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Ask HN: What's the most useful skill you ever learned?
35 points by smarri on Nov 15, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 22 comments

This is a very meta response, but the best skill I've ever learned is how to learn. Barbara Oakley's Learning How To Learn class [0] was immensely helpful for understanding how brains work and how I could learn efficiently.

I made it through college with a combination of cramming and bad sleep habits, but focusing on spaced repetition, the diffuse/active modes, and sleep has made classes I've taken since feel like easy mode.

[0]: https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn

I did not care for that course. The production value was horrendous 2 years ago when I tried to take it. But this answer is 100% accurate

Ha, I know what you mean! I found the information extremely valuable, but I do agree that the production value leaves a lot to be desired. I'm not sure if you've read her book A Mind For Numbers, but it has largely the same information (without nearly as many clipart zombies).

In a similar vein, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that it’s hard for people to get to the message if they can’t get past the presentation.

And that a killer presentation can even get you trust from people that you shouldn’t even be getting, bypassing what may otherwise have been great difficulty to earn their trust.

Wonder if there is an updated version to this with better value?

Active listening. I'm amazed at how much better discussions go when this simple tool is used. Conflicts big and small melt away. Understanding, trust, and confidence are built. And even if not everyone agrees at the end, they at least feel heard, which is such an overlooked and underrated need.

What resource did you learn this from?

One way I found helpful is to repeat or paraphrase what the other person had said in the conversation. At first I was surprised by how difficult this was. Then I realized it’s because I was just hearing the words but not processing them. This also signifies to the other person that you are understanding and engaging in the conversation.

That's basically it. I find that it serves three functions: one is making the other person feel heard, two is making sure I actually understand what they're saying (misunderstandings are more common than I think!), and three is forcing me to put my own response on hold. That last bit is huge. I had no idea how reactive I was in conversation, and what a detriment it is to communication.

Therapy. :)

Sticking to commitments. That means showing up on time, delivering on what you promise. Also related is not making promises you can't keep.

I believe this one should be of high priority on the list of things that one should learn.

Touch typing. Took a course at Sawyer Business College during my psychiatry rotation in my 3rd year of med school.

Transcendental meditation, and making it a daily habit. Changed my life.

programming. and on more life broad approach the big 4's: "not my fucking problem" & "could not care less" & "don't give a shit" & "piss off, i'm busy'. These 4's made wonders to my health and family, now everybody leaves me alone with their stupidity and only approach me for serious stuff. I don't have time for crap or smalltalk, for that I already have my family.

Public speaking

To worry less.

Reading. The second one is writing.

IDK, eating has served me quite well ;)

I think developing a love for reading is really important. I'm not a big reader, but I can usually finish 20+ books a year, half of which are beneficial beyond enjoyment.

Questioning first principles.

Writing blog posts every week!


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