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June 22, 2017

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Three Ways to Outsmart The Smart Machine Age

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By Ed Hess

We are entering a new era, a so-called Smart Machine Age that will lead to technology and robots outperforming humans in many tasks. This is bad news on the job front, with one estimate that 47 percent of U.S. jobs will be automated over the next 15 years. You might think the solution is us to become more robot-like to fit into this brave new high-tech work world. But don’t channel your inner Mr. Spock just yet. The key to staying employable in the Smart Machine Age is to excel at what makes us unique as humans: our real, not artificial, emotional and social intelligence.

Here are three ways to do that:

1) Increase positivity: Generate positive emotions by not allowing negative emotions to control you. You can change the ratio of good and bad feelings in your head by shifting your focus. Take more time to notice the beauty of nature or the smiles of a young child. Reflect on something joyous in your life. Think more often about the people and pets you love, the times you felt good about your work, the times you felt appreciated by others. Practicing gratitude also increases positive emotions.

2) Manage negative emotions. Emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, dread and cruelty usually last only 90 seconds — unless you let them overtake you. Let negative thoughts float through your mind without engaging them. Calm yourself by taking deep breaths and reflecting on something more positive in your life.

3) Embrace the power of otherness. Otherness is the ability to rise above our self-absorbed, ego-driven emotional defensiveness in order to connect to and emotionally relate with others. Take time to connect and relate with others to show that you care about them by making eye contact, smiling and not multi-tasking. Listen with an open, non-judgmental mind that is fully focused on trying to understand what they are saying. Really listening to another person says: I care about you and what you think and feel.

Smart technology may be smart indeed, but we should focus on being more emotionally and socially intelligent. Embrace positivity and excel at managing your emotions and otherness, because that’s what will help you thrive in the Smart Machine Age.

Ed Hess is co-author with Katherine Ludwig of Humility Is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age


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