Future Work: Communication and Empathy

Knowing how to relate to each other effectively has always been a valuable skill, and as we enter the age of automation, these traits will become even more valuable to businesses. Whether through brainstorming solutions or addressing employee issues in the workplace, communication and empathy could be even more important than they are today.

 

Communication 

Communication can cover a lot of different skills, but they all encompass one main principle: Being able to clearly pass on ideas, instructions, or information to someone else. We’ve all almost certainly experienced a time when we misunderstood someone, or they misunderstood us. In the workplace, this can cause all manner of problems both major and minor.

The importance of communication skills is expected to further increase in relevance in the future. Machines and AI will be designed for specific tasks in the workplace, and it will be up to the human workforce to understand, interpret, and pass on the relevant generated information to each other. Not only that, but it’s quite probable that there will be more focus on creative thinking and problem-solving. This means being able to share ideas with as much clarity as possible will be increasingly fundamental in day to day work scenarios. 

How and Where to Learn

Communication and interpersonal skills are worth developing regardless of your career choice, as they can be extremely useful in everyday interactions. In addition to the fact being a good communicator will add value to you as an employee in the coming years, it can also help form a solid foundation for aspiring management and leadership candidates. Picking these skills up can potentially help broaden your career options as a result. No formal courses currently exist for communication skills, but there are a variety of things you can practice yourself, as well as some helpful online recourses to try:

14 Proven Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills – Entrepreneur

Free online communication courses – Alison.com

 

Empathy

Empathy is already a fundamental skill for anyone in a support focused role. Being able to put yourself in someone else’s position, whether they’re a customer, member of your team, or client, can vastly improve interpersonal relations and help address and solve issues quickly. As it stands today, empathy is often ranked as the most important aspect of a workplace for staff. It helps to create a sense of community, belonging, and support, which translates into better employee happiness, retention, and productivity. 

In the future, there’s a good chance we’ll see more of a focus on creating an empathetic workplace, simply because it’s beneficial to everyone. Empathy can also be a key part of strong negotiation and communication skills. This means employees with demonstrable empathetic abilities will be in demand at almost every level of an organisation, and especially in roles that require people or workplace management.

How and Where to Learn

Currently, there are no formal courses on empathy available from educational institutions. The good news is, there are a lot of online resources and general tips that you can use to help hone this skill. It’s also one that’s well worth learning, as much like communication skills, it can help you in day to day life – you’ll be able to better understand and relate to people in general by putting yourself in their shoes. We all have different levels of empathy, but regardless of how easily it comes to you, there are plenty of exercises that you can use to develop it. Start with simple things like trying to imagine how a colleague, friend, or partner has been feeling recently. Did they seem happy, stressed, sad? If so, try to think about what might have caused these moods. Here are some places to get started:

Learn Empathy in Just 5 Steps – Psychology Today

Six Habits of Highly Empathic People – Greater Good Science Centre (Berkeley)

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