Artificial Intelligence (AI) has swiftly moved from a futuristic vision to an everyday reality in our workspaces. This seismic shift prompts a crucial reflection: What skills will be our anchor in an AI-dominated future? The answer lies in Emotional Intelligence (EI) - a skill set that companies like Imago in Fresno, CA, actively nurture. During a recent visit with Edgar Blunt, Founder and CEO of IMAGO, I gained insights. This conversation inspired this blog post and delves into why EI is becoming increasingly vital for job security and fostering inclusive, welcoming work environments in the AI era.

The Pivotal Role of Emotional Intelligence

The integration of AI into various sectors is revolutionizing how businesses operate, from automating routine tasks to making complex decisions. While AI can process and analyze data at unprecedented rates, it lacks a nuanced understanding of human emotions, cultural dynamics, and ethical considerations. This transformation, while beneficial, also raises concerns about job displacement. However, there’s a silver lining – jobs requiring high levels of Emotional Intelligence are less likely to be usurped by AI.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) – the nuanced ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to our own emotions and those of others, is a uniquely human attribute that AI cannot replicate. People with strong EI are adept at navigating social complexities, understanding nuanced human behaviors, and building strong interpersonal relationships - skills crucial in any workplace.

The Intersection with Inclusion and Belonging

In workplaces increasingly augmented by AI, fostering inclusive and welcoming environments becomes paramount. AI systems, if not carefully designed, can perpetuate existing prejudices. EI is the key to achieving this, as it enables individuals to understand and appreciate diverse perspectives, cultivate empathy, and promote fairness. By prioritizing EI, organizations can ensure that their use of AI enhances, rather than undermines, workplace diversity and inclusivity.

As we navigate the complexities of the AI era, the demand for emotionally intelligent professionals is set to soar. Those equipped with EI skills will find themselves at an advantage, able to navigate the evolving workplace dynamics effectively. Companies like IMAGO are leading the way to ensure this future is technologically advanced, emotionally intelligent, and inclusive. More importantly, they will play a pivotal role in shaping work cultures that are not only technologically advanced but also profoundly human, inclusive, and welcoming.

Imago: A Beacon of EI in Education and Workforce Development

Since its inception in 2011, IMAGO has been pioneering the integration of EI into education with innovative ed-tech solutions. They focus on embedding social-emotional learning into their curriculum, preparing students academically and emotionally for future challenges. Their holistic approach embeds social-emotional learning to equip students for the multifaceted challenges of the future.

Central to IMAGO’s philosophy is the belief that “Language shapes our reality,” a concept deeply rooted in the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. During my insightful visit, Edgar illuminated how IMAGO is elevating the role of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in molding our daily interactions and perceptions. He highlighted the often subconscious nature of our questioning and its critical role in fostering inclusivity and a sense of belonging. Traditional career-focused queries like “What do you want to be?” often arise from an action-oriented identity framework. This perspective, while common, may inadvertently trigger anxiety and constrict our self-perception and comprehension of others, especially in diverse contexts. In a world where career paths are rapidly evolving or newly formed, such questions can unintentionally limit our sense of potential and inclusiveness.

Edgar and his team at IMAGO propose a transformative approach with four alternative questions:

  1. “What do you do that you have always done and will always do?” This question reframes the conversation from a focus on action-oriented identity to one of purpose and continuity.
  2. “What three questions would you ask your 18-year-old self?” Rather than assuming wisdom solely accumulates with age, this inquiry invites a reflection that values the insights and perspectives of our younger selves, encouraging a temporal and identity shift.
  3. “If you had a magic wand and could solve any problem, what would it be?” This question shifts from an action-based identity to exploring the individual’s deeper passions and values.
  4. “How do you want to be remembered?” This question redirects the focus from a career-centric legacy to one rooted in personal values and the impact on others.

By reimagining these questions, IMAGO encourages us to transition our focus from ‘doing’ to ‘being.’ This shift fosters a more profound understanding and appreciation of each person’s unique life path, promoting a sense of belonging that resonates with the core tenets of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Learn more about IMAGO’s innovative approach here.

The rise of AI in our workspaces is not a signal of obsolescence for human workers but a call to embrace our most human traits – those encapsulated in emotional intelligence. As we embrace this new era, we must recognize EI as pivotal for job security and a cornerstone in crafting work environments where inclusivity and belonging are ideals and everyday realities.

Further Reading and Exploration

Imago is an online learning platform for K-12 students that uses a social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum. Learn more about us here.
Permission to Feel
The mental well-being of children and adults is shockingly poor. Marc Brackett, author of Permission to Feel, knows why. And he knows what we can do. “We have a crisis on our hands, and its victims are our children.“Marc Brackett is a professor in Yale University’s Child Study Center and founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. In his 25 years as an emotion scientist, he has developed a remarkably effective plan to improve the lives of children and adults – a blueprint for understanding our emotions and using them wisely so that they help, rather than hinder, our success and well-being. The core of his approach is a legacy from his childhood, from an astute uncle who gave him permission to feel. He was the first adult who managed to see Marc, listen to him, and recognize the suffering, bullying, and abuse he’d endured. And that was the beginning of Marc’s awareness that what he was going through was temporary. He wasn’t alone, he wasn’t stuck on a timeline, and he wasn’t “wrong” to feel scared, isolated, and angry. Now, best of all, he could do something about it.In the decades since, Marc has led large research teams and raised tens of millions of dollars to investigate the roots of emotional well-being. His prescription for healthy children (and their parents, teachers, and schools) is a system called RULER, a high-impact and fast-effect approach to understanding and mastering emotions that has already transformed the thousands of schools that have adopted it. RULER has been proven to reduce stress and burnout, improve school climate, and enhance academic achievement. This book is the culmination of Marc’s development of RULER and his way to share the strategies and skills with readers around the world. It is tested, and it works.This book combines rigor, science, passion and inspiration in equal parts. Too many children and adults are suffering; they are ashamed of their feelings and emotionally unskilled, but they don’t have to be. Marc Brackett’s life mission is to reverse this course, and this book can show you how.

