Jobs in 2020: the importance of emotional intelligence



It’s no secret that our jobs are changing at the hands of technology. Automation software and AI have disrupted the job landscape, whether you view this disruption as positive or negative.

While technology isn’t quite ‘taking over’ and we aren’t facing mass unemployment, jobs in 2020 will still see a change. And that change lies in the skills and qualities that we use the most at work. Specifically, we expect to see a continued shift from IQ to EQ.

So, here’s why we think jobs in 2020 will place a greater emphasis on emotional intelligence.


Technology and the changing job landscape

Throughout 2020, we’ll see more automation adoption and more advancements in AI technology.

Automation software will take on even more of the repetitive and mechanical tasks in daily workflows. For example, automation will populate that database. Automation will parse the overflowing email inbox. And automation will complete that mindless admin.

AI, meanwhile, will act like an assistant where it’s used. It’ll provide answers and analysis, but need humans to make the ultimate decisions.

Automation and AI will, in short, continue to create, change, and take on jobs. You’ll have more time to direct your attention to customers, to your colleagues, to the future, and to higher-value work. Human team members need to fill the gap that technology can’t bring to the workplace.

Thankfully, it’s a very human-shaped gap: emotional intelligence.


What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EI), also known as emotional quotient (EQ) refers to a person’s emotional ability. Specifically, there are a few key aspects of emotional intelligence.

  • Self-awareness

The ability to recognise your emotions, why you feel them, and how they’re affecting you at any given moment.

  • Self-regulation

The ability to control how you respond to your impulses and emotions. For example, staying calm when you want to scream.

  • Empathy

The ability to recognise and understand how another is feeling, and why they’re acting the way they are. Empathy is also about conveying this understanding to the other party.

  • Social/communication skills

The ability to manage relationships, make friends, and effectively communicate. Even when, that is, a situation is difficult or calls for criticism.

In short, emotional intelligence is all about your ability to recognise and manage your emotions and the emotions of others. It’s about communication, care, and control. But what makes this so important for jobs in 2020?


Emotional intelligence in the workplace

Automation is well suited to repetitive or logic-based tasks. AI is efficient at analysing data and finding patterns. Using these tools is far more efficient and far less mind-numbing than having a human do it.

But neither type of tool can create genuine human connection or understanding. A human with high EI can. Herein lies the importance of emotional intelligence for jobs in 2020.

For example, customer service and empathy. When customers get in touch, they’re looking for a solution. But often, they’re also after emotional validation, not a robotic response.

Team members with high EI are also better at staying calm under pressure. Occasionally, a pressing incident will come along that AI or automation can’t handle. If the human lead has a higher EI, and the ability to stay calm, they’ll be better equipped to deal with problems.

Plus, emotional intelligence involves pausing and thinking things through. So, this helps for those jobs in 2020 that include fielding AI-powered suggestions. Emotional intelligence could prove useful in recognising when to follow the AI, and when to override it.


Filling the human-shaped gap

Emotional intelligence is the ingredient that computers lack. So, for jobs in 2020, a year that promises plenty of computerisation, EI will be an important skill to hone.

With it, it will be easier to create a harmonious relationship between man and machine, as computer abilities grow.


Useful links

Automation trends for 2020

15 skills that will never be automatable

The awkward interplay of man vs machine