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Career Development

9 Ways to Improve Your Personal Development Skills

February 14, 2020

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Personal development can contribute to your maturity, success and satisfaction. Many people build personal development skills throughout their lives to better themselves and reach their goals. They can do this through education, advice from a mentor, self-help and more. In this article, we will describe some of the most important personal development skills.

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What are personal development skills?

Personal development skills are qualities and abilities that help you grow both personally and professionally. Understanding and improving these skills can help you maximize your potential. This process is also known as self-development or personal growth. 

You can use personal development skills to:

  • Reach goals
  • Advance in your career
  • Improve your strengths and talents
  • Better yourself
  • Find fulfillment

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Examples of personal development skills

Personal development skills can be traits or qualities you already have or ones you can gain through education and training. People will value different personal development skills depending on their goals, but here are some examples of skills people commonly aim to develop:

  • Communication
  • Interpersonal
  • Organization
  • Problem-solving
  • Self-confidence
  • Adaptability
  • Integrity
  • Work ethic
  • Leadership

Communication

Communication includes your ability to speak, write and listen. With these skills, you can understand what others are saying and feeling and also convey your own ideas and feelings. Good communicators can speak clearly and confidently, using a tone that is positive and appropriate for the situation. 

Interpersonal

Also called people skills or social skills, interpersonal skills are the verbal and nonverbal behaviors and reactions to interactions with other people. They affect your ability to build relationships and make impressions on others in social situations.

Organization

Organization skills include the tidiness of your physical and digital spaces as well as your ability to plan, schedule and prioritize. Good organization can help save time, prevent miscommunications and improve efficiency.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving is your ability to handle challenging or surprising situations. Good problem-solvers can stay calm when they encounter obstacles and assess all their options to find the best solution.

Self-confidence

Self-confidence is the belief in your abilities, actions and decisions. If you have confidence in yourself, you might be more likely to pursue ambitious goals, try new things and believe you can succeed.

Adaptability

Adaptability is your ability to adjust quickly and easily to new things. People who handle change well often get along with a variety of personalities and thrive in any environment. They can remain calm in surprising situations.

Integrity

People tend to trust those who are honest and stand by their values. Integrity means doing what is right and telling the truth, even if it is not what they want to hear. Having integrity can lead to a good reputation and opportunities for advancement.

Work ethic

Work ethic includes not only hard work but also reliability, responsibility, quality, determination and discipline. People with good work ethic tend to be productive and have a positive attitude.

Leadership

Leadership is the ability to guide people. Good leaders can motivate others and help them reach a shared goal. They build confidence and improve morale.

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How to improve your personal development skills

You can enhance your personal development skills by taking classes, learning from the people around you, gaining new talents and improving upon existing ones. Follow these guidelines to develop yourself personally:

  1. Overcome your fears. Fear can prevent you from growing and progressing. If you are afraid of public speaking, for instance, take a class or join a group that helps people become better public speakers. If you are afraid of taking risks, find a mentor who can help you make good decisions and build your confidence. Grow and learn by trying things you might not be comfortable doing. If you are shy, try starting a conversation or introducing yourself to new people at a reception or workshop.

  2. Read. Reading expands our knowledge and vocabulary and keeps us informed. It stimulates our minds and can improve our critical thinking skills. Try setting a goal to read at least one educational or motivational article a day, or one book a month.

  3. Learn something new. Learn a new skill or topic, whether you do it yourself or sign up for a class. You might, for instance, take courses to learn another language, a new software program or how to write creatively. Consider watching a webinar on professional development topics such as entrepreneurship or social media marketing.

  4. Ask for feedback. Approach a family member, friend, colleague or manager, and ask them to give you feedback on a recent project or accomplishment. Use their positive comments as well as their constructive criticism to find ways to improve. Sometimes you need an outside, unbiased opinion to get a different perspective.

  5. Observe others. Watch and learn from the people who inspire you. This could be someone you know, such as a supervisor, family member or public figure. Identify the qualities you admire in them, and try to replicate those in yourself.

  6. Network. By interacting with many types of people, you can learn new ideas and understand how to communicate and work with different personality types. You can also meet people and develop relationships that might help you in the future. Network through industry organizations and shared interest groups, or attend conferences and events on topics that interest you.

