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"Resistance is Futile" … the Growing Importance of Emotional Intelligence in the Era of AI

Have we reached a cultural tipping point now that AI has started to permeate so many aspects of our lives?

In a matter of months, we’ve gone from “What’s AI (a slight exaggeration)?” to I’ll check ChatGPT.

It’s become such a part of my life that I forgot how recent this love affair really is…has it really only been a few months?

Like all new relationships, we’ve had our ups and downs.

And, of course, there have been some trust issues.

Not the least of which, is the worry over whether it will take my job and those of 300 million of my closest friends…

But it’s still early days and like most early relationships, I’ve chosen to ignore its flaws and only see the positive (love is blind). According to a recent Microsoft study, I’m not alone.

In their recent Work Trend Index report they found that business leaders said they plan to use AI to increase employee productivity (31%) rather than to reduce headcount (16%).

With other purported future uses include helping employees with necessary but repetitive or mundane tasks (29%) and increasing employee well-being (26%).

And while that’s exactly what I use it for, I’m not a large multinational company (yet ;) and I personally have some lingering doubts as to whether or not that’ll happen.

But being the optimistic realist that I am, I believe AI has the potential to change things for the better, AND that we ALSO need to be smart and intentional in how we use it.

Leveraging the Power of the Borg Collective

For my less-geeky readers, the Borg are a recurring antagonist on Star Trek.

They’re part human and part machine with a collective consciousness that shares the same thoughts…which is, at times, exactly how I feel using ChatGPT.

It began harmlessly.

I couldn’t remember something.

I needed help starting to write some content.

Or just some additional ideas.

Soon, I was hooked.

While I continue to write this newsletter on my own ( AI is still more generative than innovative), for a lot of other content, I’m more than happy to outsource my brain to “the Collective”.

Which to some degree is the point of the CEO feedback and the results of Microsoft’s report.

They believe that there are better ways for us to spend our time than laboring over performative content.

In theory, by using AI at work we’ll save our brainpower for the more interesting things… the things that are more creative, more innovative, and more uniquely human.

The goal of most technology is to add, rather than subtract.

Yet so much of where this is headed is unknown and happening quickly.

Given its exponential nature, it’s impossible to truly know how it will be used.

Nevertheless, we can’t pull the covers over our heads and stay in bed until it goes away.

So, the only real choice is how can each of us use it most effectively in our work and lives.

According to that same Microsoft report, the top three skills that will be needed in our AI world are analytical judgment, flexibility, and emotional intelligence.

The report stated, “You still have to use those judgment skills when thinking about when to use AI and making those calls — that's really where the human agency comes into it.” Emotional intelligence is also crucial in helping to “determine when to leverage an AI capacity instead of a human capability,”

At least for now, AI still needs human input and emotional intelligence to understand how to maximize its use.

I would also suggest that this period of extreme disruption will require greater emotional intelligence for humans as well.

Until we have a better understanding of what all of this means for us and how we work, there will remain a lingering sense of insecurity, which will require all our humanity and emotional understanding to ensure that staff feels valued, that their growth is supported, and that they have a career path moving forward.

It’s clear that the more machines take on aspects of our work, the more important our uniquely human skills become.

In the meantime, we’re not going anywhere just yet.

So, remain open to learning, and to building your AI aptitude.

  • Analytical judgement: Determine when to leverage an AI capability instead of a human capability.

  • Flexibility: Rapidly adjust to AI's integration in the workflow.

  • Emotional intelligence: Determine when to leverage a human capability instead of an AI capability.

  • Creative evaluation: Evaluate content produced by AI.

  • Intellectual curiosity: Ask AI the right questions.

  • Bias detection and handling: Evaluate AI fairness in decision-making.

  • AI delegation (prompts): Direct AI with the right prompts

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