5 key - but neglected - skills for success

The longer you're in the workforce, the more you realize the importance of skills and abilities that you simply can't learn in school.

Communication

speech bubble communication

You may have the greatest ideas in the company, but no one will know that if you can't communicate them.

It's important to be clear and professional in your communications, whether that's over email, in meetings, or one-on-one. Observe colleagues and superiors whom you admire to see if you can learn and adopt their most effective communications techniques. Take care in composing emails to your boss, colleagues and clients; don't get lazy simply because of the communications medium.

"The ability to effectively communicate really is the bedrock to developing critical relationships within the organization itself and sets the tone for development and movement," says Michael Steinerd, director of recruiting for Indeed.

To be an effective communicator, it's just as important to listen and ask questions as it is to put forth your own ideas. Listening carefully to your audience will help you determine whether your ideas are being understood, and gauge how well your goals jibe with the interests of the people you're addressing.

Prepare in advance, and practice what you're going to say. "When you get on the phone with a client, when you go into an internal meeting, when you are talking to your boss in a performance review, preparation is really key to getting your point across," says Peggy Klaus, an executive coach and author of The Hard Truth About Soft Skills. You want to develop "the ability to speak with both warmth and strength, using both parts of your personality to be dynamic and impactful."

Don't shy away from difficult conversations: They're an important part of effective communication and are better tackled directly rather than avoided.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated October 29 2013 03:14 PM ET
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