Marketing and Communications Executive and Forbes Communications Council Member
Originally posted on Forbes.com
During INBOUND, a recent marketing conference I attended, Former First Lady Michelle Obama discussed the importance of having grace in all aspects of your career when dealing with difficult situations. People are often judged on how they handle stressful situations during times of change. No matter what level you have reached in the workforce, if you break from grace it will always follow you. You can be the hardest working individual in the organization, but you will be seen as someone who failed under pressure.
Outside of maintaining strong poise, below are four soft skills to master in today’s workforce.
1. Embrace failure.
Failing can be one of the best lessons learned in marketing and business as long as you learn how to accept responsibility and learn fast from what made you fail. One of my most successful campaigns came from a team failure. We were too close to the product and were asking consumers to do something they weren't comfortable doing: upload a picture of themselves to an interactive billboard in Times Square. People would initiate the process, but then drop off when we asked them to upload an image. After recognizing this data, we started asking users why they didn't want to upload photos and determined that they were too self-conscious for a billboard. We then took the study and created a top-performing campaign for Dove, "Sketches," all based on the data that came out of failing the first campaign.
Everyone fails and mistakes happen; it's how you handle the failure that determines your career path and growth. Those who fail with grace and learn fast will rise above those who are "perfect" because they have learned more than those who have never failed.
2. Embrace empathy.
Work can be stressful, and with the pressures we face today to produce more work with smaller teams, it is imperative to remember that we are all human. You never know what someone is going through, but if you always treat people as you would like to be treated -- no matter what stressful situation you may be in -- you will become a more productive team in the long run. We often spend more time at work than we do with our families, friends and loved ones. If we treat each other with empathy, we will build a stronger bond and help each other in times of need.
3. Embrace knowledge.
In today's digital age, how people purchase and consume media changes on a daily basis. You simply cannot stay stagnant on current principles and beliefs on how to conduct business. Whether you are a marketer, teacher or chef, how you did business 20 years ago is vastly different from how you do business today. Frankly, how you did business five years ago is different from today. If you aren't learning, you aren't understanding who your audience is and how they behave. You will ultimately set yourself and your business up for failure. Even the brightest CEOs of Silicon Valley are always making learning a priority.
4. Embrace fear.
Staying complacent in both your career and with a brand can be the death of a campaign as your competitors become more innovative and gain market share from you. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Challenge yourself and challenge the status quo to excel further than where you started.
If you can master even one of these skills, you will prepare yourself for handling situations no matter where you are in your career. Going back to Mrs. Obama, if you can maintain grace as you navigate these skills, you will not only be a strong individual but one who is looked to when the next challenge is up for the taking.
What other skills would you include on this list?