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December 21, 2022

5 Human Skills That Will Help You Get Ahead in 2023

Helen Essex

Wow. Just like that, another year done and dusted. And amidst all the holiday merriment and end-of-year madness, now is also a great time to reflect on what you’ve learned this year, and which skills you’d like to develop for 2023.

This year, in my role on Mind Tools' marketing team, we’ve been talking a lot about how "human skills," more commonly known as soft skills, support individuals to get ahead in the workplace. And how those human skills might look different in today's reimagined workplace.

Get a Head Start on 2023

So, without further ado, here's a rundown of the five standout human skills that employers are looking for in 2023!

1. Cognitive Flexibility

When planning this blog, I wanted to hear directly from the people I work with, to better understand what human skills have been most useful to them over the last year. My colleague Natalie pointed out that adaptability has been crucial:

"If we've learned anything over the past few years it's that change is inevitable. So, whether you're adopting new technologies, experiencing changes to your role, company, or to your working environment, you have to be able to adapt quickly and efficiently."

That's exactly what cognitive flexibility is all about: the ability to think differently when required and be open to change. What's more, someone with high cognitive flexibility will find it easier to manage multiple projects, and switch quickly from one topic to another – an invaluable skill in fast-paced workplaces or time-pressured meetings.

2. Growth Mindset

At Mind Tools, one of our own company values is that of "curiosity": listening, learning, and challenging the status quo. When you adopt a growth mindset, you're granting yourself the opportunity to develop. It means that you see the value of learning, taking on challenges and venturing into the unknown.

It's also the ability to recognize that while you might not understand a task in front of you at the start of the process, by choosing to tackle it, you will come out the other side stronger and more knowledgeable. On the flip side, those with a fixed mindset are more likely to doubt themselves and may struggle to move their career forward.

In her book, 'Mindset', psychologist Carol Dweck theorized how adopting a growth mindset can ultimately lead to greater success and increased self-confidence.

3. Personal Brand

Let’s be truthful, folks. The workplace can be a hectic and noisy place, making it hard to get noticed. Add virtual working to the mix and the opportunities to "shine" are not as obvious as they once were. It's now more important than ever to develop an authentic personal brand that will get you noticed for the right reasons.

What's more, we’re seeing increased numbers of Gen Z taking on executive and senior roles at work. This generation is made up of digital natives who have spent their lives crafting their personal brands on social media and are now well-equipped to translate these to the workplace. So, it's vital that you can keep up.

A great place to start with your personal brand is with these six steps:

  • Understand yourself
  • Find your niche
  • Improve your credibility
  • Identify your audience
  • Build your brand online
  • Practice what you preach

Take a look at our Personal Branding Infographic to find out more about personal brands and how they can help you get ahead in the new year.

4. Critical Thinking

If you demonstrate critical thinking, you'll develop a reputation for being challenging – in a positive way! Critical thinking is all about using experience, observation and logic to guide your decisions and beliefs. This isn't always easy, and in the workplace, it requires being able to distance yourself from your emotional or gut reactions.

Ultimately, however, if your decisions are informed by evidence and rationality, you will always be able to back up your reasoning and get other people on board with your ideas – a key leadership quality in 2023.

5. Communication

We've been hearing about how valuable communication skills are since the dawn of time. Nothing new there. But as the lines between personal and professional lives become increasingly blurred, an employee in 2023 may need to retune their communication skills. For example, remote conversations can look different to those that take place in person. New starters may have even had their entire interview and onboarding process run virtually!

Active listening is a valuable skill to develop to ensure that the conversations you do have with your colleagues, whether in person or online, are meaningful. By making a conscious effort to hear not only the words that are being said, but also the message, you can respond sensitively and provide feedback that resonates with the speaker.

With 2023 likely holding the crown as the most distraction-heavy year to date, it's also important to be present in meetings. Arriving prepared, being sure to ask questions at the right time, and feeding back to contributors are all great ways to build a sense of connection in meetings, whether they're virtual or not.

2023, Here We Come!

Hopefully, this article has inspired you to think about what skills you'd like to develop in 2023, and how they might be helpful in your own work environment. Share your ideas with your colleagues and see what other skills they're working on for the year ahead. Good luck!

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