Explore the transformative power of emotional intelligence through Yale professor Marc Brackett's RULER approach. This insightful book unlocks the secrets to understanding and mastering our emotions, providing practical tools for emotional well-being in personal and professional settings. Perfect for anyone seeking to enhance emotional literacy in themselves and others.

Emotional Intelligence
#1 BESTSELLER • The groundbreaking book that redefines what it means to be smart, with a new introduction by the author “A thoughtfully written, persuasive account explaining emotional intelligence and why it can be crucial.”—USA TodayEveryone knows that high IQ is no guarantee of success, happiness, or virtue, but until Emotional Intelligence, we could only guess why. Daniel Goleman’s brilliant report from the frontiers of psychology and neuroscience offers startling new insight into our “two minds”—the rational and the emotional—and how they together shape our destiny.Drawing on groundbreaking brain and behavioral research, Goleman shows the factors at work when people of high IQ flounder and those of modest IQ do surprisingly well. These factors, which include self-awareness, self-discipline, and empathy, add up to a different way of being smart—and they aren’t fixed at birth. Although shaped by childhood experiences, emotional intelligence can be nurtured and strengthened throughout our adulthood—with immediate benefits to our health, our relationships, and our work. The twenty-fifth-anniversary edition of Emotional Intelligence could not come at a better time—we spend so much of our time online, more and more jobs are becoming automated and digitized, and our children are picking up new technology faster than we ever imagined. With a new introduction from the author, the twenty-fifth-anniversary edition prepares readers, now more than ever, to reach their fullest potential and stand out from the pack with the help of EI.

This groundbreaking book introduces the concept of emotional intelligence and its importance in personal and professional success, laying the foundation for understanding its role in an AI-integrated world.

Artificial Intelligence in Education
“The landscape for education has been rapidly changing in the last years: demographic changes affecting the makeup of families, multiple school options available to children, wealth disparities, the global economy demanding new skills from workers, and continued breakthroughs in technology are some of the factors impacting education. Given these changes, how can schools continue to prepare students for the future? In a world where information is readily available online, how can schools continue to be relevant? The emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has exacerbated the need to have these conversations. Its impact on education and the multiple possibilities that it offers are putting pressure on educational leaders to reformulate the school curriculum and the channels to deliver it. The book “Artificial Intelligence in Education, Promises and Implications for Teaching and Learning” by the Center for Curriculum Redesign immerses the reader in a discussion on what to teach students in the era of AI and examines how AI is already demanding much needed updates to the school curriculum, including modernizing its content, focusing on core concepts, and embedding interdisciplinary themes and competencies with the end goal of making learning more enjoyable and useful in students’ lives. The second part of the book dives into the history of AI in education, its techniques and applications -including the way AI can help teachers be more effective, and finishes on a reflection about the social aspects of AI. This book is a must-read for educators and policy-makers who want to prepare schools to face the uncertainties of the future and keep them relevant.” --Amada Torres, VP, Studies, Insights, and Research, National Association of Independent School (NAIS) “The rapid advances in technology in recent decades have already brought about substantial changes in education, opening up new opportunities to teach and learn anywhere anytime and providing new tools and methods to improve learning outcomes and support innovative teaching and learning.Research into artificial intelligence and machine learning in education goes back to the late 1970s. Artificial intelligence methods were generally employed in two ways: to design and facilitate interactive learning environments that would support learning by doing, and to design and implement tutoring systems by adapting instructions with respect to the students’ knowledge state.But this is just the beginning. As Artificial Intelligence in Education shows, AI is increasingly used in education and learning contexts. The collision of three areas - data, computation and education - is set to have far-reaching consequences, raising fundamental questions about the nature of education: what is taught and how it is taught. Artificial Intelligence in Education is an important, if at times disturbing, contribution to the debate on AI and provides a detailed analysis on how it may affect the way teachers and students engage in education. The book describes how artificial intelligence may impact on curriculum design, on the individualisation of learning, and on assessment, offering some tantalising glimpses into the future (the end of exams, your very own lifelong learning companion) while not falling victim to tech-hype. The enormous ethical, technical and pedagogical challenges ahead are spelt out, and there is a real risk that the rapid advances in artificial intelligence products and services will outstrip education systems’ capacity to understand, manage and integrate them appropriately. As the book concludes: “We can either leave it to others (the computer scientists, AI engineers and big tech companies) to decide how artificial intelligence in education unfolds, or we can engage in productive dialogue.“I commend this book to anyone concerned with the future of education in a digital world.” --Marc Durando, Executive Director, European Schoolnet

For those interested in the intersection of AI and education, this book provides a comprehensive overview of AI's current and potential impact on teaching and learning.