A Comprehensive Guide to Importance of Life Skills
Life skills mean any skills one needs to manage the activities and challenges of everyday life effectively and efficiently. As per dictionary definition, life skills are defined as abilities and capabilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable humans to deal effectively and efficiently with the demands and challenges of life. Hence, the importance of life skills is evident.
As per UNICEF, life skills are defined as “a behavior change or behavior development approach designed to address a balance of three areas: knowledge, attitude, and skills”.
In a nutshell, life skills are fundamentally those abilities that help to promote mental well-being and competence in individuals of all ages as they face the realities of life with time.
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UNICEF, UNESCO, and WHO have listed the ten core life skill strategies and techniques. They are:
- Decision making
- Creative thinking
- Critical thinking
- Interpersonal relationship
- Good and effective communication
- Management of stress
- Management of emotions
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Let’s have an overview of these 10 life skills.
1. Problem-Solving skill:
As one goes ahead in life, problems of different scales and magnitude come across in one’s life. Finding a solution to a given problem in life is indeed one of the most important life skills. Certain steps can be followed to inculcate and develop this life skill. These steps are –
- Understanding the nature of the problem
- Finding out the onset of the problem
- Factors that aggravate the problem
- Different possible solutions for the given problem
- How to cull the best feasible solution to a problem
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2. Decision Making:
As said by everyone, it is difficult to make a decision. One has to accept the fact that every decision has its pros and cons. Nothing in this world is perfect. However, it is our perception and the way we handle our life and its problems that makes our life perfect for us.
Hence, before taking a decision, one has to jolt down the probable pros and cons, loss and gain, and the risks involved while taking a decision. Sometimes an individual can’t make the decision alone. In such cases, the person need not hesitate to consult the appropriate people.
3. Creative Thinking:
Following an established protocol is not the solution for every problem. One needs to be innovative and creative and try to explore new ideas & methods.
4. Critical Thinking:
Another life skill is to learn to evaluate and critically look at an issue and understand the information, situation, requirement, or recommendations made by others. In other words, one should not blindly accept or get carried away by others’ statements or pressures.
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One ought to be well-aware of one’s mettle and pitfalls. One can try to have a SWOT analysis for understanding strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. When one is aware of oneself, it is easier to make decisions and solve the problem of life. Thus, appropriate Self Esteem should be present in an individual as inferiority and superiority feelings about self are harmful in the journey of life.
One of the most important life skills in today’s life is empathy. One needs to understand the views, experiences, and expressions of other people with sympathy and empathy. Before talking to a person, one should put himself in another’s shoes and react accordingly.
7. Interpersonal Relationship:
One needs to develop the skills of establishing and maintaining an appropriate, satisfactory, and friendly relationship with the people one interacts with. It is also required to learn skills to manage hostile and troublesome people by keeping the required distance. Learning to say “NO” is an inevitable life skill.
8. Good and Effective Communication:
Good and effective communication skills, both verbal & non-verbal, are very important in the day-to-day functioning of the individual. Many of the problems are solved with good communication alone. At the same time, communication of feelings and emotions is essential for mental wellbeing.
9. Management of Stress:
Stress is the silent killer. It’s necessary to learn how to manage stress with the help of exercise and other healthy methods so that in the long-range, physical and mental disorders could be prevented.
10. Management of Emotions:
Emotions play a very vital role in a person’s professional and personal life. An emotionally imbalanced person in his personal life may not be able to work efficiently in his professional life. There are a plethora of emotions like the death of dear ones, marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, etc. with the effect on the physical and mental health of a person directly or indirectly.
The afore-mentioned life skills are the founding stones for a healthy and successful life. These skills help people to explore alternatives, weigh the associated pros and cons, and make rational decisions in solving each problem or issue as it arises. Moreover, it also entails being able to establish productive interpersonal relationships with others.
What are the Main Components of Life Skills as per WHO?
Categories of Life Skills:
‘WHO’ – World Health Organization has categorized the most fundamental 10 life skills under three broad categories highlighting the importance of life skills.
1. Thinking Skills: This consists of Self-awareness, Critical thinking, Problem-solving, Decision making, and Creative thinking.
