Essential Skills for Success: Learning Skills and People Skills

We now live in a fast-changing world and your ability to adapt is becoming more important than ever. In this kind of world, just being a generalist or specialist is not enough. You need to become a versatilist. A versatilist is a person who can quickly adapt to new situations and take advantage of them. I like how The World Is Flat describes versatilists: “They have to prepare like someone who is training for the Olympics but doesn’t know what sport they are going to enter.” That’s how we should prepare ourselves these days.
Essential skills: learning skills and people skillsWhile there are many skills that versatilists could possess, there are two essential ones they must have. If you have these two skills, you will be able to go anywhere you want, quickly adapt to new situations, and take advantage of them. The two skills are:

  1. Learning skills, and
  2. People skills

Let’s look at them one by one.

Learning Skills

Learning skills help you learn new knowledge and skills quickly. It allows you to enter a new field before the majority of other people. When the rest of the world eventually come, you will already be in a strong position.
Here are some tips to improve your learning skills:
1. Build curiosity
Curiosity is important if you want to be a good learner. If you are curious, you will be eager to learn and enjoy learning. You will naturally want to learn further and deeper than many other people. One way to build curiosity is to assume things to be interesting. Instead of labeling something as boring, find its interesting side.
2. Build questioning habit
Don’t just accept something as it is. Instead, dig deeper through its surface with questions. Asking why is perhaps the most important question you should ask because it allows you to question conventional wisdom and see things differently.
3. Build reading habit
While most people know that reading is important, only a few of them make reading a habit. Making reading a habit makes a lot of difference. By reading for just 1 hour a day, in one week you will already read for 7 hours if you do it consistently. Just imagine how much more people with reading habit will learn after 10 years.
4. Develop reading skills
While the quantity of your reading time is important (which is why you should make it a habit), its quality is also important. So you need to develop your reading skills. Good reading skills help you get the most out of your reading time by making it more effective and efficient.
5. Master research tools
Mastering research tools will help you find the answer of the questions you have. While most people can use tools like Google, only a few people master them. There are many tricks that only a few people know and these people have tremendous advantage in learning. They can find accurate answers to their questions in shorter time than other people.

People Skills

Learning skills deal with what you know but people skills deal with who you know. People skills help you build a strong network in the field you enter. By having people skills, you will have friends with whom you can exchange value for mutual benefit. It will give you significant advantage over those who do not have such network.
Here are some tips to improve your people skills:
1. Love people
First of all, you should love people. If you prefer not to meet people than meeting them, you are unlikely to have good people skills. Make it a joy to connect with others.
2. Put relationships on higher priority than tasks
There are so many tasks at hand that demand our attention. But, if you want to have good people skills, you should put relationships on higher priority.
3. Help others succeed
The law of networking remains the same: you should give first before you receive. Give genuinely without expecting something in return and you will later receive what you need.
4. Make other people feel important
People love to be appreciated and you can build strong relationships by making people feel important. Of course, you should do it in a genuine – not manipulative – way. People can sense your true motive.
5. Forget yourself for a moment
Doing all the above is difficult if your mind is consumed with yourself. When all you think is how to get something for yourself, there is only little space left for others. Free some space by forgetting yourself for a moment and use the space to think about others.
Photo by llawliet


  1. […] Essential Skills for Success: Learning Skills and People Skills On a similar note, Life Optimizer shares some thoughts on how to stay competitive in our fast-paced society, and suggests to invest in both learning skill (the ability to acquire new skills systematically) and people skill (the ability to connect and influence). (@Life Optimizer) VerbaLearn Boosts Your Vocab Talking of learning, here’s a powerful fresh online tool to increase your vocabulary (@Lifehacker). Join the resolution revolution! Many posts have appeared everywhere in the blogosphere on the theme of New Year’s resolutions. I’d choose this one, which is fun and got me thinking about adding more fun to my life in 2009, no matter what. (@Wise Bread) […]

  2. I’m glad I live in a world where my species has evolved to the point that we can break down and analyze our own minds and functional requirements and learn from the results of our analysis.

  3. People skills and leadership skills are so important, it’s amazing that so many don’t take the time to learn them. If you get a chance, check out A Dog’s Advice to Leaders by Jo Ellen Roe. Not only is it a great guide to improving your people skills, it’s a fun and entertaining read too.

  4. You raised some very good points and I think that developing the people skills will help in the social networks which encourage attraction marketing.

  5. Gail,
    Attraction marketing is something new for me. Nice term 🙂

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