30 Important Life Skills You Can Use in the Workplace

Updated March 10, 2023

As you advance in your career and grow as an individual, you continue to increase the abilities that can make you a successful adult. Whether or not you realize it, you likely use life skills in the workplace as much as you do in your personal life. If you're entering a new profession or already have a career, cultivating important life skills can help you grow into a confident and capable professional, no matter the industry you're in. 

In this article, we discuss how life skills can impact your success in the workplace and list 30 examples of important skills you can incorporate into your professional life. 

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How can life skills help in the workplace?

Using life skills in the workplace can help you perform your work responsibilities and apply technical knowledge more effectively. Many soft skills that employers look for in capable staff members are also essential life skills. The same abilities that help you lead a productive and happy life can lead to similar results in the workplace. 

Related: Life Skills for Career Success (And How To Improve Them)

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30 most important life skills

Here are the top life skills you can transfer to the workplace:

1. Time management

One of the most important and useful life skills you can use at work is time management. Once you enter the workforce as an adult, deadlines, meetings and daily tasks all need your time and attention. Keeping a calendar and schedule can help you manage your workload, but the ability to stay on task and prioritize projects is an essential skill in the workplace.

Related: 5 Key Tips for Improving Your Time Management Skills

2. Basic technology skills

Digital and technological literacy are important for nearly any job. It's helpful to have a working knowledge of word processing and using the internet for communication or locating information. Using basic computer equipment like printers, digital cameras and tablets is important too. Consider becoming familiar with the social platforms used for communication and marketing depending on your industry.

3. Empathy

Considering a situation from a different perspective is a life skill that's also important in the workplace. Empathy helps you overcome conflict and promotes understanding between employees of diverse backgrounds. It also helps to develop a positive and trusting work environment that may attract high-quality individuals. 

4. Nonverbal communication

It's no secret that communicating verbally and in writing are important for succeeding in most workplaces. How you communicate with your facial expressions, hand gestures and body language can also affect your interactions with others in the workplace. Managing nonverbal cues can contribute to a positive work environment by assuring colleagues through positive reinforcement. 

5. Financial competence

Knowing how to budget and handle funds is a necessary professional skill, especially if you're working in a role that requires you to handle, count and organize money. It's not uncommon for managers to ask employees to spend company money or estimate the amount of a project. Consider familiarizing yourself with common financial terminology. 

Related: Why Financial Literacy Is Important for Your Career

6. Public speaking

Even though your job may not require you to speak in front of large groups of people, public speaking skills help you demonstrate your knowledge and confidence in many situations. Public speaking is a necessary skill to help you communicate a vision to coworkers. If you plan to move into a leadership position during your career, it's important to feel comfortable speaking to others.

7. Negotiation

Working in a professional environment often requires contract discussions and sales negotiations. Getting comfortable with making a deal is a helpful tool for nearly any industry. If you are self-employed or planning to work for yourself one day, you'll most likely need to negotiate your own contracts with clients and vendors.

Related: How To Improve Self-Awareness in Leadership in 7 Steps

8. Networking

Networking is one of the most popular terms in workplace culture. Connecting with other professionals is beneficial at any point in your career. Knowing how to meet new people and engaging in discussion, both personal and business-related, may help you find new opportunities for advancement.

9. Humility

Being humble is a life skill that allows you to put others first and ask for help when you need it. Employers value these qualities in their staff and are likely to notice when you show this trait. This can also help foster a positive and friendly work environment. 

10. Professionalism

Professionalism refers to your ability to maintain a work-appropriate demeanor and presentation. You can show professionalism in the way you dress, speak and act in any work-related activity or environment. This skill often requires perceptiveness and self-control as you make choices that affect your job.

Related: Professionalism Skills: Definition and Examples

11. Resiliency

Throughout your career, you'll need to overcome challenges and face criticism without giving up. Showing resiliency proves that you get stronger despite any problems or setbacks that come your way. Employers look for staff members who can learn from failure and quickly get back to work after a hardship.

12. Decisiveness

Making quick decisions as part of your personal work habits can lead to more productive outcomes. If you're in a management or administrative position, you'll likely have to make important decisions at one time or another. This is also an important trait for anyone in a leadership role.

13. Teachable mind

To progress in your career, you'll need to keep learning. If you're teachable, you'll learn more from others as you pursue new and better ways to perform your work. Some people call this a "growth mindset" because you're always ready to expand your knowledge and capabilities.

