At this point, people are familiar with the pessimistic assumptions about the decimation of the work force that is supposed to coincide with mass adoption of automation and artificial intelligences. But the truth is, the situation likely won’t be as bleak as we’ve been led to believe.
Some jobs will indeed become obsolete when robots are developed that can perform certain tasks better, faster, and more safely than humans can. However, there are other necessary human qualities that automation and AI can’t replace. At least not yet.
All the things that make us human will keep people relevant in the workforce. The shift is away from general skills and towards human qualities. These are the human capabilities that will be key in the automation age:
1. Human Interaction
As the future of work changes, the most important thing for workers to understand is that skills are easy to replace with robotics, AI, and automation. This means that learning more skills isn’t necessarily what will give you stability as the workplace changes.
Instead, developing the qualities that are an essential part of humanity is the answer to staying employed as things change. There are a few ways that these qualities can manifest and be applied to work. However, the unifying factor is that most of these involve human-to-human interactions in one form or another.
Probably the most important quality you’ll need to work on developing in order to stay relevant is creativity. Our current forays into artificial intelligence simply can’t compete with human creativity, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.
With all the new technologies, products, and even new ways of thinking that are popping up at work, people need to develop their creativity in order to come up with the most effective ways to put these new tools to use. It’s not enough to know the basic way things work. We must be creating and innovating all the time to truly stay relevant at our jobs.
If you don’t feel particularly creative or if the idea makes you a little uncomfortable, try being curious instead. Apply your curiosity to the world around you and start trying to challenge older, more rigid ways of thinking. You might be surprised at how creative you could be when you didn’t even realize you had the potential.
Embrace the unknown in your workplace and work on getting comfortable with disagreements and differing opinions. Apply your curiosity to these challenges and try to find a better way. Curiosity is the spark behind all creativity and innovation. Let yours ignite.
3. Emotional Intelligence
People with highly-developed emotional intelligence will find themselves at a significant advantage professionally. It’s in an individual’s capacity for emotional intelligence and other so-called “soft skills” that we see the biggest gaps in workers. With the advent of artificial intelligence that can more accurately diagnose human illness, for example, the doctor’s continued relevance comes in their capacity for compassion and sympathy with the patient.
At the heart of emotional intelligence skills is your own self-awareness of how your actions and reactions will affect other people. You’ll need to work on self-awareness, social awareness, and relationship management to develop your capacity for emotional intelligence.
Tied closely to emotional intelligence is the development of empathy towards your fellow human beings. Learn how to listen well, develop an ability to be fully present in the moment with people, and be sincere in your appreciation of other’s skills and contributions to the workplace.
These skills will help you with conflict resolution as well as in negotiations or persuading others to be interested in what you have to offer. Part of the success of entrepreneurs is due to their ability to sell their service or product to other people, convincing them that what they’ve got is worth an investment. Doing this sincerely and well is an important skill to develop.
Lastly, one of the best ways you can stay relevant in your job is developing and improving upon your communication skills. Try to practice your empathy skills and active listening when interacting with your colleagues. They will feel heard and everyone will get more accomplished. Plus, they might actually have an idea you’ll want to use.
Understand exactly what you want to say before you start speaking and organize your thoughts in your head. Consider the way you are being perceived. Try directing the focus on yourself (I think, I feel, I wonder) rather than on others (you did this or that). The latter often puts people on the defensive, as it can come off as accusatory.
After you’ve finished speaking, ask for confirmation. Often a simple “does that make sense?” can reveal problems in comprehension, helping you stop misunderstandings before they have a chance to really start.