Modern businesses are acutely aware of the measure of success or failure. Ultimately, we’re all classified as one or the other and it’s fair to say most of us would prefer to be put in the “successful” group.
But how do you get there? Success can be measured by many metrics, and who’s to say how success should be defined? What you consider successful may not be the same for the engineer to your left or the accountant to your right.
There are countless consultancy firms, 54,723, to be exact, eager to tell you what they think you should do to be successful. Business consulting didn’t become a 13 billion dollar industry for nothing. But what do they know about your success?
Success is often subjective; however, there are a few skills every prosperous person has mastered but rarely talks about. Here are four little-known skills of highly successful people.
Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence
These two skills go hand-in-hand and both are extremely important.
To be successful, you have to be in-tune with the way the world perceives you. Do you come off haughty or humble? Are people put-off by your delivery or engaged when you speak? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you find success.
The trick is understanding how you’re being perceived and responding accordingly. If you sense you’re coming off condescending, adapt and adjust your approach. If you think you’re being too overbearing, soften your delivery.
This is where emotional intelligence comes into play – it’s like an elevated version of self-awareness. Because self-awareness is that, awareness, it takes someone with a sophisticated level of emotional intelligence to take in their observations and alter their behaviors based on who they’re dealing with.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be yourself or portray completely different versions of yourself to different people; you don’t speak to a CEO the same way you would a five-year-old, and vice versa. You’re probably thinking “of course I wouldn’t do that!” But emotional intelligence is more nuanced.
Emotional intelligence enables you to not only understand how you’re being perceived but to objectively adjust your approach. You have complete control of your emotions, and if a coworker finds you to be rude or annoying, you aren’t bothered. Instead, you take in what they’re telling you, either through words or body language, and change your delivery without animosity or angst. You don’t get mad – you get better.
Emotional intelligence also helps you to better relate to those around you. In addition to hearing what people have to say, you decipher the emotions behind their words to learn the truth of what they’re communicating.
A keen sense of emotional intelligence can help you decipher messages between team members and peers. When a coworker tells you, “I’m not happy at work,” you hear “I need more resources.” What they’re saying to you is important, but the emotional message behind the words is equally important. If you can decode people’s emotions, you can better serve them, making you a strong, successful leader.
Being able to read and respond to people’s emotions requires you to approach their feelings with the utmost care. Successful people can use their emotional intelligence to read and respond to others’ emotions in a way that doesn’t put them on the defensive and encourages them to share with you.
Self-awareness and emotional intelligence are essential to becoming successful. They’re skills that make you more personable and relatable so people are more likely to support you. These skills can also make you an expert negotiator.
Being able to get what you want through negotiation is essential to becoming successful. There are so many things that make a great negotiator, including self-awareness and emotional intelligence. You can cultivate certain skills to become an expert negotiator.
If you want to negotiate well, start with a clear goal. In advance of any negotiation, determine what you want to get out of the discussion, what you’re willing to give and the minimum take away you’ll be satisfied with. Come up with a Plan B; negotiations can be unpredictable, and you need to be prepared for anything.
Knowing these variables before going to the negotiation table will help you stick to your commitments and increase the likelihood you’ll leave with what you want.
Confidence is another important component of negotiation. If you aren’t confident in what you’re asking for, or yourself for that matter, you won’t get far. People perceive a lack of confidence as a weakness, and they’ll use this to gain the upper hand in the negotiation.
Being persuasive is a vital skill for an expert negotiator. It takes tact, optimism, and self-awareness. Persuasiveness requires you to know how to sell what you want and make the deal look as attractive as possible to the other side. You can think of persuasiveness in much the same way you would sales skills; making the other party not only take the deal but believe in the value of what they’re getting.
Great negotiators know, no matter how persuasive their delivery, they need to maintain a so-called poker face. This can be a bit difficult because you’re often eager to go into a negotiation, snap up what you want and leave. But successful negotiators don’t do that.
If you take on the role of the reluctant party, your negotiating adversary will feel the pressure and be more willing to make concessions so the reluctant party (you) proceeds with the deal.
What makes negotiation great is that it’s a skill you can build and grow. If you don’t think you’re a strong negotiator, you can become one. In addition to reading articles like this, you can also study online to learn more about negotiation and set yourself up to develop your skills further.
According to Inc. magazine, subpar communication costs large companies a shocking $9.3 billion annually. The importance and value of clear, effective communication cannot be understated. If you want to be successful you must learn how to communicate well. This means not only hearing but listening.
Successful people absorb the meaning of words and hear their coworkers out; great communicators know the importance of listening to what people have to say. The more they listen to people, the better they’ll understand them and effectively lead.
Communicating well also means you do more listening than talking. You already know your thoughts, and while it’s valuable to communicate those thoughts to others, it’s almost always more insightful to listen to what they have to say. Let others speak first and make sure they’ve exhausted all their thoughts before adding your own.
Insert communication pie graph
According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, only seven percent of communication is conveyed by words. The remaining 93 percent is conveyed through vocal inflection (38 percent) and nonverbal cues (55 percent).
Those statistics ring true for the messages you’re trying to deliver, and the messages people are trying to relate to you. Know that only seven percent of what you’re trying to say or understand is coming from actual language. Control your inflection and non-verbal communication and learn how to decipher those variables to understand others.
With technology constantly beckoning us to engage in work activities when home, balance can be hard to achieve; staying away from work and enjoying personal time can seem impossible. But the most successful people know that balance is possible and extremely important.
Maintaining a good balance between your work and professional life is possible, but you have to know how. First and foremost, set boundaries with technology.
Build some tech-free time into your day. This could be in the morning (ensuring you don’t look at a screen until you get into the office) or maybe you want your evening family time free from the distractions of technology. Think about what will work for your life and apply it in a way that makes sense for you. There’s no wrong way to do this.
You should also stop trying to be perfect. Perfection is impossible, and the more you try to please others and promote perfection, the more you’ll be disappointed by falling short.
Herbert Bayard Swope, the first recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in reporting once said, “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure—it is: try to please everybody.”
He was right. Perfection and pleasing everyone will doom you to failure. Successful people know this and avoid aiming for perfection to maintain balance in their lives.
You can also foster balance by spending time each day exercising or meditating. This doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment; you can do it as much or as little as you please. The point is to simply do it because these activities are a great distraction to help you maintain balance and reduce stress.
People sometimes use the phrase “overnight success” to describe a meteoric rise to the top. This term is a fallacy. Almost no one finds success overnight.
To be successful, you have to put in countless days of fostering self-awareness and emotional intelligence, cultivating negotiation skills, practicing communication, and implementing balance. Armed with these skills, success is possible for anyone.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.