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Heidi Dulebohn

To thrive in a virtual workplace, your communication skills may need an upgrade.


These days a fast internet connection is half the battle when it comes to career development. The other half of the battle is ensuring the technology we use to facilitate remote work, actually works!

When all the stars align and our tech is working fine, the focus shifts to how well we use it. That’s why it’s critical that career mobile professionals continually polish their virtual soft skills. Further, organizational leaders should demonstrate and promote the preferred soft skills and behaviors to ensure our new, tech-centric workplace cultures continue to thrive.

Don’t just communicate often, communicate well

Whether you’re part of a global team or you’re…

This underrated soft skill will greatly improve your ability to communicate personally and professionally.


If you ask the average person, are you a good listener? They’ll probably say yes. But the truth is, most of us aren’t — at all. Between technology and the rapid changes we’re constantly absorbing, not to mention the increasing speed of business and the need to react or perform quickly, listening has fallen by the wayside. That has serious implications for our ability to communicate, personally and professionally.

Listening is an essential soft skill. Before if you were smart enough, you worked hard, and you had the right hard skills, you could land a job — perhaps even your…

A leader must be selective, and wisely decide when to show your vulnerability or “human side.”

I remember watching the movie U-571, and thinking, wow. Harvey Keitel, who plays the seasoned Chief Klogh, personifies leadership during a life-and-death situation. He told the young Lieutenant, played by Matthew McConaughey, how to address his submarine crew after the captain’s battle loss to a German U-boat:

“Don’t you dare say what you said to the boys back there again, ‘I don’t know.’ Those three words will kill a crew, dead as a depth charge. You’re the skipper now, and the skipper always knows what to do, whether he does or not.”

The Lieutenant was unsure what to do after…

Never underestimate the power of soft skills to advance your leadership influence — and earn you strange local cakes

Heidi Dulebohn

First published at

Many discount the power of soft skills because their impact is difficult to measure. I also think the word “soft” may have something to do with neglecting these valuable leadership tools. However, I’ve seen their power at work in my own career — the ability to communicate effectively in different milieus, for instance, has helped me to advance in many organizations — and it’s part of the reason I’m so passionate about helping others to hone their soft skills.

Soft skills such as cultural competence are necessary in our increasingly connected, global world.

Take soft diplomacy

Communication skills may suffer in a tension filled environment. That can be dangerous for leaders, especially in a work context.

We are upside down right now. Political furor, pandemic fatigue, a poor economy, changed lives, and unknown futures have led us down a rocky road. At times, it feels like we’re navigating through a fog, stumbling over bumps, and tripping into holes as we search for a smoother route. Uncertainty often manifests as frustration, and it makes some of us more vocal, in-person, virtually, and through social media, as we try to sort through what’s happening, to find help, and simply, to cope.

Communication skills, however, are suffering in this tension filled environment. That can be dangerous in a work…

You’ll know EP when you see it, and if you want to use it’s power for yourself, expect your career to show tangible dividends.

I was attending the national meeting for the American Medical Association Alliance, Confluence, a fitting title. There were hundreds of members from across the country, each of us Presidents-Elect for our local chapters, gathered one cold and dreary February afternoon at the posh Drake Hotel overlooking Lake Michigan in Chicago. I was excited to represent my group, and I was especially looking forward to the opening session, a luncheon to hear the National President welcome us.

You wouldn’t know it by the well publicized problems companies seem to be having, but creating a diverse and inclusive culture has indisputable value. Myriad research shows that having a diverse workforce, where everyone feels valued, respected, and treated with dignity will not only increase your productivity and bottom line; it will help you recruit from a larger, global pool, retain top talent and improve your brand’s reputation.

Naturally, leaders want to create a genuinely diverse and inclusive culture where dignity, and respect are the rule and not the exception. So, why doesn’t every organization embody this type of culture…

Why is it so hard? And how can I do it with a little grace?

I was fortunate to be part of a beautiful event recently, Belinda Chang’s Virtual Boozy Brunch. I spoke in a segment on “how to say no” and offered a step-by-step process to help individuals who are burdened by a habit of always saying “yes,” even when an opportunity doesn’t align with their “budget.”

In theory, saying “no” seems simple, right? But it’s not. It’s something many of us struggle with at one time or another. So, why is it so hard to say “no,” but so easy to say, “yes?”

If we look at the science behind it, we say…

You live and you learn — hard.


We had a family friend, Mickey from Beaumont, Texas, whose mantra was, “Nobody said it was going to be easy,” and that’s the simple truth of it all. Nothing is easy, but everything you dream of is worth working hard to achieve. But when it comes to gender in the workplace, there are a few things I wish someone had told me when I started out.

People often ask me what it was like to be among the first female grain traders and grain elevator managers, and the question always puzzles me for a moment. …

Everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs, but they do not have the right to endanger your health and well being.


It is puzzling when something seemingly straightforward and benign to one person, can be menacing to others. I suppose a global pandemic can bring out the best and worst in us.

These days, “How do I talk to family and friends who are not exercising social distancing and are not always ‘masking-up?’” is a common question. Social codes give us the direction to be polite, respectfully curious, yet authentic to our values. Cling to them as you navigate personalities, feelings, and relationships.

The first response to this question that may come to mind is: “What is wrong with them?” But…

Heidi Dulebohn

Cracking Social Codes for Good| International Cultural Consultant |

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