In a previous blog, I talked about advances in technology related to our need for social connection and it’s impact on our health. I’ve also been considering the relationship of technology and human social connection with respect to the skills we’ll need in the future to be successful.
The prevalence of AI will only make social and emotional skills more necessary and valuable, because these are skills machines aren’t capable of (at least not yet).
Think about experiences you’ve had with automated customer service systems. They do a good job in many cases guessing what you need based on your selections from an automated menu or how you respond to the computerized voice that asks you, “What can I help you with today?” Most of us know if you say, “representative” enough times you can eventually get to a real person. We want a real person who we know is listening to us. Ideally, we want someone who cares and really wants to help us solve our issue. Part of that may be related to us thinking it’s faster to talk to someone, but part of it is related to a strong desire for real human connection.
Let’s take this to another level and consider the advances of technology in medicine. We now have robots performing surgeries. There are still doctors present during these procedures, however, we must assume that at some point they might not need to be present at all. While the technical side of medicine may be replaced more and more with AI, the best doctors will bring social and emotional intelligence and skills to their work in a way that makes a profound difference in their patient’s experience. Medical situations are often full of emotion, worry and sometimes fear. These are things machines are not good at picking up on and responding to in a way that says, “I understand and care.” We want – actually need – the doctor that takes the time to listen, shows empathy and compassion and really cares about getting us the best care.
Social and Emotional skills are among those that will be most needed and in demand in the future, according to the World Economic Forum. Skills like empathy, creative problem-solving, negotiation and collaboration. In fact, 61% of executives in one study said emotional intelligence will become a “must-have” skill in the next 1-5 years. I’m tired of hearing these skills referred to as “soft skills.” They’re hard! The best term I’ve heard for them is “Power Skills.” That’s what I’m calling them from now on!
We are all social and emotional animals. We all have emotions that we need to manage. Strong awareness of self and others, and the ability to manage our emotions, develop relationships and make sound choices is what allows us to connect with others in ways that positively affect our health, happiness and performance.
Impacts of Strong Social and Emotional Skills include:
- Ability to better understand and relate with others
- More positive attitudes toward self, others, tasks
- More positive social behaviors and relationships
- Ability to make sound choices
- Greater confidence and persistence
- Decreased emotional stress, anxiety, depression
- Improved performance (including school test scores, grades, and attendance)
As we rely more and more on technology for work, play and connection with others, we are no longer building social and emotional skills as naturally as we used to (read about Play ). So, now we need to directly teach these skills, starting with kids. Schools understand this and are prioritizing Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), however, we need to teach these skills at home as well. In fact, we already are with our own behaviors, so we need to pay attention to how we’re showing up and what we’re modeling in terms of our own social and emotional intelligence and skills. We also need to teach young professional entering the workforce. Frankly, as we’ve all become more reliant on technology for work, play and connection we could probably all use some development in this area.
There are 5 competencies along with related skills that are often used when teaching SEL. Think about how you can incorporate these skills into daily activities. Talk about your emotions and teach your kids how to talk about what they’re feeling. Building social and emotional intelligence and skills – Power Skills – takes work and a lot of practice. What are you waiting for?