When you think of the business skills that can help you with finding a well-paying job, advancing in your career, or growing your small business, you probably think of taking formal business classes in accounting, management, finance, and marketing. While, of course, these hard skills are necessary to excel in the world of business, if you think outside the box, you might be surprised to discover some other, softer skill sets, that can prove to be highly useful, too.  

Let’s take a closer look at four skills that can help you become even better at business: 

1. Improve your ability to solve problems. 

How do you solve problems? Often you might simply rely on common sense or intuition. When it comes to thorny problems, you might research and analyze data to discover some viable options. While these informal approaches can solve a surprisingly large number of problems, they are useless when you have baffling problems, which call for a more structured approach. Moreover, intractable problems often happen to be the most important ones to solve, and they may be needed to be solved efficiently and effectively to save your business projects. Go Lean Six Sigma Training & Certification programs will teach you how to solve the toughest business problems.  

2. Improve your public speaking skills. 

When sharing his life experiences, either during interviews or at his big shareholders’ meeting, Warren Buffett is often known to reference attending Dale Carnegie’s speaking course as one of the turning points in his career. Although a gifted analyst, he was introverted, finding it difficult to articulate his insights to others. By learning how to speak to a large group, he learned how to clearly express complex ideas in a way that would make them intelligible to other people. 

In your own case, by taking a course in how to speak in public, you will do more than build your self-confidence. You will also learn how to structure your thoughts in a way that makes the most sense to the largest number of people.  You will learn stellar communication skills.

3. Improve your ability to build rapport with people. 

Although a sharp mind is a wonderful thing to have in business, it often tends to makes it difficult to get along with others. In fact, the more you study and analyze information, the more deeply you tend to think. However,  the more you know, the harder you find it to get along with people who think superficially. As a result, you tend to feel impatient with them or keep things to yourself. You either end up becoming a bad boss or an intolerant co-worker. 

However, in business, you need to connect with all kinds of people in all walks of life. By cultivating simple virtues like patience, tolerance, good humor, and a helpful predisposition, you’ll go a long way in building rapport with people. How do you learn these somewhat nebulous soft skills? Usually, the best way is by associating with people who already have them and observing how easily they connect with others. 

4. Improve your ability to think in a concise, sequential way. 

Why is it that people like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, who have excellent computer skills, also happen to be excellent at building billion-dollar businesses? It’s because they think in a concise, sequential way. They automatically think in terms of heuristics and algorithms. When you listen to them talking about business issues during interviews, you notice that this is how they often structure their thought processes. 

Heuristic thinking is taking mental shortcuts that make it easy to make quick, fairly accurate decisions. By contrast, most deep thinking requires you to spend a great deal of time researching and analyzing information. In business, you often don’t have the time or resources to think as deeply as you might like. Meanwhile, algorithmic thinking is arriving at a solution by taking clear and definite steps to get there. So, while you may not need to learn how to do any programming for your line of work, it is still useful to learn how to write code. 

In conclusion, besides learning the hard skills necessary to do well in business, you should also think about improving your ability to solve problems, improving your rhetorical and public speaking skills, improving your ability to get along better with people, and improving your ability to think more like a computer programmer. 

By Eddy

Eddy is the editorial columnist in Business Fundas, and oversees partner relationships. He posts articles of partners on various topics related to strategy, marketing, supply chain, technology management, social media, e-business, finance, economics and operations management. The articles posted are copyrighted under a Creative Commons unported license 4.0. To contact him, please direct your emails to [email protected].