The robots are coming, the robots are coming! Within that slightly hysterical phrase is a genuine concern for the rapid pace of change and what it will mean for our futures.
There is an obvious logic in having robots take over repetitive, dangerous and/or physically exhausting jobs. This has been disruptive for many workers in the manufacturing field, but also boon to productivity, and a creator of new jobs in engineering, design, and robotic maintenance and repair.
Still, white-collar workers could watch this evolution in relative comfort because they were largely unaffected. Until now.
Artificial Intelligence is set to disrupt jobs and industries previously thought immune to automation. Entire professions within law, financial services, accounting and customer service are set to be dramatically cut back – or eliminated altogether.
Wait – what?
Yes, that’s right. As AI gets better and better, labour-intensive intellectual functions like research, number-crunching and responding to customer service requests can all be carried out efficiently and successfully by algorithms. According to several reports by the World Economic Forum, these changes will be in place within the next 5 – 10 years.
Take a deep breath. You have time to prepare.
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Future of Jobs Report, emotional intelligence is one of the top 10 job skills in demand for 2020 and beyond.
A google search provides this definition:
the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
“emotional intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success”
Wikipedia fleshes out the description a bit further:
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own and other people’s emotions, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s).
Until the recent past it was considered wholly inappropriate to bring your emotions to work. Taking feelings into consideration when making decisions was considered a sign of weakness. Happily, this has changed!
If you haven’t spent a whole lot of time thinking about or working on your emotional intelligence, not to worry. These are skills that can be learned and improved, like any other. Apart from psychopaths, who literally have no empathy, the rest of humanity has the full range of human emotion at our disposal.
As you can see from the above definitions, the skills to work on fall into two categories: Self-management and navigating interpersonal relationships.
Here are two skills to work on, one from each category, to increase your emotional intelligence:
Identify your own emotions.
This falls into the self-management category. As we go through our day, we’re often in get ‘er done mode. We’re busy, going from task to task, drawing on our mental capacities as our main source of intelligence for job performance. But moving like a river under that, is a steady stream of emotions, which is another source of intelligence available to us. Start to make a habit of tuning in to see what’s going on.
Awareness is the first step to increasing your EI. A few times a day, take a quiet minute to ask yourself: How am I feeling? See if you can name the emotions.
When that comes easily, see if you can be more discerning. For example, you might answer that question with the word tired. What else is in there? Beneath ‘tired’, are you feeling proud and content from a good work out? Frustrated, sad and disappointed from an argument you had? Much like a painting, there’s usually more than one colour – or feeling – present.
Resist the urge to solve a problem in this moment. Instead, simply focus on getting better at naming your emotions.
Acknowledge before responding.
This skill falls under the navigating interpersonal relationships category. One of the most impactful skills you can develop here is the ability to pause and acknowledge with empathy the other person’s feelings or point of view, before you respond with your own. Sounds simple enough, right?
Simple, yes. Easy, no way!
Remember the last time someone complained or accused you of something? What did you do? Probably one of the following: apologized, defended, explained, justified or counter-attacked. We are hard-wired to react so it takes conscious practice to even pause for a moment. If you can do that and then also acknowledge the other person’s feelings as worthy of respect, even if you don’t agree with them, you are making huge progress with your emotional intelligence.
This can sound something like:
I appreciate your sharing that with me. Or I can see why you’d be upset.
Think about past managers you’ve worked with. Who had low emotional intelligence? Who demonstrated high emotional intelligence? Which manager did you respect and enjoy working with more?
These skills increase trust and make for stronger client and colleague relationships. This is why they are so highly prized and are a key skillset for the new economy. Yes, robots are coming, but they don’t have emotions. Increasing your emotional intelligence greatly increases your value and job security.
Did you enjoy this article? Kira writes weekly articles packed with actionable tips for sales professionals in the financial services industry. Sign up here to receive Kira’s article delivered straight to your inbox every Tuesday.
Kira Callahan is an expert sales conversation coach serving the financial industry. Her private clients typically experience 30% – 100% increase in appointments and business booked. Click here to find out more about Kira.