Gen Z workers are rediscovering interpersonal skills in the post-pandemic AI age—and the stakes couldn't be higher

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Richard TorrenzanoChief Executive, The Torenzano Group, helps organizations control how they are perceived. For nearly a decade he was a member of the New York Stock Exchange Management (Policy) and Executive (Operations) Committees.

As technology continues to rapidly advance, a surprising trend is emerging: undervaluing in-person communication and interpersonal skills, especially among the tech-immersed young workforce, who are looking for remote work options. Being attracted to. This mindset is exacerbated by years of limited contact with family, friends and co-workers due to the pandemic.

In this new era, dominated by artificial intelligence (AI) and increasingly digital communication, virtual interaction reigns supreme. This shift raises significant concerns, including the risk of over-reliance or addiction to technology, decreased face-to-face engagement, decreased physical activity, and potential mental health effects.

Additionally, technology contributes to concerns over privacy, information overload, and job displacement. The absurdly fast pace of technological progress outpaces our ability to adapt, creating social and ethical dilemmas that require sensible deliberation and regulation.

In response to these challenges in the workplace, a hybrid work model balances technological advances with significant face-to-face interaction. Combining remote work with an on-site presence increases productivity and allows companies to leverage technology while preserving the human touch that strengthens relationships and enhances collaboration.

The irreplaceable power of human connection in a digital world

Nonverbal cues such as body language, subtle cues, and vocal nuances are important aspects of human interaction and communication that cannot be fully captured by text and images.

Furthermore, virtual platforms, while increasing accessibility and convenience, often miss the nuances of interpersonal communication. Despite these limitations, the Internet is important for the transmission of information.

Still, human interaction—during in-person conferences, networking events, meetings, or meals—fosters connections and builds trust that no algorithm can replicate.

Consider any life-changing advice you received from a close friend, relative, or mentor. It was of course delivered in person.

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is what distinguishes us as empathic beings. This enables us to cooperate and develop based on trust and understanding.

Perhaps the pendulum needs to be swung back a bit. Physical contact is an important factor in team building. Watch baseball, football, or any team sport: players support each other and interact with each other by high-fiving, shaking or shaking hands, bumping fists, patting each other on the head or back. They strengthen their bond by kissing and even hugging.

In professions where human interaction is paramount, such as health care and counseling, the importance of interpersonal skills cannot be overstated.

A doctor's or nurse's sympathetic touch and demeanor can provide comfort, while a counselor's empathetic listening, unlike Jane Lynch's character Dr. Linda Freeman in the TV sitcom Two and a half men Can comfort those experiencing inner struggle.

Empathy remains a competitive advantage.

In business leadership, interpersonal skills are essential for effective communication, teamwork, and collaboration. Leaders who master these skills can motivate and inspire while fostering a culture of trust and mutual respect.

As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella aptly notes, “Empathy makes you a better innovator.” Even before the pandemic, a 2018 study found that companies led by empathetic leaders outperformed competitors, emphasizing that empathy is not just a soft skill but an imperative in today's cutthroat environment. There is also a strategic advantage.

Research has highlighted that compassionate leadership is associated with higher employee satisfaction, increased innovation and financial performance. As a result, it leads to less turnover and higher productivity.

As we enter the AI ​​era, it is important to recognize the enduring importance of human touch and interpersonal skills. While technology has undoubtedly revolutionized the way we live and work, it cannot replace the power of a genuine smile or empathetic connection.

Beyond the realm of algorithms and automation lies the essence of what it means to be human — to connect, to empathize, to lead, to communicate with one another. The challenges presented by AI and digital expansion are testament to the enduring importance of human connectivity. Its eternal value resonates in our lives, shaping individual well-being and the fabric of society.

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