The Best Human Skill of 2024 Is…

The Best Human Skill of 2024 Is…

As we navigate through 2024, I've been curious about the most crucial human skill needed to thrive this year. So, I’ve been able to ask 120 people what they thought was the key human skill to thrive in 2024. Surprisingly, everyone pointed to the same essential skill,…although they used different words to describe it.

Let me explain.

The answers were skills like compassion, empathy, communication, authenticity, adaptability, and resilience.  Great answers.  I get the sense they all require a foundational and underlying concept or skill to be effective or even present.   If the skill that I am thinking about doesn’t exist, the other skills have a hard time emerging.  Imagine wanting to show compassion but you are angry or hangry, it’s harder to, isn’t it?  Imagine feeling the stressors of work deadlines, a sick child, news headlines or more.  We may not be able to adapt, empathize or even care.

To embody and express these qualities effectively, we must be emotionally and physically regulated. This brings us to the core skill of 2024: emotional regulation.

Understanding Emotional Regulation

Emotional regulation refers to our ability to manage and respond to emotional experiences in a balanced way.  We are emotional beings and maybe, just maybe we have been ignoring that.  According to a report from Cornell, people unconsciously use emotion regulation strategies multiple times a day to cope with challenging situations. Some skilled, some not so much.  But what does this mean in practical terms?

Key Aspects of Emotional Regulation

Below are some of the ways we can start the conversation and the journey around this important foundational skill.

  1. Awareness: Recognizing and understanding our emotions is the first step. This involves being mindful of how we feel in various situations and acknowledging our emotional responses without judgment. Feeling our feels.  The key is to let them come and process them with curiosity, grace and a physical release (letting the body process). ‘Whoa, I am feeling something’
  2. Strategies: Employing techniques to manage emotions effectively is crucial. These strategies can include:

   - Cognitive Reappraisal: Changing the way we think about a situation to alter its emotional impact.  ‘Is there another way to view this reaction’

   - Mindfulness: Staying present and engaged in the moment without being overwhelmed by our emotions. Get out of fight flight and the inner narrative that isn’t serving you.

   - Relaxation Techniques: Practices such as deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation to calm the mind and body. Getting you out of that fight/flight response.

  1. Expression: Communicating emotions appropriately. This involves expressing feelings in a way that is constructive and considerate of others, fostering better interpersonal relationships. Easier said than done, so employing the above strategies can help – long term and short term, this does take practice.  “I am feeling upset by what is going on here, I need a moment to process’
  2. Pausing: The power of the pause. Being able to pull up or out of a moment to practice strategies to be present/aware, practice strategies of coping and expression.  ‘I am going to need a moment’


Why Emotional Regulation Matters in 2024

In a world where stressors are abundant and change is constant, emotional regulation helps us maintain mental and physical health. It enables us to handle stress, reduce anxiety, and prevent burnout. Moreover, it enhances our ability to connect with others, fostering empathy, compassion, and effective communication.

Knowing that emotional regulation is key to showing up as our best selves is important. It allows us to remain composed under pressure, make better decisions, and build stronger, more authentic relationships. As we continue through 2024, mastering emotional regulation will be essential for personal and professional growth, well-being, and overall success.

What are your thoughts?

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