Most real skills are not taught in classrooms or learned at training events, expect for mastering the art of looking interested while daydreaming, making vague noises in the way of approval and keeping yourself still as you count down the clock.

The skills the you do develop in life are learned through close observation of others, practice, repetition, making mistakes and trying to learn from them. Sadly, we don’t become fully of the skills that we are lacking in until it becomes a difficult task to try to master them.

One such skill, which the acquisition of is rarely encouraged, is articulation. Every time you open your mouth you are judged. People have prejudices about your accent, your tone and your level of articulation. When we listen to someone’s voice in a movie, for example, without seeing them, we have vastly different ideas about someone who speaks with a southern US drawl, in a monotone, constantly tripping over their words and using more fillers than nouns or verbs, and someone who speaks with a British Received Pronunciation accent (the Queen’s English), succinctly and in dynamic tones. The first will be cast as a simple idiot, while the latter will be cast as an evil genius. And people cast you, rightly or wrongly according to the way you speak.

Becoming articulate doesn’t mean having to change your accent. It doesn’t matter whether your accent is New Orleans or New Jersey, Birmingham, Alabama or Birmingham, England – the key is to think before you speak. Speak slowly, if necessary. Make use of emphasis and pauses, and avoid filler words such as “um, uh, well, like, you know, you feel me”, etc. Project your voice – speak from the diaphragm. Don’t worry if you startled yourself at first. Nobody ever remembered a speech delivered by a whisperer. If you want to be listened to, first you need to be heard. Record yourself speaking on a topic naturally (not reading). Compare your performance with people whose voices you admire, make changes and try again. Don’t use theatrical actors as role models, unless you are intending to lead a revolution. Nobody speaks like Brian Blessed at the dinner table.

Another skill which is ignored, unless it is found to be underdeveloped in certain individuals, is dexterity. Why is that important? Hold onto that question and ask yourself again just before you go in for surgery, or as you watch a bomb disposal expert at work. Dexterity is learned to a point, as children, when we learn to hold a crayon and tie our shoelaces. After learning to write, it’s pretty much ignored. Even poor handwriting is simply accepted these days, as people mistakenly believe it is a sign of intelligence. Writing scruffily is about as intelligent as mumbling when giving precise orders to an infantry unit. When it comes to learning to play and instrument such as the guitar, harp, piano and so on, we are found to be very clumsy. Continuing to practice such an instrument, however, will lead to the results you want, and is a great way to improve dexterity. Typing and playing video games can help. Learning to manipulate a drone, such as these at Rotor Copters, is even better. Learning magic tricks, sleight of hand and the ways of pickpockets will have a drastic effect on dexterity. With those skills, if you ever join the police or the military, you’ll be a prime candidate to go into bomb disposal.

Another skill which is sadly lacking en masse these days is self-discipline. This is the reason you see fat people stuffing their faces with chips and soda as they sit in their cars, it’s why you hear about people getting deeper into debt when they don’t have any money, it’s why people cheat on their loved ones, causing marriages to break up and leaving their children in a broken home. It is often thought that uniformed organizations and the military can reverse an individual’s poor self-discipline. If the organization is successful in breaking down the individual and rebuilding them as a soldier, then that is correct. However, often soldiers are failed by their training. They maintain strict discipline while serving, but this evaporates when they leave the organization and get involved in fights, drugs and all kinds of mischief.