What are Common Skills? | Prof.M.S.Rao

People may have heard of soft skills and hard skills. Perhaps very few people may have heard of Common Skills. When one of my favorite students, and a bright student, G.Amulya Reddy, III year IT branch in Vijay Rural Engg. College, Nizamabad asked 'Sir, What do you mean by Common Skills?' I was little surprised to hear and developed curiosity to find out what these skills actually are? Initially I thought that these were the skills and abilities, which were common among all individuals. But I decided to know fully and then referred a few books and websites. Because it is always my in-built nature to know the things in depth as I am basically an inquisitive person.

We talk about common sense in daily life. That means the common qualities, which are expected out of human beings, based on a particular cultural background. When people make silly and folly mistakes, which are not expected out of them, we usually question 'Don't you have common sense?' Likewise, common skills are the skills and abilities, which are connecting and running through a common thread that are fundamentally essential for the survival and success of the people. These skills become the core skills for human beings and we can call it as core skills or key skills. Since these skills ensure survival and success of the people we may call them as survival skills and success skills. Having known what are common skills it is desirable to explain in brief what are these common skills. Again there are plenty of common skills but I would like to take TEN key skills, which are common.


Communication skill: Communication skill is the key of all skills. We all communicate from womb to tomb. Man can not survive without communication. He communicates either by verbal language or by non-verbal language or by the combination of both. Under verbal language falls speaking skills, writing skills, listening skills and reading skills. And under the non-verbal language falls the body language, which is also known as kinesics and voice modulation. The ability and the skill to receive and reciprocate one’s feelings and emotions by all these elements are known as communication skill.

Creativity: All individuals must possess the ability to create and recreate. Many inventions have surfaced because of this ability. Individuals should not only learn the things but also be able to create new things based on their learning and observation. And for all this, creativity becomes again another core skill.

Career development: Managing and developing one's own career is essential so as to survive and succeed in life. There could be many personal, social and professional compulsions. When one is able to develop one's career, naturally there will be all round development of personality.

Team spirit: Ability to work in teams is necessary. When people learn to develop team spirit by working in teams, the results can be faster and smarter. If numerically one plus one is two, in team spirit one plus one is more than two because of the synergy in strength.

Technology: This is the world of technology where technology is dominating the world. Not knowing or not learning technology will lead to many complications and implications. People should know the basics of technology and should equally know the application of the same. For instance, now a day, Internet has become common thing. If people know how to make use of the minimum computer technology they will know how to survive and succeed better.

Time management: Although rapid changes in technology have brought many comforts, it has made life more complicated and complex. People do not find time and it is often heard every where that ‘I don’t have time’. God gifted us with 24 hours of time a day. Every one should know how to manage time effectively and efficiently. Setting priorities by categorizing as A, B, C, D & E can prove to be beneficial. A stand for the most important activities which if not addressed will have far-reaching negative implications. B stands for important activities and if not executed will have minor negative fall out. C stands for the activities, which have to be addressed but not having any significance. D stands for the activities, which can be addressed if time permits. And last but not the least is the E, which stands for insignificant activity. If addressed it is okay or else it can be sent to trash. So setting priorities can save time, energy and precious resources.

Sociability: Aristotle aptly said, ‘Man is a social animal’. Man can’t live alone; he strives for affiliation and social acceptance. A few people found to be socially inept. In such case, it becomes a liability. For the success and survival of the people it is essential to develop the trait of sociability. Therefore, this skill becomes the core skill and one of the fundamental features of the common skills.

Self-development: People should learn to manage and develop themselves. It is inherent quality hidden in all human beings to grow. Every one wants to grow from birth to death in all faculties. Only when one develops himself he can develop others. Therefore, managing and developing of oneself becomes a core skill.

Numerical ability: The ability to have knowledge of numerical ability is a must. Having numerical bent of mind is essential in daily life. Not only having this ability but also to have the ability to apply, as well in the real world is essential.

Problem solving: WHO has made problem solving as the 8th life skill. Everyone confronts problems from birth to death. Problems are part of life and every problem, at times, leads to an opportunity. Man becomes tough only when he faces problems because every problem teaches some lessons in life. ‘A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner’ goes the saying. In fact when the going gets tough the tough gets going. Hence the problem solving becomes the tenth most crucial skill amongst all common skills.

There are number of other skills which belong and become the part of common skills. For instance cognitive i.e. the ability to think creatively, critically and analytically. Empathy - that means the ability to get into the shoes of other person and think. Research i.e. the ability to go in depth in a field or activity for creating base for further and future studies. Personality development and likewise the list of common skills go on in length.


People do get confused with common skills, hard skills and soft skills. There are both thin and thick lines that separate all these three concepts. Soft skills are the skills that are essential for the survival at the corporate world that enhances employability. Anything other than domain knowledge is also known as soft skill. These are also known as people skills and also known as Emotional Intelligence. Soft skills are specialized skills at the work place more on a professional plane. Where as the common skills are the key skills, which are simple skills, related to personal and social life. The hard skills are just the domain knowledge and are related to the subjective knowledge. Hard skills deal with 5 W’s such as What, Why, Which, Where and When. The soft skills deal with 1H i.e. How? If what you have become the hard skills, how you present the same becomes the soft skills. All the three skills are interrelated and if interwoven makes an individual highly successful personality.


What common sense is to human sense, the common skills are to human skills. Both hard skills and soft skills can be compared with two layers of the earth with lower layer being hard skills, surface layer being soft skills. And deep within the core of the earth being the common skills. And also common skills are known as core skills which become the infrastructure, then hard skills are known as domain skills which become the superstructure and finally the soft skills are known as surface skills which becomes the superior structure.


About the Author

The author, Prof.M.S.Rao, is working as an Academic Guide in ICFAI University. He delivers ‘Guest Lecture’ upon request. He talks over All India Radio. He is a professional writer and trainer in soft skills, communication skills, personality development, and motivation. Number of articles has been published in various global websites, magazines and journals. He can be reached at email: profmsr7@yahoo.com)

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