10 People Skills That Can Help Advance Your Career

Graduate Student Highlights Basic Human Relations Tips

April 30, 2020
Jessica Lilly
Jessica Lilly

1. Communication is Critical 
“I have seen the importance of communicating effectively both in college and in my current workplace.  Verbal and written communication create a lasting impression on the receiving end, and you must be specific and distinct without coming off as aggressive,” said Lilly. She added that whenever possible, you should get up from your desk and go speak to a colleague in person for valuable face time, making a connection that can be long lasting and mutually beneficial. 

2. Always Compromise 
Ensuring that any negotiation or discussion you initiate concludes with an “I win, you win” scenario is essential as this helps to build trust, respect and a strong relationship with your subordinates, peers and even your superiors. “After taking a negotiation course at GSB, I learned framing, strategizing and planning for negotiation; strategy and tactics of distributive bargaining; and strategy and tactics of integrative negotiations, which have enabled me to do this with ease,” Lilly said. 

3. Never Forget the Importance of Active Listening 
When expressing a point, it’s essential to remind yourself that you’re not the center of the universe and need to demonstrate empathy, as well as actively listen and respect other points of view, even if you might not agree with them. If you give a little, you will get a little and this can prove invaluable in the workplace as people have long lasting memories. Plus, it showcases your flexibility in key situations.  

4. Demonstrate Leadership Through Action 
Realizing that true leadership is shown by example rather than via words is vital, both in life and in business. Truth be told, people will always gravitate toward a leader who does not “tell” people what to do but one who “exemplifies or shows” what needs to be done by being a role model and demonstrating it.

5. Leave Your Ego at the Door 
Just like you might pack your lunch or pick out your outfit every day before heading into the office, it’s also important to put aside your ego. Colleagues quickly develop trust and admiration for individuals who display humility, a collaborative mindset and perhaps most importantly, a positive attitude. 

6. Be Creative 
In very regulated environments, you might feel as if you don’t have the ability to be creative. Yet, there is always room for at least some creativity in business and it sparks innovation and uncovers hidden talent. “In class, we reviewed a case study on Pixar, a computer animation studio, and this changed the way I look at human resources and financial services indefinitely. I realized that no matter what workplace you’re in, coming up with out-of-the-box ideas will spur different ideas business-wide and leveraging different strategies can result in positive business outcomes,” according to Lilly. 

7. Admit When You Don’t Know Something 
If you can’t ask for help when needed, how will you ever learn and be prepared to complete a similar task next time? The truth is that we learn so much from our peers and it’s always a better idea to say that you don’t know something rather than going with the “fake it until you make it” approach. Bonus: Your more experienced peers will appreciate your willingness to learn and be more likely to assist you if you’re honest. 

8. Network as Often and Everywhere Possible 
Take every opportunity you can to expand your business networks, even if you’re not currently job searching, as it will help to build your confidence, practice interviewing skills and make connections that can provide you with crucial advice and more. Be open to any networking opportunity that may arise as you can never predict who you’ll meet or what they’ll teach you. Who knows what opportunity could fall in your lap at any moment in time? 

9. Don’t Be Afraid to Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone 
“While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I was never the student that was raising my hand to ask tons of questions or someone who ever sat in the front of the classroom. There were literally hundreds of students in every class and we were all just numbers. However, Touro gave me the confidence to expand my social skills through speaking out and sharing my opinion, taking me way outside of my comfort zone. I really appreciate the small class sizes here and that my professors make it a point to show that they’re committed to getting to know me on a personal level through asking about my interests and career goals. I encourage you to embrace new ways of doing things that might be uncomfortable at first,” said Lilly. 

10. People and Human Capital are Most Important 
Treat your peers, supervisor and subordinates with a high level of respect to build positive relationships that will drive the best results. Your individual work ethic is a large contributor to the success of any business, yet the interpersonal relationships you build with your team are by far the most valuable. Forming a connection on something as small as how you spent your weekend makes a huge difference in how you’re viewed. Being friendly and approachable goes a long way in ensuring that a comfortable working environment with a cohesive team is created. People who connect well on a personal level are willing to go the extra mile for the team professionally and their collaborations are usually highly successful. We all work harder and deliver more when we enjoy the company of our supervisor and colleagues and feel they have our backs.