There’s only 14 days left in this year

There’s only 14 days left in this year.

After a tumultuous 2020, it may be some time before the world gets back to any semblance of balance and order. What we do know is that there’s no predicting what might unfold. However things materialise over the next 12 months, having the soft skills to manage your physical and emotional responses will be key to ongoing health and wellbeing. It’s easier to ‘weather the storm’ when you are able to remain calm on the inside whatever’s happening on the outside. In the words of Epictetus,

We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them”.

Developing soft skills provides the tools to deal with events and challenges with more ease, grace and control.

Over the next week, I’ll be sharing 14 Soft Skills to support being resilient, whilst keeping focused and positive in 2021. In this first email series, I’ll be focusing on ‘Adaptability’.


When you are able to be ’adaptable’, it gives rise to freedom, movement, possibility, re-invention, the ability to adjust to different circumstances, to be nimble, to problem-solve and come up with creative solutions. The opposite is ‘inflexibility’, a rigidity that arises when there is resistance to change, to doing things differently, to considering the ‘what ifs’ and alternatives to moving forward. Such inflexibility creates stuck-ness and closes down the ability to explore infinite possibilities. Adaptability gives you more choices about how you can respond to any given situation which will ultimately give you more control over the result.

At Work

We can see adaptability at play in the workplace when a manager is ‘open to listening to alternative ways of achieving an outcome versus ‘my way or the highway’ approach; one entrepreneurial company I know that constantly look for ways to be different and better than their competitors tell their staff that “everything is on the table for discussion - nothing is set in stone”. In fact, during the pandemic, this adaptability has helped the company to thrive more than ever before. To go a step further, you rarely hear a successful leader say, “I can’t do that”. They are more likely to say “I haven’t found a way of doing that yet”.

At Home

At home we see the potential for adaptability, particularly at Christmas, when a family member reacts adversely to something you say, normally resulting in an argument. Having the ability to be ‘adaptable’ gives you more than one way to respond and be more in control of the outcome. Alternative responses could include using humour to diffuse a situation or to show patience and understanding and respond with kindness. The opposite is being a ‘one trick pony’ and ending up in the usual argument!

Ways to Practice being Adaptable

With work colleagues - when you find yourself disagreeing with someone, it’s normal to get irritated or ‘blamey’ because they don’t share your view. Instead of being triggered by what they say, ask some good questions such as;

  • can you say a bit more about that

  • can I check I have understood what you have said (this shows that you have listened and are checking you understand where they are coming from)

  • find common ground i.e. where are the similarities

  • look for win-win versus win/lose or trying to prove that you are right and they are wrong

The adaptability here is being able to adapt your responses to different people and personalities versus being triggered and reacting with one response.

Networking and Meetings - When you practice stepping into another persons shoes you can see life from their perspective. From this viewpoint, you can alterhow and what you communicate so that you can have more impactful conversations. For example, have you ever been speaking to someone and came away feeling like there was no connection or that you were on completely different pages. The reason for this is usually because one or both of you were speaking from your own perspective without understanding the other persons map of the world. The skill of making good connections with others is finding common ground and building rapport, ‘rapport’ being,

‘the art of reducing perceived differences between one another’.

This is an example of ‘behaviour adaptability’ and a key skill in influencing.

In the next email in this series, I will be discussing ‘why managing your mind needs to become a lifelong practice for health and wellbeing’.

I hope you find this helpful, and if you have any questions regarding soft skills development, particularly if you are a leader or people manager, just reply here and we’ll be happy to assist.

If you'd like to get this series direct into your mailbox, sign up to receive our newsletter below. 


@HR School


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