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Why AI will demand we raise our negotiating ability

How we look is not necessarily how we feel. I remember one participant on a course telling me that he had a naturally ‘smiley’ face which he couldn’t change even when he was delivering a very serious or downbeat message. At least he knew that there was a disconnect, often many of us don’t!

From our expressions people will make assumptions about how we feel when we interact with them, and it has consequences - how they treat us (and subsequently how we then treat them), and then there's the ongoing state of our relationship.

In a recent negotiating scenario, the Savage Macbeth Emotional Awareness Tool (E.A.T.) showed a participant was viewed as consistently much more ‘intense’ by respondents compared to the individual’s own self-assessment. Interestingly, no deal was recorded in the scenario.

Now to the bit where emotional intelligence (EI) meets artificial intelligence (AI).

A recent article entitled ‘EQ Declines, How Business Leaders Can Leverage AI to Turn the Tides’, asserts that human emotional intelligence has deteriorated over the last 50 years. Apparently, both our EQ and IQ have been negatively impacted by the ever-advancing world of social media and always-on computing - experiences that negate the need for thoughtful emotional input (excluding those of course who love to rant and offload on certain online platforms).

AI it seems, may help us with this issue before too long. Artificial intelligence is undoubtedly getting smarter, soon more than just our words will be analysed by ‘tone deaf’ devices like Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant etc. As words represent only 7% of human communication, this development would seem overdue. Soon we’ll be subjected to analysis such as ‘tonal’ voice recognition – a potential game changer when working out what people really mean. This tonal area (tone, pitch, volume, inflection) represents 38% of human communication by comparison.

AI tonal voice recognition won’t give us all the answers though, there are other areas such as visual (emotional expressions and body language), that are at varying stages of development. These represent 55% of human communication. The challenge will be to combine the analysis of all these elements together where they can be assessed in real time. It shouldn’t take long though, as the voice technology industry alone is projected to grow to a staggering $55B by 2026.

Going forwards, we need to take responsibility for our own individual emotional intelligence when being assessed by human or artificial intelligence (If you don’t know how you feel – how do you expect the bot to know?). It will be vitally important in our commercial conversations that we can accurately assess how we feel; only by doing this will we be able to deftly manage and convey the intended delivery of our message. Failure to do this when we’re interacting with AI (or humans) may lead to assumptions which could negatively impact our deals, share prices or relationships!

Of course, if development goes the whole nine yards, we could end up with AI vs AI negotiations, in which case Savage Macbeth will either be looking to diversify, or I’ll be looking for a new job!

Sam Macbeth, 18th August 2022

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