Career Advice

Is Common Sense a Skill in the Workplace? (+How to Cultivate It)

November 4 marks ‘Common Sense Day.‘ Now, if only everyone celebrated it every day. This leads us to a question you might be asking, “Is common sense a skill in the workplace?”

Quick answer: Yes, common sense is an essential skill to have at work. Here, I’ll show you what common sense in the workplace entails, why it’s important, and how to develop it. This way, you’ll know everything you need to know about common sense in the workplace. So let’s get started!

What is Common Sense in the Workplace?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, common sense is ‘sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.” In other words, common sense lets you see the bigger picture. With this, you can make practical and sensible judgments. 

At work, an employee’s common sense will influence their working habits. Since they have practical knowledge, they can follow their gut to make good decisions, instead of running to a supervisor at the slightest inconvenience. They’ll also be able to avoid hazards, see what’s missing, produce critical thinking skills, improve communication skills, and extend niceness to others. 

Read More: How To Improve Critical Thinking Skills At Work And Make Better Decisions 

Why Is Common Sense in the Workplace Important?

It’s very important to have common sense in the workplace. And here’s why:

  • You can work independently. What employers want in employees is common sense skills. They want someone who can work on their own, without relying so much on anyone else. If you have common sense, then you can assess what needs to be done without guidance from superiors. 
  • You can exercise your own judgment. If you’re working on a complicated project, common sense allows you to follow the company’s policies but do things that go above and beyond to produce a better result. 
  • You can complete tasks faster. Someone with common sense is usually an effective decision-maker. And because of that, you won’t need to go through unnecessary steps. 
  • You can avoid hazards. With common sense, you can spot possible risk factors and steer clear of these potential dangers.
  • You can solve problems quickly. If you have insight into practical knowledge, you can make decisions on your own when you’re faced with a problem. 
  • You can resolve conflicts. No doubt, employees will face conflicts with each other or the manager. Well, with common sense, you can find fair and reasonable solutions. You can navigate interpersonal issues, understand different perspectives, and contribute to a positive and peaceful work environment. 
  • You can avoid conflicts. Besides that, common sense goes a long way to avoiding conflicts in the first place. AM International Holdings Private Limited puts it this way, “Common sense thinkers tend to be good listeners, who are keen to understand the inputs and suggestions of their team members. They have fair expectations of their co-workers and are more considerate towards them. They ask the right questions and use the knowledge gained from them to become smarter workers.”
  • You can adapt to change. In a dynamic work environment, situations and priorities can change rapidly. Common sense helps employees adapt to changes, make quick adjustments to their plans, and stay focused on the most relevant tasks without getting overwhelmed.

Examples of Common Sense in the Workplace

To help you put everything in perspective, here are some scenario examples of common sense in the workplace. 

Suppose you’re given the task of preparing company agendas. If you have common sense, you’ll know that you need to work smarter, not harder. This means that, instead of manually writing everything down, you use project management software to save time and resources. So again, “Is common sense a skill in the workplace?” YES!

Here is another example given by

If you are a sales assistant, your job isn’t just about filling out a salesperson’s expense account and sending it to accounting for payment. Sure, doing that correctly is important. But the bigger picture is making sure that all the administrative details of the sales force are taken care of competently so the salespeople can go out and do what they’re supposed to, which is sell.

Here’s one common sense example that might be harder to spot. Say everyone on your team is slacking. They spend the time talking or getting up to make themselves a cup of coffee. If you have a lack of common sense, you’ll join them. But if you are sensible, you’ll know that something is not necessarily right just because everyone is doing it. gives one more great but super simple example: 

If a restaurant patron orders soup, a waiter with common sense realizes she needs a soupspoon.

Pretty basic stuff, right? Well, that’s what common sense in the workplace looks like. 

7 Strategies on How to Develop Common Sense

Despite the name, common sense is rather uncommon. But don’t fret! Just like any other soft skill, common sense can be acquired with practice. Here are 7 strategies to help enable this great workplace attribute:

  • Observe workplace dynamics. Pay attention to how colleagues navigate different situations. Observe their interactions, decision-making processes, and problem-solving approaches. Learn from the experiences of others within the workplace.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re aware that common sense isn’t your strong suit, you can always ask questions to see the bigger picture. Remember, people with common sense will ask questions when they don’t fully understand something. 
  • Understand company culture. Familiarize yourself with the values, norms, and expectations of your workplace. Understanding the company culture provides a framework for making decisions that align with the organization’s goals and values.
  • Practice effective communication. Focus on developing strong communication skills. Being able to convey messages clearly, listen actively, and express ideas concisely contributes to a more effective and harmonious work environment, showcasing common sense in action.
  • Stay informed about industry trends. Keep yourself updated on industry trends, changes, and best practices. Being informed about your industry helps you make informed decisions that are relevant and aligned with the company.
  • Provide safety training. Say you’re an employer that wants to boost common sense in the workplace. Well, if you want your workers to have common sense about health and safety hazards, you can do mandatory safety training. This way, they will know what to do if the need calls for it. 
  • Encourage teamwork. Here’s another strategy for the employers. Whoever said, “Two minds are better than one” is correct. Two minds will come up with different ideas or viewpoints. If you take everyone’s ideas or views into consideration, everyone can come up with the best decision. 

Final Words

Is common sense a skill in the workplace? Yes, common sense is a MUST in the workplace. This way, you can work independently, avoid hazards, resolve conflicts, and much more. 

However, for some people, common sense doesn’t come naturally. So go ahead and follow the strategies that I listed here. Common sense can make things so much easier for you and the other people in your workspace. 

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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