The Power of the Unseen: Exploring Underrated Life Skills

Photo by Aperture Vintage / Unsplash

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it's easy to overlook the simple yet powerful life skills that can greatly impact our personal and professional success. We're so focused on learning the latest tech skills or getting ahead in our careers that we forget about the basics. But the truth is, there are a number of underrated life skills that can be just as valuable, if not more so. In this post, we'll delve into some of these unsung heroes of personal development in no particular order and shed light on their importance in our lives.

Writing Emails

In an era dominated by instant messaging and social media, the skill of writing emails might seem old-fashioned. However, it remains a cornerstone of effective communication, especially in professional settings. From job applications to customer interactions, the ability to write emails that are clear, respectful, and to the point is an essential skill that deserves more recognition.

Here are some tips for writing effective emails that I learned over the years:

  • Use a clear subject line. The subject line should give the recipient a good idea of what the email is about.
  • Learn how to use CC and BCC. Finding the target audience for your email is crucial. In short, use CC for additional people whom you would like to see your email. Use BCC for large email lists.
  • Tailor your email to the recipient. Use a different tone and style depending on who you are writing to. For example, if you are writing to a professor or a manager, you would use a different tone and style than if you were writing to a peer.
  • Be clear and concise. Get to the point quickly and avoid using jargon or technical terms unless the content demands them.
  • Be polite and respectful. Even if you are writing to someone you disagree with, it is important to be polite and respectful.
  • Use a table or a chart if your email contains numerical data. It helps structure the content, makes it easy to consume, and eliminates trivial information.
  • Use a friendly greeting and closing. A friendly greeting and closing will help to make your email more personal and approachable.
  • Proofread your email before sending it. Make sure there are no errors in grammar or spelling. Many times, some errors and typos catch my eye after clicking Send, so I set a 30-second delay timer for sending my emails to make those last-minute changes.

Putting Yourself in Others' Shoes

The ability to genuinely understand the thoughts, feelings, and views of another person can lead to stronger relationships and effective conflict resolution. By putting yourself in others' shoes, you gain insights into their perspectives. This doesn't mean that you have to agree with them, but it does mean that you try to understand where they're coming from. This skill is especially crucial in today's diverse and interconnected society.

Here are a few things you can do to improve your ability to put yourself in others' shoes:

  • As a first step, understand that it takes practice and patience to learn this skill. Allow yourself and others to make mistakes along the way.
  • Try not to judge the other person or their perspective. This opens a safer space for all the involved people to express their points freely.
  • Try to see things from their perspective. Imagine what it would be like to be in their shoes. What are their goals? What are their motivations? What are their needs?
  • Listen actively. Pay attention to what the other person is saying, both verbally and nonverbally.
  • Be respectful. Even if you don't agree with them, respect their right to their own opinion.
  • Ask questions. This shows that you are interested in understanding their perspective.

Being Open to changing our Opinions and Views

In an age of echo chambers and polarization, the skill of being open to changing opinions and views is a sign of intellectual growth and adaptability. When we are open to changing our opinions and views, we are willing to consider new information and perspectives. We are also willing to admit when we are wrong. It takes humility and self-awareness to recognize that you don't have all the answers and that your perspective can evolve with new information and experiences.

Some points to consider to develop this skill:

  • "What if I'm wrong?." Ask this question as much as you want. This will open up your mind to the possibility of analyzing a different viewpoint.
  • Understand that it's okay to change your opinions. This does not mean you should keep switching opinions often. If you base your opinions on facts, the number of changes is reduced.
  • Analyze the facts. Be open to keeping or changing your views based on facts.
  • Listen to the opposite side of the argument. Try to understand why they say what they say.
  • Iterate as much as you want. It's absolutely okay to want more information and to reserve your opinion until you get more information.
  • Most importantly, it's also okay to not have an opinion on something. It doesn't make you a bad person. It just makes you neutral.

Communicating in Simple Language Effectively

Not everyone is a natural communicator. However, it is an essential skill for success in both personal and professional life. The art of communicating complex ideas in simple language is a skill that can bridge gaps and create connections. It is important to communicate in simple language that everyone can understand. Often, the complex language we use can alienate others who are not familiar with the subject matter.

By mastering the ability to explain concepts in a straightforward manner, you can make your ideas accessible to a broader audience and foster better understanding. If you truly understand something, you should be able to explain it in simple terms. If you are unable do that, it's an indicator that you should better understand it yourself first.

Here are some tips for communicating in simple language:

  • Know your audience, and try to adjust the complexity of the information accordingly.
  • Use simple words and phrases, and short sentences.
  • Be concise and specific. Avoid using vague language.
  • Use active voice instead of passive voice.
  • Use examples to illustrate your points.
  • Ask questions to make sure you are being understood.

Personal Hygiene

While personal hygiene is something we learn from a young age, its significance often fades into the background as we grow older. Maintaining good personal hygiene is not only a matter of physical health but also a reflection of respect for yourself and others. The simple act of keeping clean can boost your confidence, create positive impressions, and contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

There are a few basic things you can do to maintain good personal hygiene:

  • Shower or bathe regularly.
  • Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day. Watch your breath.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Use a deodorant/cologne.
  • Trim your nails.
  • Keep your hair clean and styled.


Consistency is the ability to do something repeatedly and reliably. It is the unsung hero behind many success stories. Consistency deserves another blog post, but it's important to be included in this. If there is something called the secret of success, I would gladly put consistency as the top contributor to success. Whether it's a fitness routine, a creative project, or personal development goals, consistency is the driving force that turns aspirations into achievements.

Here are a few things that worked for me:

  1. Develop habits that align with your objective.
  2. Develop systems that enable you to build those habits.
  3. Follow the 2-minute rule. Reduce your habits to the smallest possible component (2 minutes, for example) and show up daily. Showing up daily is more important than the duration.
  4. Figure out the why. You should be able to point out why you are doing it and remember it every day.
  5. A book that helped me understand the importance of consistency is Atomic Habits by James Clear. Try to read the book, or you can find my summary of the book here - Atomic Habits by James Clear - A Summary.

Active Listening

While hearing is a passive act, active listening is a skill that requires effort and intention. It involves not only hearing the words but also understanding the emotions, context, and underlying messages conveyed. Active listening fosters better relationships, reduces misunderstandings, and promotes empathy, making it a crucial skill in both personal and professional interactions. Active Listening is one of the most difficult things to do in this age of short attention. However, it is a skill worth developing, as it's a force multiplier for almost all aspects of our lives.

The seven underrated life skills discussed in this blog post are just a few of the many skills that are important for success in life. They are the backbone of our personal and interpersonal successes. They may not be as glamorous as some of the other skills that are often emphasized, but they are just as important. They shape the way we communicate, connect with others, and navigate the complexities of modern life. From the seemingly mundane practice of writing effective emails to the profound art of empathy and changing our opinions, these skills deserve our attention and cultivation. Have a great week ahead. Thanks for reading. Cheers!

Vivek Arvind

Vivek Arvind

Santa Clara, CA