‘People Skills’ – Hereditary or Learned?

What are 'people skills'

Abilities, the raw potentials, are something you were born with or are something you have gained via imprinting as a result of your upbringing, education and/or environment. Some people have the potential for analytical thinking, creativity or intuition, which are not thought of as skills to be learned explicitly. They are, to a varying degree, already in us. Throughout our entire life these skills can be sharpened or improved with training and practice provided the motivation to do so is part of the formula.

Capabilities are skills we can learn and practise. This includes presentation, sales and leadership techniques. If there is a certain basic ability, it is much easier to gain these skilled capabilities.

An example: Having a musical talent makes it easier to learn to play the piano, whereas someone without musicality will experience difficulties learning this skill. Musicality is the ability; playing the piano is the capability. Generally, everyone is able to learn to play the piano, but for a career as a concert pianist, musicality is necessary.

Sales is a learned capability. Everyone can learn to sell if several selling steps are recognised and implemented over and over again. A person with the ability to empathise will benefit because he/she can put himself/herself in the customer’s place, recognising the needs and motives. However, sales competence is learnable to a high rate.

Conclusion: Certain abilities alleviate the need to acquire certain capabilities. Abilities, however, can be sharpened and increased through training, whereas capabilities can be simply learned. It pays to invest in your own development and in the development of your employees.

How to gain ‘people skills’

  • Learn the techniques and methods.
    e.g. the steps of the selling process, communication models, presentation techniques, methods for organisation planning.
  • Change your thinking processes.
    It is possible to expand your skills by thinking positively and visualising your goals. In doing this, even fear, for instance the fear to talk in front of an audience, can be overcome.
  • Train, train, train!
    Remember all the capabilities you have learned through training throughout your life – things which are a matter of course for you now: reading, writing, driving a car, riding a bicycle. In the same way, you can overcome boundaries in any other areas.



To explore and expand the capabilities of you and your people, ask for our management training.

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