Five Must-Have People Skills in the Workplace

Five Must-Have People Skills in the Workplace

People skills can make or break your career.

As per McKinsey, by 2030, the need for finely tuned social and emotional skills will rapidly grow as the world’s adoption of new technologies, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) expands. While hard skills, like coding or accounting, are still in high demand, people skills are becoming increasingly important in the workplace. Employers are looking for empathetic, friendly workers who can interact effectively with others. The reason is simple: Those with strong people skills can build healthy relationships, resolve conflicts and come up with win-win solutions.

Here are five must-have people skills in the workplace if you’re looking to improve your career prospects. With these skills, you’ll thrive in the workplace and leave an excellent impression on your team and employers.

Active listening

One of the most influential people skills in the workplace is active listening, which allows you to become a better communicator and keep the other parties engaged in the conversation. It is the practice of listening attentively to the speaker, understanding their verbal and non-verbal cues (e.g., body language), reflecting on what they’ve said and responding to them. It also helps you retain information that might be useful later.

British venture capital conglomerate Virgin Group’s founder Richard Branson believes listening is more important than speaking. “You have to listen to the people on the front line. That’s a very Virgin trait. Listening enables us to learn from each other, from the marketplace, and from the mistake that must be made to get anywhere that is original and disruptive,” he says.


Empathy is not always easy, but it is a crucial people skill that can make a big difference in the workplace. According to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), nine out of ten U.S. workers believe empathy is integral to a healthy workplace culture. 

Empathy allows us to understand and share the feelings of others, which can help build strong relationships and foster a positive work environment. It is a key lever in driving toxicity out of the company by remaining open to other viewpoints and fostering a climate where people can share transparently to move together forward, explains SHRM’s Chief Knowledge Officer Alex Alonso.

Communication skills

Effective communication skills are essential for any individual in a work setting. Whether you are a supervisor, coworker or employee, it helps you get along with others, resolve conflicts and stay on track. However, communication is where teams can easily make mistakes, especially when they are still getting used to working together. 

Not only will poor communication impact the working atmosphere in the office, but it will also cost the company money. New market research by AI-powered writing tool Grammarly and international consulting firm The Harris Poll estimates a potential loss of over US$1.2 trillion to businesses per year due to poor communication. 

According to Grammarly’s Head of Organizations Revenue Dorian Stone, businesses must stop ignoring the impact of poor communication and commit to making communication a competitive advantage to move faster, be more efficient and do better for customers and employees.  


Teamwork is crucial but challenging to navigate, especially in the setting of remote work, where not every team member logs on to work during the same hours. Simply put, teamwork is working well with others in a collaborative environment to achieve a common goal. 

Regional Director at recruitment firm Hays Eliza Kirkby emphasizes, “With effective teamwork, teams are more productive, deadlines are met, staff relationships grow stronger and corporate knowledge is shared,” she says. 

A few key things make up good teamwork—functional communication, mutual respect and a willingness to compromise. If you have these three critical elements of teamwork, you will be well on your way to being an asset on any team you join.

Emotional intelligence

Where there are people, there are conflicts. Hence, you need to train your emotional intelligence to make thoughtful decisions, maintain collaborative relationships and handle disagreement skillfully.  

Amy Bradley, Professor of Management and Leadership at Hult International Business School in Massachusetts and the author of The Human Moment, believes that work gets done through people. If you cannot work and handle your and other people’s emotions, it becomes tough to get things done productively and sustainably. 

High emotional intelligence allows you to perceive, understand and manage emotions effectively. When employees can manage their emotions constructively, it improves work performance and teamwork. Additionally, a greater understanding of other people’s emotions can help build stronger relationships and resolve conflicts successfully. 

Harnessing and honing these five people skills are crucial to a fruitful career. After all, you will be working with others and thus must be able to communicate, resolve conflicts and build healthy relationships productively. 

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