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Nine Soft Skills to Transform Your Career (And Get You a Promotion)

by | Dec 19, 2022 | Startups

Smart people with high IQs and fancy degrees aren’t the ones to envy.

Many of them have huge egos that hold them back from greatness. If you’ve ever done leadership training or watched a Simon Sinek video, you’ll know that career success is 80% EQ (emotional intelligence) and 20% IQ.

Gary Vee also made emotional intelligence go viral over the last few years as he found the skill helped him lead through tough times.

The growth potential of most businesses is limited by the emotional intelligence of their leaders.

So to get ahead in your career you want to master soft skills. Here are the ten to master.

Skill #1 — Have difficult conversations without becoming a “Karen” hater

Many workplaces are a game of Ch!nese whispers.

No one says what they think. There are the meeting and email conversations, and then the real conversations. It’s frustrating as hell to navigate … but it makes sense.

We don’t want to say the truth because it could get us fired and take away our food and shelter.

The problem is it stalls progress. And when workplace progress stalls on whatever you’re working on it’s hard to become a high performer.

The times I’ve made huge progress in my career have been when I said things no one else would say. Like the time I told a big customer of a social media agency I worked for that they’d been lied to.

No one else was willing to tell them. Everyone papered over the cracks of what a salesperson said who no longer worked there.

Once I told them 1000 leads a month for a few hundred dollars was bullsh*t, I got their respect and turned them into a lifelong customer.

The key is to disagree and have zero hate for them, even though they have a different opinion. Hard to do but career-transforming.

Say what no one else will say.

Worst case you move on to another job, which is a boatload of fun anyway and brings extra growth.

Skill #2 — Hang out with emotionally intelligent co-workers (badasses)

… not boss babies.

I worked for a boss baby. The guy threw a tantrum every time he felt his corporate power could come under threat.

It didn’t take much to upset him. He was emotionally fragile, petrified of change, and his job title equaled his self-worth. You don’t want to hang around these losers. Quit ’em.

Emotional intelligence is infectious. When you hang around those who possess it, even if you don’t, it rubs off on you.

Skill #3 — Accept you can’t always be happy in your career

There are times when your career will suck.

Perhaps a recession has got your employer by the curly ones. Or maybe a competitor has made mince meat of their #1 product.

The problem with TikTok, LinkedIn, and social media is it’s made us think our career always has to be amazing.

Like a bad day at the office is uncommon and everyone’s living their best life working at a tech company with unlimited kombucha on tap.

I call bullsh*t.

High emotional intelligence is taking the good with the bad.

Skill #4 — Master the 5-sentence memo

Emotionally intelligent people are deeply compassionate.

That means they respect other people’s time and realize most are time-poor and dying to get home to their little Johnny to have dinner with them.

They also understand the average person has a full-time job just checking email 24/7. So, they send short weekly memos to update leaders on progress.

  • Here’s the ‘ask’
  • Here’s what we’ve done
  • Here’s what we found out
  • Here’s what we have planned
  • Here’s what we need from you

Concise communicators get an unfair advantage at work (and online).

Skill #5 — Tell stories better than Disney

Tony Robbins says emotion creates motion.

Emotionally intelligent people understand that early on and become experts at telling stories.

Stories in business cause, often, rigid corporate folk to make illogical decisions or to think with their heart. This level of persuasion produces results, therefore, leading to built-in promotions.

If I was to learn one storytelling technique, it would be the hero’s journey framework Star Wars used in the original movies.

Skill #6 — Notice emotions in others

Understanding your own emotions is level one.

The real power lies in seeing emotion in other people at work. When you do, you can see the invisible problems no one else does.

That level of emotional intelligence can block manipulation from those who seek to take advantage of you for their own gain.

Ask yourself: “I wonder how they’re feeling about…?”

Skill #7 — Know when no response is the best response

Emotionally unintelligent babies at work act on emotions.

If someone says something that offends them, they let their ego dictate their actions. They get high as a kite on putting people back in their box. If they’ve got the flu then they take out their pain on you.

It’s often clear something shady at work is going on. If a situation tingles your spidey sense then try the no response is the best response framework.

I had one customer accuse my employer of fraud.

They made all sorts of salacious claims and dropped the names of several law enforcement agencies. As much as they were full of you-know-what, I chose not to respond.

I silently forwarded their email to our legal team and let them take out the trash. As a result, I didn’t say anything that could get me in trouble or create more drama.

By the time it all went to court the customer’s lies had escaped their mouth and they lost before the trial even started.

Not every email warrants a response.

And emotionally unintelligent emails you get are often better to respond to after deep contemplation.

Skill #8 — Insist on brutal feedback and cop the punch in the face

Feedback at work is sugar-coated.

No one wants to have HR call them up and accuse them of bullying or some other cruel crime. As a result we miss out on gorgeous critical feedback.

Feedback is a gift because it gives you the information needed to improve and later excel in your career.

The trick is to give people permission to give you the real feedback. I tell the customers of my online business all the time:

“Can I get your feedback? Also, please feel free to be brutal. Nothing you say will offend me and I’ll do my best to implement it.”

These three sentences allow me to hear what’s not being sent.

The last time I did a few people said one product was too high priced but they didn’t want to say anything in case I thought they were a cheap ass.

With this new feedback, I implemented it, and tripled sales.

Learn not to get emotional over feedback. It’s the difference between old you and the one that gets the promotion everyone is surprised by.

Skill #9 — Learn to see negative emotions as good

Let’s finish on this one.

Career frustration can bring up all sorts of negative emotions. When my team at a bank got disbanded, I became a bitter, twisted, cranky old man.

I held on to the emotion everywhere I went. Later I got a new job and acquired many new skills.

Now I look back on those negative emotions and realize they were trying to tell me something: it’s time to move on.

Negative emotions are a compass. Follow their redirection.

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