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  • Writer's pictureMel

What are these core human skills that we need to thrive?




Glad you asked! Off the top of my head, these skills include:


  • Discovering your values – what really matters to you, not what’s been imposed on you – and how to live your values.

  • Exploring and building on your character strengths.

  • Understanding how habits are formed and developing habits you want using behavioural science.

  • Disagreeing well, negotiating differences, and resolving conflict, in a way that actually strengthens a relationship rather than builds resentment.

  • Failing well. Do more of what the organisational psychologist Amy C. Edmondson would call intelligent failure.

  • Holding ourselves (and others) accountable, without shame getting in the way.

  • Repairing interpersonal ruptures.

  • Giving and receiving feedback in a productive, non-attacking, non-defensive manner.

  • The ability to hold multiple, seemingly dialectical truths at the same time, to think in terms of a continuum, and to not be seduced by simplistic, all-or-nothing, black-and-white thinking.

  • Emotional regulation, so that you can actually use the part of your brain that lets you think clearly in the first place.

  • Self-compassion, which is different from self-pity, self-esteem, and self-indulgence.

  • Savouring and integrating positive emotions in your daily life.

  • Discerning between what’s really happening in this situation in the present and what’s a hangover from the past. (The latter is still valid! They’re just two separate things that most likely require two separate actions.)

  • Understanding what healthy relationships look like and, perhaps more importantly, what unhealthy relationships look like, especially for those who grew up in families and/or cultures that normalise psychological manipulation, coercive control, and abuse.

  • Separating a person’s specific behaviours from their whole person and from what they claim.

  • Talking and relating to yourself with wise compassion, the way a good parent would. (And if you’re thinking that’s going to make you soft or be unrealistic, this will likely involve learning the science of self-compassion and motivation.)

  • Asking for help and identifying the appropriate kind of help.

  • Identifying your needs and communicating them gently but assertively. (And if you tend to put your needs last or feel needy, this will likely involve examining your relationship to yourself and myths/beliefs you have about what constitutes essential human needs.)

  • Getting in touch with your feelings and emotions, learning to interpret what they signal to you, and using them to inform – but not dictate – your actions. (And if you’re like most of my clients, this will likely involve really digging into what you may have grouped under guilt, stress, and anger.)

  • Overcoming misconceptions about and reluctance to enforce your boundaries. They’re about what you’re willing to accept and do yourself, not about demanding something from someone else.

  • Grieving properly, and often! It’s a life-enhancing skill and relevant to more types of loss than just deaths.

  • Being with “negative” emotions within yourself and others; not confusing comforting someone with minimising or invalidating someone’s pain.

  • Understanding healthy anger and how it’s different from rage and repression.

  • Holding on to the “I” within a “we” – to be interdependent rather than too independent or too dependent.

  • Recognising and confronting codependency – in simple terms, that’s when we’re being controlling in a “nice” way, when we’re compelled to help to ease our insecurity and anxiety, when we think we won’t be okay until the other person is okay by our definition.


It doesn’t matter if you’re an expert or a novice in how many or how few of these skills. I like to use the analogy of learning a language: there are different levels of fluency, and it’s not as though we need to be Shakespeare-like 100% of the time and in 100% of situations before we can do something worthwhile with the language.


Our coaching involves identifying and focusing on what’s most relevant to your goals and circumstances. Part of my job as a coach is to stretch you just enough each time. And if you ever think that I’m overloading you, I will always listen to you.


Also note that I’m a coach who may, with your permission, take on a mentoring stance at times, but I’m not a teacher. Our coaching sessions are not lectures where you download information from me. You’ll be learning in an experiential manner: you’ll be asked open-ended questions, participate in role-playing or visualisation or creative activities, see me model these skills, practise with me within the session, and generate ideas of what to apply when and in what areas of your life.


And as a bonus, my clients and I tend to have a lot of fun along the way! I love using my design training and creativity to build the right scaffold for your learning and development. Couldn’t you use a bit of a lift too?

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