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Soft Skills and Etiquette

1.   Five Critical Skills for New Employees
Author: Clare Dygert,
April 2, 2011.

As someone that occasionally acts as an interviewer for students who are preparing for their job search, Dygert has recognized the top five skills that new employees need in order to be successful.

  1. Ability to collaborate and communicate digitally.

    It is important to be comfortable with the technology used in the work place. Using technology to collaborate, present ideas, build off of ideas presented by others, and to know when to abandon your own ideas for better ones is the most efficient way to work.

  2. Solve problems.

    Often, people will wait for help, or for miracles to happen when problems arise. It is critical for individuals to be able to correctly define the problem, and break it down into parts. Solutions should be planned, proposed, and used.

  3. Be able to both tell a compelling story using multimedia tools, and to deconstruct and interpret a compelling story using multimedia tools.

    Instead of relying on graphic designers to use and interpret multimedia tools, each person must be able to deconstruct and interpret the stories others tell. It is rare for individuals in the work place to remain solely in their field; all departments now merge and communicate to increase their chances of success.

  4. Validate a proposed solution.

    Often the easiest, least expensive solution is chosen. Frequently, the best solution is neither the cheapest nor easiest. It is critical to be able to see the big picture with each proposed solution.

  5. Negotiate.

    Employees frequently adopt an all or nothing attitude. Finding a reasonable middle ground that will preserve the most important attributes, features, or qualities of both sides is essential to career success.


2.   Gratitude as a Business Strategy
Author: Howie Jacobson November 22, 2011

It is easy to focus on things that don’t meet expectations, but when something goes right we typically don’t notice because it was expected.

Employees want to see that their efforts are being noticed, and that they matter to the company they work for. It is common for companies to show appreciation through typical mass gestures, as opposed to individualistic and real gratitude.

As an employee or manager showing gratitude is contagious. Having gratitude float around the work place is a positive benefit to companies.

For example,

  • Creating an action plan to communicate your thanks will show that you are sincere
  • Be honest, unselfish, and respectfully acknowledge another human being
  • When people feel noticed, they work harder
  • Communicating gratitude can bring in profits

Jacobson, H. (2011, Nov. 22). Gratitude As A Business Strategy. Retrieved from:

3.   Why Appreciation Matters So Much
Author: Tony Schwartz
Harvard Business Review. Jan. 23, 2012

People create value when they feel valued, Schwartz explains in his article. This is why expressing appreciation for others’ work is important in increasing workplace productivity.

There are many reasons why negative reactions are common:

  • It is easier to provide criticism and negative responses.
  • We are not fluent in the language of positive emotions.
  • We have not spent much time practicing heartfelt emotion.
  • We don’t recognize the impact of negative emotions until later.

Do less harm.

Often, behavior can be improved through positive criticism.

Start appreciating yourself first.

Showing appreciation towards others may be difficult for some, so practice speaking positively to yourself first.

Recognize what others are doing right.

Consider what others have done that are positive and make notice of what are important to the team and the company.

Be appreciative

Leave a handwritten note, e-mail, or state your appreciation in person. Any positive comment will provide an uplifting experience.

Schwartz, T. (2012, January 23). Why Appreciation Matters So Much. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: