By Hannah Kaiser

There has been a recent meteoric rise of the use of artificial intelligence technology in businesses. Across industries, companies have begun adopting AI use in many and varied processes such as supply chain operations, talent recruitment, and inventory management. The majority of businesses expect that, overall, AI will have a positive impact on outcomes like customer relationships, productivity, and sales growth. 

It is true that AI technology can make a lot of things much easier for us. And, when it comes to analyzing large amounts of data, AI indisputably does it faster and better than us humans. However, when we go beyond data crunching and think about the interpersonal implications of AI use, certain concerns about our dependence on technology may crop up. 

Although AI can outdo us on some fronts, it can’t understand and empathize with other humans like we can, and will likely never be able to. As a result, overreliance on AI within our organizations may make developing our emotional intelligence all the more necessary. 

AI tech is clearly here to stay. To make the most of it, combine forces with it instead of resisting it—or, for that matter, allowing it total control when use of human emotional intelligence can enhance it. Technology may be able to analyze and integrate lots of information to optimize business strategy, but it takes human beings to cultivate a positive workplace culture, inspire one other, and, in general, interact with individuals with social grace and understanding. 

Using Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (which I will refer to as ‘EQ’ from now on) can be summed up as an ability to understand others’ and our own emotional states as well as skill in regulating emotions; both competencies promote effective social functioning. 

EQ is considered an individual trait, meaning some people are naturally more emotionally savvy than others. And, someone low in EQ may need additional organizational support through training or workshops before they can proactively demonstrate EQ. 

However, having EQ and using EQ are two different questions. Your workforce can have exceptionally high EQs overall, but circumstances may limit their ability to exercise these skills. Experiencing social ostracization can be one such cause, and you may need to consider whether AI is creating similar conditions that stifle social expression in your workplace environment. 

Here are a few ways to revive productive social interaction within your organization:  

  • Practice joint perspective taking. Those with high EQ may already be skilled in accounting for diverse perspectives and differing opinions. However, taking a more systematic approach to ‘perspective taking” can help you make better decisions and potentially resolve conflicts using EQ skills. Joint perspective taking is a collaborative process where you and the other person (or people) split your focus between your perspective and other’s perspectives. Individuals will have strategic conversations by discussing everyone’s goals and preferred means to achieve them, where each person attempts to understand different strategies and desired outcomes through their own lens.
  • Give (balanced) social support. Especially for leaders, it will be necessary to use your EQ to know when and how to provide employees with support. However, it’s important to remember that the answer to those questions is not one-size-fits-all. Some employees may only require bits of input here and there, while others may need extra resources and more hands-on guidance. Too little support can leave them exhausted and frustrated, but too much can leave employees feeling intruded upon, or even feel as though their boundaries and sense of autonomy have been disregarded. Use your EQ to balance your level of support to their needs.
  • Examine your EQ strengths and weaknesses. There are many individual skills that are influenced by your EQ. You could have particular talent in some areas, but not so much in others. For example, you may be naturally agreeable and a good listener, but you may also struggle to connect with others in a way that effectively influences them. Becoming aware of these weaknesses is a good first step but, to work on developing in those areas, you may be able to utilize your strengths to fill in the gaps (for example, leveraging your ability to listen to people so you can better understand the individual ways they find motivation). 
  • Workshops and training. Creating the right conditions only serves to enable individuals who already have high EQs to engage in effective social interaction. If certain employees, and especially leaders and managers who rely on their EQ skills, are struggling with forming strong workplace relationships, it may be time to consider formally developing EQ skills with training programs or workshops. 


Why Invest in Emotional Intelligence?

Although many organizations use AI to optimize some human-related processes, such as hiring activities or customer relationship management, AI cannot relate to other people like we can.

Working in an organization with other people requires social interaction. No matter how useful AI technology can be for some things, if the people in your company can’t get along and can’t understand each other, it’s likely that the business won’t be able to run very effectively. It is up to individual humans within the organization to develop beneficial workplace relationships that serve organizational effectiveness. 

The good news is that there are plenty of potential additional benefits of boosting EQ:

  • Emotionally intelligent leaders are better. Leaders are there to inspire and to effect change. To do this, they need the ability to monitor and respond to people within their organization. It requires a high EQ from a leader to make sure employees in their company are motivated to accomplish the right goals. 
  • People with a high EQ are more resilient. With a heightened understanding of one’s own emotional state often comes a heightened ability to regulate emotional reactions. Someone with a high EQ who is experiencing stress in their role will likely have an easier time identifying signs of overwork early, and then apply the right methods to prevent burnout from occurring. 
  • High EQ fuels creativity. Individuals who have high EQ often feel confident in their identities. Thus, they are less likely to feel intimidated by breaking the status quo with new ideas and perspectives. Additionally, people who express creativity freely are likely to inspire others to do the same. 
  • Teams with high EQ are more effective. In the same way people with high EQ are more likely to express their individuality, a team made up of high EQ is less likely to engage in groupthink. In problem-solving situations, when people have the confidence to disagree with one another, and are even willing to engage in debate, the team’s agreed upon solutions tend to be more effective when compared to teams low on productive (and healthy) conflict. 

Overall, organizations seeking to make greater use of AI technology may find many ways to cut down on use of resources to optimize their business processes. However, neglecting to develop their employees can leave a big blind spot for activities that require interpersonal talent and related skills that AI cannot match. Reviving EQ in the workplace is worthwhile.  

At Innovative Connections, we know our world promises continual, rapid change, and that change is hard. We also know that creating organizational cultures where employees feel valued, supported, and safe are increasingly important. We would love to be part of your journey as you navigate the successes and challenges that lie ahead. If you’d like a free consultation to talk about how professional coaching, leadership development, or strategy planning sessions can help shift the culture of your organization, we’d love to talk. Contact us for a free consultation by clicking this link: Innovative Connections or calling us at 970-279-3330.