14. Self-awareness

People who are self-aware check for feedback from peers by observing their words and body language. Professionals use this trait in the workplace to gain an understanding of how people receive their performance and contributions. It also allows you to make adjustments to your behaviors as necessary. 

Related: The Importance of Self-Awareness in Leadership

15. Communication

One of the main skills used in any professional environment is communication. Communication is a multi-faceted ability that involves sharing information, building relationships and making connections with other professionals in the workplace. With the onset of more digital tools, communicating across online channels makes this skill even more necessary.

16. Writing

Consider how much you need to communicate through email, messaging systems and social media. Good writing skills help you express yourself well in the workplace and through other professional circumstances. Writing skills can also help you create a better resume and cover letter that are more likely to get noticed by prospective employers.

17. Critical thinking

Critical thinking trains you how to think instead of what to think about. It teaches you to ask questions and consider multiple answers so you become better at creating solutions for yourself and others on your team. Offering solutions instead of complaints is helpful to everyone involved in a project at work.

Related: 10 Top Critical Thinking Skills (And How To Improve Them)

18. Analysis

The ability to analyze compliments other skills by adding a level of complex thinking to any process. Analyzing an action, thought or decision before, during and after you complete it can improve your performance in the workplace. For example, if you analyze the process you use to complete a task, you can find ways to make your work more efficient.

19. Organization

Organization goes beyond keeping a workspace free from clutter. One of the most valuable life skills involves keeping tangible and intangible things in order. Whether you keep your daily tasks organized by a calendar or create a process for storing important emails, being organized is a habit that can improve your professional life.

Related: 10 Examples of Organization in the Workplace

20. Sense of humor

Social skills can make a major difference in workplace culture. When you can laugh at yourself and be comfortable joking appropriately with others, you can create a positive environment in your workplace. A sense of humor can dissolve tension and help you make connections with coworkers, no matter where you work. 

21. Basic etiquette

The workplace usually requires a higher level of formality for conducting business. You may not need to know which fork to use first at a grand banquet, but understanding the generally accepted rules of polite behavior is important. Practices like writing a thank you note for a gift, using good table manners and treating others with respect are all part of professional etiquette.

Related: Proper Business Etiquette (With Communication Tips)

22. Problem-solving

The ability to solve problems may seem simple, but it's a skill you can improve over your lifetime. Solving your own dilemmas doesn't mean you never ask for help. Being a problem-solver means you focus on ways to fix a situation instead of giving up, getting frustrated or settling for less than excellent work.

23. Confidence

Introverted and extroverted professionals can both develop confidence as part of their innate abilities. One of the best ways to be confident at work is by seeking to improve your own abilities while affirming what you already do well. Saying yes to new experiences can also increase your confidence.

Related: 26 Confidence-Building Activities That Can Help You Cultivate Success

24. Self-control

Practicing self-control in the workplace is essential to maintain your professional reputation and relationships. Exercising self-control at work means choosing what you communicate regardless of your emotions and controlling your actions. For example, staying productive during work hours instead of giving into distractions that constantly take your focus away from an important task is a way of utilizing self-control at work.

25. Perseverance

Adversity and challenges are part of any career. Those who succeed often do so because they refuse to give up in difficult circumstances. The ability to renew your hope and desire to excel makes perseverance an important trait to transfer to the workplace.

26. Creativity

Creativity is a way to express unique thinking in any field. Use creativity in the workplace to think differently about a situation or come up with a new way to complete a task. Artistic creativity can be useful in a variety of industries to inspire, entertain and attract customers.

Related: Your Guide To Improving Your Creativity at Work

27. Leadership

Leaders exert positive influence over a group of people. You can develop leadership skills by taking responsibility for outcomes and making decisions that affect yourself and others. You can also find a myriad of books, blogs, podcasts, websites and training seminars devoted to improving your leadership skills in the workplace.

28. Collaboration

Working with others to complete tasks is something you've probably practiced since you did your first team project in school. Collaboration in the workplace requires more than just adding your input to the group. It means listening and using the strengths of everyone on your team to produce the best outcome.

29. Adaptability

The ability to adapt to unexpected circumstances is a valuable skill to employers. Showing that you can change your work style and take on new roles when it's needed proves your flexibility to an employer. You can show adaptability by committing to learn new processes as you work. 

Related: Adaptability in the Workplace: Benefits and Importance

30. Curiosity

A curious mind means constant learning, and that's an important trait for professionals in any industry. Curiosity leads to new ideas and innovations, which can result in increased success for the employer. The more you're willing to learn, the more useful you can be as a professional.

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