  7. Keep a journal. Writing in a journal every day or week can help you gain self-awareness and reflect on recent events, decisions and conversations. You might keep a hand-written, private journal, or you might choose to share your thoughts and experiences by blogging. Use it to set and assess goals and progress.

  8. Meditate. Many people meditate to gain clarity and awareness and to reduce stress and anxiety. Meditation can help you focus on your self-development and goals in a healthy, positive and calm way. Even scheduling a break from work or quiet time to yourself can help you relax and focus.

  9. Get a mentor. If you need help identifying ways to build your self-development skills, talk to a mentor. This individual could be a manager, professor, someone you admire or a professional personal growth mentor.

Related: How to Develop Your Skill Set to Advance Your Career

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Personal development skills in the workplace

While personal development skills can benefit all parts of your life, these may be useful in the workplace and help you advance your career:

  • Be an active listener. Part of being a good communicator is paying attention to what other people say. Concentrate on understanding what your coworkers and clients are saying so you can remember that information and respond well. Use effective and professional listening and communication skills in everything from phone conversations to job interviews.

  • Work well with others. Good people skills make you a valued team member. You should be able to collaborate with and motivate others. Have the social skills to build relationships with colleagues, clients, customers and acquaintances of all types and backgrounds. 

  • Organize your time, work and materials. Plan out tasks so you can complete them quickly and easily. Know what projects to prioritize if you are handling more than one. If you are well-organized, you may be better able to meet your deadlines.

  • Work through challenging situations. When dealing with a problem, assess your options and determine the best solution. Know when to ask for advice or research different scenarios. People who can think critically and work through complex problems are more likely to make good decisions both in life and work.

  • Believe in yourself. If you have confidence in your decisions, others may be more likely to believe in you as well. This positive energy can help motivate and instill confidence in those around you. You are better able to handle challenges and reach goals if you approach them with confidence rather than doubt.

  • Adapt to change. Be flexible so you can deal with changes in work and life easily. Adaptable people can work well both alone and on a team, manage multiple projects, work under a variety of conditions, accept new ideas and more. Being able to respond well to change can also make these situations less stressful for everyone involved.

  • Be truthful. Honesty is the foundation of a positive relationship with colleagues and supervisors. Practice good ethics and stand by your values. Integrity can bring you respect, satisfaction and a good reputation at work.

  • Be committed to and passionate about your job. People with good work ethic tend to be productive, reliable and determined to do quality work. This dedication can help you complete tasks on time and motivate your peers.

  • Guide those around you. Being a good leader requires confidence, vision and communication. People with these natural leadership skills can help their team progress and be productive without being controlling.

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How to highlight personal development skills

List your personal development skills on your resume and when interviewing for a job to show employers you can succeed in that position.

1. Highlight personal development skills in your resume

Create a section in your resume titled “Skills” that includes both hard and soft skills. List only the personal development skills that apply to that job. If you have many skill types, you might group them by category within your resume’s skills section.

Example:

Relevant Skills

  • Time management: Consistently handled upward of six projects at a time and met 100% of deadlines

  • Organization: Created an efficient online filing system for a large group of clients using color-coded folders and documents as well as tags

  • Adaptability: Adjusted workflow to accommodate additional responsibilities, including refined task scheduling and time tracking

2. Highlight personal development skills in your cover letter

Choose a couple of personal development skills that you feel are strong and most relevant to the job. Within the body of your cover letter, describe briefly how you would apply each one to that job’s responsibilities, or give an example of how that skill has benefited you in the past.

Example: As an effective problem-solver, I helped customers quickly troubleshoot their programming issues. The clients I worked with reported a 92% success rate at resolving computer problems under my guidance.

3. Highlight personal development skills during your job interview

List your strongest personal development skills when answering interview questions, such as “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “What are your goals?” Describe your top skills, your plan for further development and where you have room for improvement. You can also use examples to show off your personal development skills. 

Example: “__During a period of tension in the workplace, my interpersonal skills and ability to form relationships helped unify our department. We became a far more cohesive and productive team.” 

These are just a few of the personal development skills that can benefit your life and your work. Self-development is a lifelong process upon which you can continue to improve. Focus on developing the skills that will best help you reach your goals.

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