2. Social Skills: This consists of Effective Communication, Empathy, and Interpersonal Relationships.
3. Emotional skills: This refers to Dealing with Emotions and Coping with stress.
In addition to the above, The World Health Organisation (WHO) categorizes life skills into the following three components:
a) Critical thinking skills/Decision-making skills– These include decision-making/problem-solving skills and information gathering skills. Individuals need to be skilled at evaluating the future consequences of their present actions and the actions of others.
They need to be able to determine alternative solutions and to analyze the influence of their values and the values of those around them so that a sustainable solution could be arrived at.
b) Interpersonal/Communication skills– These include verbal and non-verbal communication, active listening, and the ability to express feelings and give feedback. Also in this category, some other skills like negotiation/refusal skills and assertiveness skills that directly affect ones’ ability to manage the conflict are included.
Empathy, which is defined as the ability to listen and understand others’ needs, is also a key interpersonal skill for life. Teamwork and the ability to cooperate include expressing respect for those around us are prerequisites for a successful professional life.
The development of this skill set enables the adolescent and a new employee to be accepted in society and the professional world, respectively. These skills result in the acceptance of social norms.
c) Coping and self-management skills- These refer to skills to increase the internal locus of control so that the individual believes that they can make a difference in the world and affect change in his own life.
Self-esteem, self-awareness, self-evaluation skills, and the ability to set goals are also part of self-management skills. Anger, grief, and anxiety must all be dealt with with the control of the mind as the individual learns to cope with loss or trauma. Management of stress and time is the need of the hour.
Who requires life skills?
Learning life skills is applicable for everyone (from children to adults), who would like to be most successful in a career and look for a quality personal life. Ideally, if these skills are learned at an early age, let’s say from school age, the effect will be seen when the individual is ready to take decisions related to their choice of career or profession desired.
It helps in choosing and selecting the courses, be it professional or otherwise. Sometimes we are baffled with indecisive situations in our life causing frustration. To find answers to the questions of life becomes a herculean task. In such tricky situations, learning these life skills helps to bridge the gap. Altogether, these things highlight the importance of life skills in each and every persons’ life.
Imparting ‘Life Skills Education’ In Classroom
Since people have realized that learning skills at an early age are beneficial for an individual to live his life, imparting Life Skills Education in the classroom has been researched meticulously. It has been found in some research that it has a positive outcome when life skills are taught as a part of the curriculum in schools.
There has also been research indicating that life skills when imparted and implemented a training program for the adolescents, act as an intervention approach and a model contributing to the healthy development of adolescents.
Thus, in the light of the researches, the significance of life skills education has been well established and steps are taken to implement the life skills in classroom settings.
Conceiving the importance of life skills, different activities can be used to enhance Life Skills in Students. Some of them are discussed below.
1. Classroom Discussions:
- One of the ways to teach life skills amongst the students is through classroom discussions.
- It refers to an activity, providing opportunities for students to learn and practice turning to one another while solving problems.
- It enables students to understand the topic and personalize their connection to it.
- It helps in developing skills, in listening, assertiveness, and empathy.
- Another way of imparting life skill education is through brainstorming. It helps to generate creative ideas as a group of people give their ideas without being influenced by anyone.
- It allows students to generate ideas more spontaneously.
- It helps students use their imagination and think out of the box.
- It is a good discussion starter because the class can creatively generate ideas.
- It is essential to evaluate and analyze the pros and cons of each idea and rank these ideas according to certain criteria.
3. Role Plays:
- It is a fun activity and involves the whole class.
- It helps the students to be active and participative in life.
- It also provides an excellent strategy for practicing skills in real life.
- It helps in experiencing how one might handle a potential situation in real life
- It helps in increasing empathy for others and their point of view
- It helps in increasing insight into own feelings.
- This technique has the following features.
- Groups are helpful especially when the time is limited as it maximizes student input.
- It allows students interactions, allows them to know one another better which in a way enhances team building and teamwork.
5. Educational Games and Simulations:
- It helps in analyzing the real problems through the usage of technology. It is a kind of live training using artificial situations.
- It promotes fun and active learning, enriched with discussion. The participants work hard to prove their points or earn points.
6. Analysis of Situation and Case Studies:
- It gives a chance, to analyze, explore, challenges, dilemmas, and safely test solutions.
- It helps in providing opportunities for working together in groups, sharing an idea, new learnings and gives insight and promotes sometimes to see things differently.
