Adaptability soft skills: how to adapt to any situation at work

What is adaptability in the workplace?

Adaptability is a crucial skill in the workplace and in life in general. Adaptable people are generally flexible and open-minded and easily pick up new skills and working methods. 

Being adaptable in the workplace is crucial for carrying on during times of disruption, such as changes in work processes, the introduction of new technology, and much more. In this article, we’ll look at the top five most sought-after adaptability skills.  

Adaptability soft skills

Top five workplace adaptability skills 

Having excellent communication skills 

Being an effective communicator gets you further in life and in the workplace because good communicators build and maintain strong relationships. But truly effective communicators don’t only communicate effectively when things are going well. They also keep cool under pressure and adapt to sudden changes.

When adjusting to change, excellent communicators can clearly express their thoughts, ideas, and concerns to coworkers and managers. Excellent communicators have the following skills, such as: 

  • Being a good listener: communication is about listening as well as talking. Listening to fellow employees and management during times of change ensures you understand how new processes will affect you and your team and helps you develop solutions to problems.  
  • Staying calm under pressure: It’s okay to be concerned about change or stressful events in the workplace. But good communicators don’t panic or alienate their workmates with negative comments. Instead, they calmly and effectively share any reservations to find solutions.    
  • Emotional regulation: stress in the workplace can lead to poor health and even injury, so regulating your stress levels during times of change and economic uncertainty is crucial for your well-being and the well-being of your entire team. 
  • Social awareness: 55% of communication is nonverbal, which means simply listening and talking isn’t enough to make you an expert communicator. Gauging non-verbal cues is essential for understanding the situation and the people around you.  

Being a quick learner 

Whether you’ve been in your role for ten years or a few months, you have to accept the reality of change and be able to quickly learn new skills. Many factors in the macro environment can directly change your workplace, from changes in the economy to the introduction of new technology. Of course, even the most adaptable people don’t become excellent at working with the latest piece of technology overnight, but they do present the required skills to handle change, such as: 

  • Being open to new ideas: people who are open to new ideas will likely adapt to change with enthusiasm and get the most out of it. 
  • Observational skills: observant people consider any change’s impact on their job and the company as a whole and identify and settle any teething problems along the way. 
  • Curiosity: people who approach change with curiosity rather than fear or panic will likely be the first to learn new skills and make the best of a new situation. 
  • Research skills: highly adaptable people can still show healthy concerns when things start to change. However, people who aren’t afraid of change conduct unbiased research to provide their colleagues and managers with facts rather than fear.    
  • Patience: showing patience during times of disruption, such as introducing new working methods and technology or even welcoming a new member of staff is the sign of a highly adaptable person. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and someone with an adaptable mindset knows that they’ll likely have to become accustomed to several small changes over a long period of time.   

Being highly organised

It’s hard for people to adapt to a new way of doing things if they’re generally disorganised while handling established working methods. Large changes require effective planning and a lot of preparation. Highly organised people tend to present the following skills: 

  • Excellent planning and time management skills: people with good planning skills can break down large tasks into smaller bite-sized chunks and ensure they make relevant changes at the right time.  
  • Scheduling skills: setting aside time to learn new technology or to speak to your manager about upcoming changes helps you quickly adapt to change.
  • Record-keeping skills: keeping records of meetings, emails, one-on-ones, etc., regarding new working methods and issues helps you stay on top of proposed changes.  

Being an expert problem solver 

The workplace, and life in general, is not a sterile environment where everything always runs smoothly. Problem-solving is a highly sought-after adaptability trait because people need to deal with change and issues with a positive and productive mindset to keep the company running smoothly during tough times. You can identify an expert problem solver by looking out for the following set of soft skills: 

  • Brainstorming skills: sharing ideas and listening to feedback is a more effective way of solving a problem than attempting to do it alone.  
  • Decision-making skills: expert problem solvers make decisions based on discussions and social feedback to ensure everyone’s thoughts, feelings, and expert opinions have been considered.
  • Negotiation skills: good negotiators are assertive, have excellent listening and problem-solving skills, consider opposing viewpoints, and come up with original ideas. 

Showing resourcefulness

Resourcefulness is an important adaptability skill because it shows an ability to consider various options and think outside the box to reach your end goal. A resourceful person often shows:

  • Open mindedness: open-minded people consider new ideas and don’t confine themselves to set boundaries or believe they hold all the answers. An open-minded person considers various points of view and generally finds it easier to adapt to change.

Confidence: people who maintain their confidence during change will successfully adapt to a new situation. People who can’t keep a level head during change will likely find it harder to adapt, can become too stressed to learn new things, and even burn themselves out.    

How to demonstrate adaptability in the workplace 

Both large and small businesses highly value the ability to adapt to change. After all, highly adaptable people are more likely to survive and thrive in most environments. If you don’t feel you possess the above skills, don’t stress. Adaptability is a skill that can be learned.

To find out more, check out this article we’ve written to help you along. 

The Bottom Line 

Highly adaptable people tend to thrive in times of transition and keep calm when faced with new and unexpected challenges such as pandemics and remote working.

To test your soft skills, and find your strengths such as adaptability in the workplace, check out our free online soft skills test and find out your soft skill strengths and areas for development – you will even get a free personality report with your insights.


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