Could emotional intelligence save your job?

Having empathy and being in tune with people’s feelings is an advantage in the age of automation, says Tom Chapman

Robots in the workplace used to be only found in science fiction movies – a concept similar to flying cars and lightsabers. Yet recent advances in technology mean these machines could soon be a normal part of your day-to-day routine. 

While this undoubtedly brings economic benefits, there are concerns about what this means for society. A recent Guardian report stated more than six million employees were worried that robots will eventually take their jobs. Meanwhile, a representative from the Bank of England warned artificial intelligence (AI) was a threat to thousands of positions.

If history has proved anything, it’s that resisting technological change is futile. Instead, the only thing you can do is embrace it and prepare. Consequently, to prevent your job being outsourced to a machine, you should work on your emotional intelligence (EQ).

What is emotional intelligence?

We’ve all worked or interacted with someone who has limited emotional intelligence. From the customer service representative ambivalent to your circumstances to bosses obsessed with statistics, these are individuals who fail to harness and deploy the emotions of themselves as well as others.

In contrast, those with a high EQ often excel at problem-solving and have an advantage in occupations where emotions are a necessity, such as healthcare. While robots have an edge on humans in many tasks, understanding and reacting to feelings is an area where humanity still thrives.

Therefore, to survive in a workforce dominated by robots, those with high emotional intelligence will be valued above others – purely because they can do things that AI cannot. Alternatively, those working in manual jobs could retrain for occupations where emotions are sorely needed. As the NHS is currently facing a staff shortage, the rise of machines could potentially benefit the healthcare profession. 

How do I improve my own emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence will be increasingly in demand because it’s something that is hard to attain. After all, you cannot ask someone to be empathic or tell another they need to get better at persuasion. Improving these traits is not an overnight job and is, at heart, a personality shift.

Fortunately, while a challenge, it is possible to improve your EQ. Although there are courses online that claim to help you do this, the best thing you can do is self-evaluate your interactions with others. Attempt to put yourself in their shoes and determine if your actions were reasonable. Eventually, you might be able to determine your own strengths and weaknesses. For example, while you might exceed at resolving disputes, you may not be a good motivator. 

Although these identify areas to improve, it should also allow you to build upon your strengths. Consequently, develop yourself to be an excellent listener, empathic manager, or strive to be a top negotiator.

When artificial intelligence starts replacing humans, it is these skills which will secure your future. Not only will it help differentiate you from other candidates, but it should help make you a better person.

Tom Chapman is a publishing specialist at CandidSky