Seven essential people skills for 2019 and beyond

25 January 2019 4 min. read
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In today’s fast-paced and uncertain business landscape, the role of human capital is becoming more important than ever. Emma-Sue Prince, a soft skills and effective behaviours consultant and expert, shares seven skills that are key for success in 2019 and beyond, and how employees can get them into their life.


Imagine responding to change and unfamiliar challenges with grace and ease? We all like to think we are adaptable and flexible – indeed we are hard-wired to be – yet we resist change and over react to even the smallest problems. Get more adaptable by saying “yes” more when you might naturally say “no”, trying out new things and choosing experiences and opportunities that are just a little outside of your comfort zone. The more you do this with smaller things, the more adaptable you will be when it comes to bigger changes. 

When it comes to behaviour changes we need to make them part of our muscle memory in small ways so that we know how to tap into that behaviour when it matters most.

Critical thinking

Engage with your amazing brain much more. Thinking critically is all about questioning your own (and other’s) assumptions. It’s also about managing your technology – that includes becoming more mindful about how you engage with social media, what information you choose to read (and when) and absorb and how often you just give yourself space to actually thinkRoutinise some of your everyday decisions too (like what you will wear or eat) and plan your day the night before so you can free up your brain for higher-order cognitive skills like creativity and problem-solving.

Seven essential people skills for 2019 and beyond


Relationships are key to our happiness and success, whether personal or professional. Empathy is the ability to put yourself into someone’s shoes – really hard to do but again, surprisingly or not, we are also hard-wired to be empathetic! Tap into this skill by paying attention to the person you are with – whether that is during a meeting, conversation or presentation. Paying attention is just that and you pay by being present. Being present only happens when we quieten our minds, unitask and put our phones away. The practice of mindfulness not only encourages presence but has been proven to strengthen the neurons in our brains that link with empathy. 


Do you do what you say you are going to do? Do you honour commitments and are you accountable for your actions? You might automatically answer yes but these days it is easier and easier to cancel things or come up with a reason for not doing something. Build trust by keeping promises and commitments – you’ll notice an immediate impact!

Being proactive

We’re natural procrastinators so we need to consciously take actions towards our goals. Every day, however small that step might be, take it. Break things down into chunks. Do whatever you need to make that process possible – whether that is by keeping a daily planner, creating a great morning routine for yourself (did you know that the most successful people have strong, purposeful morning routines) or refraining from multi-tasking. As tempting as it is to multi-task it is largely ineffective. If you can focus on one thing at a time, work on one item at a time you will get so much more done. Your productivity levels will soar.


This is a skill that can be nurtured and developed. Of all seven skills optimism, being proactive and resilience are the three that overlap the most. Strengthen any one of these three, and the other two automatically get a boost too. Optimism is created by actions rather than feelings. You can also strengthen it daily through writing down what you are grateful for and reflecting, at the end of your day, the positive experiences within it. 


Get better at dealing with setbacks by allowing yourself to fail more and take more risks. That may sound counter-intuitive but in the midst of uncertainty and change we need to embrace innovation and become solution-seekers and that only happens through being willing to make mistakes and learn from them. Being resilient is also about looking after yourself – getting enough sleep, the right food, making time for things you enjoy as well as making sure you are surrounded by a strong support network.