consider their ideas?

(6) Good Manners: Good manners seem to have gotten lost with a lot of people. “Please”, “Thank You” and “Your Welcome” are seldom heard from the “me generation”. As I mentioned earlier in this blog, all of the above skills, are people skills. and your ability to communicate with others, gain there respect and trust are essential to your success. Good manners are appreciated and respected by others and demonstrate that you are a first class person. I will have more to say about manners in an upcoming blog.


Bill Habermehl