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5 soft skills to master in crisis.

2020 started out quite unexpectedly for me. During Sylvester night I lost sight of my cousin in a little village in Austrian Alps and found myself all alone without the keys to get into our apartment. Searching for a place to stay overnight at 3am on the 1st of January seemed a bit far-fetched to say the least. Surprisingly, this mission impossible was accomplished and by 4:30am I got a motel room. The air inside was very dusty which triggered my allergies so I couldn’t help but open the window to get some freezing cold fresh air. Long story short, bronchitis and 2 weeks in bed followed. I felt sad having to miss the first weeks in the office with my team, not being able to do my favorite group workouts and not seeing my friends. Little did I know about Covid-19 and the “new normal” which waited around the corner…

Painting by Dave Pollot

Current crisis brought us deep frustration, a period of exacerbation of contradictions and a pause in development of any sphere of human activity. Metaphors from around the world keep pouring out: this crisis is a shock; this crisis is a dead end; this crisis is a pathological state and yet there are so many fatal outcomes. Needless to say, everyone understands by now that the current crisis manifests complete destruction and even elimination of the running systems. The whole world is working on measures to anticipate and respond not only to saving lives from the virus, but also saving lives from poverty and mental disorders. The way out of such a crisis will be creation of a fundamentally new environment. 

Let us take a step back and consider it all from a personal perspective – how can you work on yourself to survive this crisis? Have you ever questioned yourself in any of the previous downfall periods – what helped you to go through it?

I want to share 5 soft skills that help me to go through the crisis:
Resilience
Responsibility
Communication
Stress management
Leadership

Below I will recommend some of my favorite TED talks, which will provide tools on how one can improve those 5 soft skills to help deal with the current situation.

Painting by  Dave Pollot

Resilience: the ability to utilize skills and strengths to recover from problems and challenges. Resilient people don’t have any magic remedy that makes them numb to emotional pain, just like others they are subject to depression and they do experience grief. What’s different in their coping mechanism is that their mental outlook allows them to work through such feelings and they are able to recover easier. One way to become resilient is to intentionally hold positive views of yourself and your abilities, think from the perspective “the glass is not half empty, but it is half full”. Just consider yourself as a fighter instead of considering yourself vulnerable. For more ideas on how to improve your resilience, I recommend you to watch The three secrets of resilient people by Lucy Hone.

Painting by  Dave Pollot

Responsibility: being in charge and not making actions which can affect other people. While the virus spreads so easily and social distancing is the only way to flatten the curve, it is very easy to spot weak people who are not able to comply with the new rules. Such behavior shows not only selfishness of a person, but also a high level of irresponsibility to one’s social circle. We all should understand that until we start living up to our social responsibilities instead of getting driven by our ego, we won’t be able to succeed. Check out a great talk on How to cure selfishness by Siri Helle.

Communication: listen to what others have to say and before you try to explain something to others, make sure you are the expert in that topic. While most communication happens online, there is no longer body language involved, thus only your confident voice can make a strong point. I really liked talk by Christopher Cummings on The dark magic of communication – How we manipulate others, a great deep dive into health-risk communication and how fear and other primal emotions can be used to manipulate crowds.

Painting by David Irvine

Stress management: holding emotions back is not easy. Once in panic, our mind comes up with the worst scenarios and it gets hard to think clearly. Kelly McGonigal explains quite well How to make stress your friend from the psychological point of view. I would just add that a physically fit body also helps to lower the stress level: a) you stay fit, b) you stay focused on exercising, c) you receive self praise for achieving results. From online fitness classes, jogging outside and cooking healthy to advancing your breathing techniques with Bodyflex and spending at least 15min per day  to meditate – it all can help you to bring down your stress levels.

Painting by David Irvine

Leadership: being a leader in crisis means that you are able to face reality instead of hiding from the problems. When a leader is strong the team will automatically be strong. I can just recommend you one of the great talks about Why good leaders make you feel safe by Simon Sinek.


My thanks goes to Veronika Harbachova to help proof reading the article. Hope you enjoyed reading it!

Very truly yours,

ILona B. Schukina

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