Safeguard your job with these future-proof skills: Part two

Safeguard your job with these future-proof skills: Part two

A few weeks ago, I wrote about future-proof skills that will help us safeguard our jobs in years to come. In that article, I mostly focused on skills related to our mental capacity. In this article, I’m going to look at skills related to our emotional being. All of the skills mentioned below are based on two important abilities of us humans: empathy and compassion.

Empathy and compassion

Despite them often being used interchangeably, psychologists and neuroscientists claim that there is an important distinction between empathy and compassion. Empathy is the ability to feel the pain and joy that someone else is feeling. It basically makes us able to walk in someone else’s shoes. 

Compassion, on the other hand, is our brain’s ability to feel for another person (or self) and be actively willing to help alleviate their suffering and contribute to their happiness.

Although our mental capacities are undoubtedly important to our development as human beings, I believe that empathy and compassion are equally important when it comes to future-proofing ourselves, as these are skills that machines and AI are not able to learn. 

Future-proof yourself with these “human” skills

With that in mind, I believe that having the following skills will be crucial to success in our careers as we head into the future:

Resilience: The ability to embrace change

If we are able to recover (relatively quickly) from the difficult situations life throws at us, we can describe ourselves as resilient. The current coronavirus crisis shows us that in the future we might expect more difficulties instead of fewer. Psychologists agree that some of the factors that determine whether a person is resilient or not can relate to a positive mindset; the ability to turn failures into learned lessons and letting our brain recharge after stressful or traumatic experiences. The great news is that resilience can be seen as a skill and, as such, can be learned.

Cultural intelligence: Getting on with all kinds of people

In a modern world full of connections that reach all around the globe, some companies still seem to struggle with the idea of cultural intelligence. Why is that? One of the reasons is that we often still ignore cultural differences and treat our international colleagues as we would treat our local ones. Respecting and understanding the culturally different views of your employees is an important condition of running a successful global business.

We do not have to wait for the company to send us off to training; we can start educating ourselves today. One of my favourite books on this topic is When Cultures Collide, by Richard D. Lewis.

Virtual collaboration: Staying connected in all kinds of situations

Although many people were already working in virtually-connected teams, the coronavirus crisis took it to a whole new level, not only for big multinationals but also for small local companies. Virtual collaboration has shown us that it is possible to run businesses from home and that may have some big advantages.

In the future, it can be expected that a lot of companies will maintain (at least to some extent) this virtual collaboration. However, a big part of the message could be lost when it is communicated virtually instead of in person. Why? Often body language plays a big part when we communicate. During Zoom calls, we are not able to pick up on all subtleties of our body talk.

In order to master virtual communication and effective collaboration, we will need to work on ourselves further: our understanding of others, dealing with ambiguity and sharpening our own communication style.

Leadership skills: Learning to be great leaders

It is my belief that, in the future, we will not need leaders who think they know everything, but we will need leaders who are courageous and curious. By that I mean, curious to ask difficult questions, and ready to experiment, fail, get up and try again. We will need leaders who are compassionate, who care about our planet and people, and who have a strong sense of purpose.

In my work as a career coach, I’ve already observed a positive change in my clients. They want to transform their careers, so it matches their sense of purpose.

Compassion: Its importance cannot be overstated

Finally, let’s touch in on compassion once again. I want to emphasise this skill because I believe it is the basis for all of the above. As I said at the start, compassion is the ability and willingness to help others achieve a state of well-being and happiness. Without compassion, we cannot be resilient; without compassion, we cannot communicate nor collaborate with others successfully; and without compassion, we cannot be the true leaders of the future.

Any future-proof skills to add?

What other future-proof skills related to our careers would you like to add to the list? Share them in the comments below!

This article originally appeared on IamExpat in the Netherlands.

Dorota Klop-Sowinska


Dorota Klop-Sowinska

Official Member of Forbes Coaches Council. I specialize in international career and expat coaching. I am the author of the book Career Jump! How to Successfully Change Your Professional Path...

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