5 Business Skills They Don’t Teach You In School

Education isn’t everything, it sometimes helps, but it can’t always guarantee the path you’ll be taking. School is an invaluable part of life, where you create friendship groups and grow as a person, but there are many things that can’t be taught in the classroom. Here are some business skills you won’t learn at school!

#1 How to talk to people
An important aspect of the world of work is talking to people appropriately, from the first interview to talking with co-workers, being polite, engaging and professional is important. At school you don’t often have to worry that speaking in the wrong manner to your teachers could cost you your education, but you have to be careful about how you talk with people in a business setting. Even if you get on with your co-workers outside of work limit the friendly banter to outside of the office and those private whatsapp chats. The other thing you won’t learn in school is how to make professional phone calls, how to introduce yourself and give information in a calm and professional way. For most of us, phone calls with strangers incite panic, but with an easy formula, business calls become easy.

#2 Email and internet etiquette
Another form of etiquette that school probably won’t teach you, is how to compile a professional and polite email. A lot rides on the way you craft emails, who you CC (courtesy copy) or BCC (blind courtesy copy) in and how you introduce yourself and sign off. You need to be aware of your internet etiquette while at work also, don’t browse social media during work hours and don’t click anything with the NSFW (not safe for work) tag. Also be aware that your computer and emails will be monitored by the company.

#3 How to take criticism
While working for a company, it’s normal to get feedback that you might not agree with. In order to personally develop in a company your higher ups may give you constructive criticism or let you know of any issues that your co-workers have brought up. In school, you learn that criticism is personal, and the criticism you get from teachers often falls on deaf ears. In the work environment you have to learn not to take this criticism to heart, be polite and approachable while you receive it and most importantly make a noticeable effort to improve. Read our article on taking criticism well if this is something you struggle with.

#4 Negotiation
Never before have you had to demand something without feeling selfish and overwhelmed. In the world of business, if you don’t ask you don’t get. You need to be persuasive and know what you’re worth, negotiating comes into play a lot in the business world, from negotiating your salary to securing a new deal or partnership. You might even have to negotiate your employment responsibilities or a task that you and your co-workers want to approach differently. Being comfortable with asking for things and negotiating without losing your cool is an essential skill for the business world. Check out these mistakes you might make when negotiating your salary to brush up on your skills and avoid any future embarrassment!

#5 Being accountable
Chances are during school you’ll have left some homework undone or shrugged some responsibilities off without much of a hitch, in school everybody in your class has the same responsibilities and you can rely on your friends to help you out when you don’t understand something or have left something incomplete. In the working world you need to be accountable for everything, all your responsibilities, the amount of time you spend on your work tasks and the way you present yourself to the world every day. It’s hard to know that you’ll have to hold your hands up and take the blame if anything goes wrong because in school you can usually casually shrug it off and get on with the rest of your day.

If you want to get a heads up on some of these essential skills all you need to do is look for local events or online classes, there might be volunteering opportunities that teach you about phone etiquette or an online class that will help you craft the perfect email. Life is all about learning, and not all of it happens in the classroom!


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  • ailyn

    and pretty soon on the list: how to spell. I am appalled at how badly the new co-workers are at spelling everyday words

  • The Curvy Girl

    Great posting! I will be sharing this at work!

  • Ola

    I think some things that take a bit of time until you know how to handle them. For me it was very helpful to do some internships during school holidays so I feel today comfortable talking to strangers.

  • Monique Thomas

    Great tips! I have always had excellent communication skills, but I have never been comfortable with hard nosed negotiations. Thanks for the tips!

  • Kristy as Giftie Etcetera

    How to dress! ;)