Certain skills receive far too little recognition in the workplace. These are my favorites:
The discipline to keep a straight-face. Although this is particularly helpful during negotiations, audits, and investigations, it can also be of immediate benefit while listening to the boss's inspirational speeches at staff meetings and to analysts when they give budget projections.
The sixth sense that signals when it is time to leave. "Leave where?" you ask. It doesn't matter. The skill's wide applicability is the beautiful part. People with this uncanny sense know when to duck out of office parties, conferences, and water cooler discussions before something embarrassing occurs. Some with even more refined feelers know which get-togethers to avoid entirely.
The ability to keep a secret. One of the rarest skills of all and consequently one of the most appreciated. If you ever thank this person for not revealing your blunder with the HR director's spouse at the company picnic, he or she will reply, "I have no idea what you're talking about." People have achieved sainthood for less.
The strength to say no. This skill has brought more happiness to more people than all of the others combined. It has saved many an employee from half-baked projects, wasted weekends, and senior executives who have fallen in love with some guru's latest lunacy.
This is, of course, a partial listing and yet it illustrates the importance of the little intangibles.
Watch for them the next time you make a personnel selection.