Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Sunday | February 1, 2009
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Skills that will come in handy
Amitabh Sharma, Features Coordinator

EVERYONE SEEMS to be walking a thin line these days as job cuts and redundancies take place. But, as an employee facing what some might see as adversity, it is critical to take control and not to get sucked into the circumstances.

For any change to happen, we need to change ourselves and move with the times. A good way of keeping up to date is to arm yourself with some 'soft' skills. These will help you, no matter what your job profile is.

"Soft skills or 'touchy-feely' skills primarily deal with the psychological areas of the business. There are also business skills which are a combination of soft and technical skills," explains Ian Bailey-Harris, director of sales, New Horizons Computer Learning Centre, Kingston.

"Business skills," he elaborates, "are skills that allow you and your team to excel at the workplace."

Some of the skills seem basic and have been emphasised time and time again, but they are very critical when it comes to getting that edge in the workplace.

"Focusing on general business skills helps develop a well-rounded individual who can more easily adapt to the changing landscape of today's business world," Bailey-Harris says.

Business skills

Here is an overview of some business skills that you should seek to acquire:

Business Etiquette

Understand the concepts of business etiquette and learn how to apply the rules in a typical business situations. This will help you to create a professional image and maintain positive office relationships. In addition, you will also be able to follow proper etiquette in meetings, telephone conversations and at formal events.

Business Writing

Learn how to use writing to effectively communicate information to your target audience. A course in business writing will improve your communication skills - reporting and composing letters, emails.

Practical Leadership

You can learn practical skills while on the job. New managers and individuals seeking to develop or enhance their leadership abilities should have a good practical skills set.

By acquiring this skill set, you can make the transition from individual contributor to that of a leader and develop an effective team. You can also identify skills required to focus and lead your team to achieve good business results.

Grammar Skills

As basic as it may seem, grammatical errors send a wrong message about your skills and abilities, however glorious your résumé might look. You should be able to review the rules of grammar, identify common mistakes and refine business writing styles.

Time Management

Learn how to effectively manage time by identifying goals, creating daily plans, recognising obstacles, saving time, increasing productivity and organising your office.

Customer Service

It is imperative that you are in sync with the effective delivery of customer services. You should be able to identify customer types, set customer expectations and maintain a positive attitude when working with different types of customers.

Finance Essentials

A course in finance in business covers financial roles and responsibilities in business organisations, discusses the purpose of financial reports and documents, as well as how to read them.

By doing such a course, you will be able to describe the relationship between business and finance.

Read financial reports and documents so that you can make informed business decisions.

Conflict Resolution

In these testing times, managers should be well versed in understanding and implementing strategies that would help to manage conflict effectively. You should be able to develop skills to assess a conflict and monitor your reaction to the conflict.

You will also be able to utilise effective communication techniques to manage conflict in a proactive manner and resolve conflicts through identifying their source, and determining and implementing the best solutions.


These are skill sets that one can acquire at any point through academic institutions, adult education centres and vocational training centres. And if certification is not your objective, you can check online resources or read self-help books. It would also be a good idea to attend seminars and conferences so you are kept abreast of what is happening.


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