4 Skills that Help You to Succeed at Work that Have Nothing to Do With Your IQ or EQ

Joanne Poh


The recipe for success at work can seem like a no-brainer—be hardworking, a self-starter, creative and take the initiative, blah blah blah. But if you’ve ticked all the right boxes and still aren’t progressing as fast as you might like, you might be lacking a few essential skills that nobody realises are needed to help you get ahead in the rat race. These skills have nothing to do with your IQ or EQ but can give you a huge boost at the workplace.


Ability to get by on little sleep

You only have so many hours in a day, and as long hours at work are the norm in Singapore, you’ll need all the help you can get to squeeze as much as you can out of your day. If you work 12 hours a day, in order to get 8 hours of sleep you only have 4 hours outside of work, most of which get eaten up by commuting and meals. Clearly, the amount of stuff you can accomplish in one day is drastically limited by how much sleep you need.

If you can consistently sleep only 5 or 6 hours and feel okay, pulling 12 hour days at the office shouldn’t faze you too much and can be a huge asset, as you’ll be able to live a balanced lifestyle and work late nights at the office without falling prey to illness and exhaustion. On the other hand, those who need their full 8 hours of sleep are at a distinct disadvantage.


Touch typing

Time is of the essence when you’re at work, especially if you’re saddled with the workload of a small army and want to make it home in time for dinner. Being able to touch type is a great asset, especially if you’re a desk-bound office worker, as it basically means that almost all your work-related tasks, from replying to emails to drafting documents, happens much faster.

If you’ve never learnt to touch-type, it’s not too late. Download Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, which is available for free online, and is one of the most popular touch typing programmes of all time. Many of us who touch type today used the programme as a kid.


General knowledge

You don’t necessarily need to be a walking encyclopaedia, but at least make sure you know generally what’s going on in the world and avoid making any gaffes. Displaying extreme ignorance can make a huge dent in your superiors’ assessment of your capabilities.

For instance, if your boss talks about the day’s front page news, being totally clueless as to what’s happened reflects very badly on you. You don’t need to read the entire Straits Times from cover to cover, but at least scan the headlines each day, and keep abreast of news that affects your job or industry.


Growth mindset

Psychologists have identified two conflicting types of mindsets that are inculcated in youth. The growth mindset is the attitude that aptitude, intelligence and skill can be developed through effort. The fixed mindset is the attitude that aptitude and intelligence are fixed. Parents who acknowledge the fruits of their kids’ hard work tend to cultivate in them a growth mindset, while those who praise their kids for their intelligence tend to create a fixed mindset. A growth mindset has been linked to increased motivation and achievement, and this translates to performance at the workplace.

Even if you currently operate along the lines of a fixed mindset, it is completely possible to adjust your attitude with the right dose of awareness. Just be aware that your mindset can have a profound importance on how well you perform and how you are appraised by your superiors.

What skills have boosted your performance at work? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.