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-> LIVING SKILLS How to acquire

Why do we educate ourselves? Why do parents spend so much money giving their children and education? Why is there so much emphasis on the acquisition of a degree? The only answer you get is “to get a good job so that you earn lots of money”. But is this happening? Are our kids getting the right kind of education, one which will give them a great job and an even greater career path?

Looking at the present environment, I shudder when I think about the job opportunities being few and far between for young graduates who possess the qualifications. Graduates are educated but do not get the jobs because they lack the most important ingredients for the job market – living skills for the corporate environment.

Our educators have only now caught on that what is taught in university and what is needed in the corporate world have little correlation. The only graduates who have some hope of securing jobs are those who are professionally trained.

What are the living skills that everyone is talking about? These skills are basically elements of social and business etiquette and good manners that are required for the conduct of one in society in the social and business worlds. And how do you learn these skills? It begins at home, from early as a year old, right through school, university and later on in the organisation that employs. This is also called corporate culture.

Briefly, here’s what everyone should know in order to be selected for a job, be it his first or the top job.


TheĀ  way you present yourself is your personal advertisement to the outside world and these include:

  • Physical characteristics
  • Clothes
  • Grooming

First impressions are made by the way you dress, by your tone of voice and by your mannerisms. When you wear jeans and a T-shirt to an interview, you are telling the organisation that you cannot be bothered about their corporate dress code and you did not even take the trouble to dress appropriately for the occasion. But how do you know all this if you are not prepared for it during your three or more years in university?

This is the non-verbal skill that is so vital. We never realise that our customers get irritated or offended with our facial expressions. You can easily show your displeasure or even discrimination by your body language even without realising it. And you wonder where you went wrong. The elements of body language are:

  • Mannerisms
  • Posture
  • Gesture
  • Personal Space

Every country has their own interpretation of gestures and mannerisms. If you are a travelling executive, you should be aware of these gestures so that you do not offend. International protocol has often been breached because of someone’s insensitivity. With globalisation, this information is vital for our survival in the business world.

This is the element that distinguishes the leaders from the followers. Do you have what it takes to influence your team to achieve success? Are you a visionary? When you walk into a room, does conversation cease? These are what you must have to have presence:

  • Charisma
  • Confidence
  • Self-esteem

A charismatic person has personal charm as well as the power of influence or the ability to inspire people. They have developed confidence along the way and have very positive feelings about their ability to do things and to achieve success in whatever they do. They are disciplined, focused and know what they want to achieve.

This is the most vital ingredients for a success executive. It is what they do not teach you to do properly in schools or even in university. You must know:

  • Speaking style
  • Writing style
  • Listening style
  • Thinking style
  • Presentation style

Communication is undeniably the most powerful tool in a person’s repertoire of skills. It is wise to remember that the words you use often determine the success and failure of your interactions. This is a learned art. The language you choose to use must be understood by both parties; the choice of words, organisation of thought and message you convey must be received correctly.

This is what you earn when you are able to impress people with your skills and talents which include:

  • Visibility
  • Track record
  • Experience
  • Qualifications

Visibility is not a bad word. When you are the first to say hello, when you are the first to raise your hand to volunteer to do a job or a task, when you are able to complete projects given the deadline, when you do jobs error-free, when you learn new things and do them well, all these add up to a reputable track record, great experience and an awesome reputation. You can earn this reputation even as early as in primary school, not just at university.

Why do you think corporate organisations ask you for “extra-curricular” activities when they want to hire someone? They are not interested in “bookworms”, people who only knew how to pass exams. That is not what life is all about. You must have interacted with people, learned interpersonal skills and understand what it is to be sensitive to other people’s beliefs and cultures.

In many organisations, employees who are proactive get a lot of flak from their colleagues. They are jealous of their skills and try to put them down. It takes a very positively motivated person to withstand the abrasive remarks and peer pressure. It certainly takes guts to be smart and to learn new things every day and to create a style that suits you as an individual. It takes courage to be a leader.

The ultimate responsibility of education is to facilitate the development of young, not just academic, but living skills as well. And the responsibility of the business world is to give young people the opportunity to put into practice the skills learnt. And if you look at the list of elements required for personal development, academic qualifications are at the bottom of the list!


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