- Case studies are like powerful catalysts for developing thought and discussion.
- It helps the students to improve their own, critical thinking, decision-making skills.
- It also gives chance to the individuals to confront risks or any challenges and find ways to cope with them.
The importance of life skills
In a constantly changing environment, only an individual having life skills can meet the challenges of everyday life in a positive way. This marks the importance of life skills in today’s scenario. There have been dramatic changes in global economies over the past few years along with a matched transformation in technology.
All these are all impacting education, the workplace, and our home life. To cope with the increasing pace and change of modern life, people need to accept the need for new life skills to live life happily. Today the working conditions and jobs are more demanding and the level of stress is on the higher side. Life skills are nothing but the savior for the generation of today. The importance of life skills can be felt in every part and parcel of life.
It has myriad benefits which are discussed below:
Benefits for the individual
- Find new ways of thinking and develop problem-solving abilities.
- Understand the impact of their actions and teaches them to take responsibility for what they do rather than blame others.
- Build confidence in spoken skills and boost group collaboration and cooperation.
- Analyze feasible solutions, make decisions and understand why they make certain choices outside the classroom.
- Develop a greater sense of self-awareness and a positive approach towards life.
Benefits for employment
The days are gone when getting a first-class in graduation will fetch a decent job. For getting selected in a job interview, the importance of life skills plays a vital role. It has been found out in various researches that the employers are looking not just for academic success but key employability, which are the life skills i.e.
- The ability to manage oneself, solve the problem efficiently and effectively and understand the business environment
- The capability to work well both as an individual and as part of a team
- The ability to manage time and people
- Agility and adaptability to different job roles when required in flexible working environments
- The potential to lead and excel in a given area of work.
Benefits for society
- It is an inevitable truth that the more we develop life skills individually, the more it helps to live life happily in society. The more people are happy in a society, the better the world becomes to live in.
- It helps an individual to respect diversity and allows creativity and imagination to flourish developing a more tolerant society
- It helps in developing negotiation skills and the ability to network
- It helps in learning how to empathize that help to build resolutions rather than resentments
Importance of life skills in career
Building a rewarding and long-lasting career not only just involves professional and academic sets of skills, but also the ability to cope with life itself.
We live in an age of competition. There are a plethora of unemployed people with good academic records. That is the reason why we rely largely on our life skills and talent to gain a competitive edge over others. While talent is mostly intrinsic to who we are, our skills can be honed and developed by learning life skills. The importance of life skills can be better realized when we meet someone looking for a job.
We develop a lot of basic skills, for example, speaking, listening, reading, writing, calculating, and specialized skills like accounting, coding, marketing, teaching, writing throughout our lives to build a strong, impressive, and durable career portfolio.
However, some other skills are even more crucial and important than these basic skills as they directly influence our careers and lives, regardless of our professional choices. There is no doubt that these essential skills are nothing but life skills.
When a company says they want someone who can work in a fast-paced environment efficiently and effectively, they are saying they want someone with good time management skills and flexibility. It is a wrong notion to think time management is as simple as getting to work on time consistently. Such thinking reduces the employability of an individual in the current job market.
Being able to layout and execute a plan according to the strategic vision and mission of an organization is crucial in any line of business. The working environment of today runs at a faster pace and seeks people who can adapt to multi-tasking. The only way to multi-task efficiently and effectively is to be able to micro-manage your time, a life skill that needs to be inculcated without default.
Any skill that helps in living life independently can be a life skill. It may be cooking your meal, driving your car, swimming, stitching your clothes, or using a computer and browsing on the internet. Life skills are nothing but any skill which helps a person to face the challenges of life efficiently. The importance of life skills is felt everywhere in life.
Depending on the age and stage of life, every person may have a different skill set which he considers more essential than others, ranking the life skills accordingly. The needs and requirements of a homemaker may be different than that of a working professional. However, to live with a positive approach, these 10 life skills are crucial.
A homemaker too has to manage her time like a working professional has to. The pursuit of happiness is a never-ending process. What may be important for one may be immaterial for others. Which is the better way of living life is a question whose answer depends on the perception of an individual. Whatever path one chooses, realizing the importance of life skills and developing the same are the pillars of success in one’s life, directly or indirectly.