3 Underrated Survival Skills

Posted on: July 14, 2016

When we talk about survival skills, most of the attention is on the sexy stuff like fire starting, shooting, and first aid. After the fun stuff, we might work on food storage and water purification. Following that is the really boring stuff like hygiene. However, there a few survival skills that don’t even make the list in most cases. They are the softer skills, the ones that you might not notice but are still vitally important. Lack of proficiency in these skills becomes readily apparent in day-to-day situations and will certainly lead to difficulties in truly difficult times.

The good news is that it costs virtually nothing to practice and improve these skills. You’ll need to spend some time and energy but the impact on your wallet should be about nil.

Conflict Resolution

Regulars here know I’ve mentioned this one a time or two. I feel this is one of the most important skills sets to possess. I talk about it at length in Prepper’s Communication Handbook. What it boils down to is this – much of the difficulty we have in getting along with one another as human beings stems from an inability to not just communicate effectively but to resolve our differences efficiently, effectively, and peaceably.

Conflict is unavoidable. Often, it is the result of miscommunication. Think about it. How many times just in the last month have you gotten angry or upset with someone because of something they said or perhaps posted online or sent via text, only for you to find out later they didn’t mean it the way it came across to you? Or, how many times has someone been angry with you and you didn’t have a clue as to why? And that’s just in your personal life. Add in the conflicts in the workplace and it might seem like there’s more bad blood between folks in your life than there is peace and quiet.

Resolving conflict starts with effective communication. Be up front with the person and explain why you are upset. Often, that’s all it takes because many times the conflict is the result of a miscommunication, as I mentioned before. Once the other person is able to explain what they meant to say originally, things calm down.

Sometimes, the person did truly mean the message to be taken the way it came across but they didn’t realize it was hurtful or upsetting. Give them the opportunity to straighten things out.

I know this sounds like petty, stupid stuff. Here’s the thing, though. Interpersonal conflict often starts with small, petty grievances. Just minor annoyances. Over time, though, if they aren’t resolved they fester and become toxic. We all have one or two people in our lives, often co-workers, who just set our teeth on edge the moment we see them. Now, imagine trying to get along with them during a crisis. Yeah, might be a good idea to try and resolve things now so as to hopefully provide for smoother sailing later, come what may.

As I mentioned, clear and reasonably open communication can work wonders for resolving conflict. A great approach is to explain to the person what they said or did and how it affected you. Don’t make it about them, put the blame on yourself. Do this even if you believe the other person is largely at fault. This takes the pressure off the other person and they’re more likely to open up and talk about the situation.

For example, “When I read your text, I felt like you weren’t taking me seriously and that hurt.” Instead of “You sent me that text and you obviously aren’t taking me seriously.” See the difference?

Reading Comprehension

This is a meme I’ve shared a time or two online. It really sums up the problem with reading comprehension online.

Listen, I know an awful lot of people hated school, for one reason or another. Lots of people struggled with reading and writing. I totally get that. However, being able to read, retain what was read, and understand the meaning of what was written can truly be vitally important.

If you don’t read and follow the directions precisely when working with a new piece of equipment, it could become damaged or it might cause injury.

If you aren’t paying close attention to the guidebook, you might mistake a lookalike poisonous plant for an edible variety, pop it into your mouth, and spend the next two days with a case of the shuddering trots.

I’ve found the problem is often one of rushing through the reading. We all have so many things occupying our time these days, we sometimes just breeze through reading something, trying to hit the high points, and then end up missing some of the important information in our haste.

On top of that, our reading speed tends to slow down a bit as we age. When I was in my 20s, I could easily devour an entire paperback novel in a day, maybe two if it was one of Stephen King’s doorstops. Nowadays, it takes me a bit longer. I just finished reading The Fireman by Joe Hill and it took me a full three weeks. Great book, though.

Here’s a great way to work on your reading comprehension. Let’s say you read a post on Facebook and a question about it pops into your head. Before posting a comment, reread the post and see if the answer to your question is actually there. Remember that meme I included earlier in this article?

Another strategy is to read more intentionally. By that, I mean to consciously slow down your reading and take the time to ensure you truly understand what you’re reading. Don’t be afraid to look up the meaning of any words you don’t know.

Again, this isn’t a skill that is often thought of as critically important. In fact, many people would scoff at it being included in a list like this. However, reading comprehension is related to being detail oriented. Notice the little things, the subtleties, and you’ll learn far more than the average person.

Learn How To Learn

My friend John McCann is extremely knowledgeable, skilled, and intelligent. He’s been around the block a time or two and is well known and well respected amongst his colleagues and peers. Yet, for all that, he’ll be the first to tell you that he is not an expert but a perpetual student. This is a truly wonderful approach to life in general.

If there is one thing you should have learned in school, whether we’re talking about public school, homeschooling, college, technical university, whatever, is how to learn. I know, sounds kind of funny to put it like that – learn how to learn.

Here’s the thing. Different people learn in different ways. Some people are very visual learners. They need to see it in front of them, such as someone demonstrating a process, in order to understand it properly. Others are more hands on types of learners. They learn best by doing rather than just observing. Some folks can pick up new information through reading and others require endless repetition.

The trick is to figure out how you learn best, then concentrate on that method any time you’re presented with a new skill or knowledge to gain. Many people struggled in school because classes are generally only taught in one way and if you don’t learn best with that method, you can fall behind rather quickly. That leads to frustration and, well, it can become an endless loop. If there is a skill you wish to learn, tailor your education to match your learning style. In this day and age of marvelous advances in technology and such, you should be able to find a way to obtain the information you seek presented in a manner that makes it easiest for you to learn.

2 thoughts on “3 Underrated Survival Skills

  1. Great advice. I would add that no matter how one learns new material the best, repetition commits it to long term memory.

    Another source of conflict can be due to misunderstanding of verbal communication. I discovered this first hand. I have narcolepsy and tend to slur if tired but am not usually aware of it. I discovered that this was a problem after a friend finally told me. I then asked other people about it and found out that many people were filling in the words they could not understand. It became clear that multiple conflicts or misunderstandings over the years were related to this. The problem was magnified when communicating with someone who had hearing difficulties. Now I tell people in my life to be direct and ask if they do not understand. I make sure they know that I will not be offended. People were trying to avoid hurting my feelings but there were times when the failure in communication caused problems where there were none.

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