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The need for empathy in the machine age

“Every day sees humanity more victorious in the struggle with space and time.” – Guglielmo Marconi

A profound statement

We don’t need to be told that technology is an enabler that permits businesses to stay ahead. New opportunities have never been easier to grasp. With expectations for rapid new developments, innovation and accelerated change, the business status quo is to leverage technologies, deliver authentic customer experiences, have societal impact and increase the bottom line (or triple bottom line).

With reference to the law of accelerating returns, it’s all about evolution whereby technological advancement rapidly increases over time causing exponential growth due to a common force. This in turn provides new conducts for tangible experiences, truer brand engagement and opportunities.

It’s predicted that “machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.”

Should businesses, brands and managers care?

We need to understand how to truly unlock technologies to propel us into connecting with customers, harnessing larger-than-life business impact and making a profit.

But how?

Empathy. It’s that simple. It’s the ability to share other people’s feelings and emotions as if they were your own.

We need to understand people better! Businesses claim to assert themselves as customer-centric and their organisations as human-focused but are we really making room for understanding humans, teamwork interactions and service design by promoting empathy?

Empathetic understanding enhances creative thinking, the most important skill of the future. Unlike machines, humans are emotional, irrational, ambitious and above all, creative. Creative thinking will be supported by uniquely human abilities such as leadership, negotiation and social intelligence.

Having recently attended the annual IAB Digital Summit, Musa Kalenga, CEO of MyNoot & Clock Education expounded upon this, affirming it is all about the “intersection of humanity and technology” and challenged marketers “to develop the ability to act like a human and think like a brand”. He shared his thoughts, stating impactful marketing starts with people at the core. This means we need to unpack the construct empathy and how to leverage this with persuasive techniques and technologies to have greater impact in brand communications. He referenced the brand Zipline to visually demonstrate the idea. The entire premise of Zipline centres around offering a solution to humanity through technology, spanning time and space.

Zipline is “the world’s only drone delivery system at national scale to send urgent medicines, such as blood and animal vaccines, to those in need – no matter where they live”.


 

To create and deliver similar meaningful and impactful ideas, we need to improve upon the existing “human-focused” approach and broach empathy. Humanity can be enhanced and be more victorious when understood and amplified through technology.

How to develop your empathy skills

  • Think beyond yourself and your own concerns. There is no room for judgement when focusing on empathy.
  • You have an influence on everyone you come into contact with. So think about whether you want to add joy, recognition, help or any other positive outcome, or if you want to spread negativity.Acknowledge the other person’s perspective, even if you don’t agree with it.
  • Truly listen – to what the person says, their tone of voice, and their body language – to understand the full message.
  • Examine your attitude: are you more concerned with being right, rather than finding the right solution?
  • Be open to other solutions: ask what the other would do in order to fully understand.
  • Be truly interested and present in the conversation, not half-hearted or waiting for time to pass so that it appears you’ve ‘done the right thing’.

Practice these simple behavioural skills and you’ll see the value – in trying to understand others, they will respond by trying to understand you. And then you’ll truly start to build a team around collaboration and cooperation.

 

Sources:

http://www.myfrugalbusiness.com/2012/05/invention-of-radio.html
https://singularityhub.com/2016/03/22/technology-feels-like-its-accelerating-because-it-actually-is/#sm.0001coo9wuyhkes3t502ehe012bia
https://www.livescience.com/51392-will-tech-bring-humanity-together-or-tear-it-apart.html
https://www.iabdigitalsummit.co.za/pages/summit/
http://oaaonline.net/the-law-of-accelerating-returns-2/
https://www.redandyellow.co.za/
https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/empathy-and-learning/
https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/EmpathyatWork.htm

 

~ Steph Houslay, Course Director at Red & Yellow
Passionate about learning, development and people. Steph believes – “Create bold visions and expect things to go your way. This mindset and attitude keeps your fire burning!”