María Teresa Yagüe Martín

Switch AI for EI.

María Teresa Yagüe Martín

I studied translation in university. And many times, both during my studies and up until today, I have had people coming at me to tell me about how this new software or app which just came up –and is super developed, complete and “accurate”– will steal translators’ jobs. My answer is always the same: no way. Could a machine get the hidden intentions we often introduce into a sentence while verbally stating a different message? Would a robot be capable of detecting irony, double meanings or jokes? What about untranslatable terms or false friends?

I truly believe a software cannot imitate the thought process of a human mind nor fully understand a context, let alone the emotional factor that a person can implicitly add to anything they say or write.

Well, the same could be applicable to any other field in which digital means are overtaking people. In the business events industry, for example, we constantly hear about digitalization, new technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) as the new indispensable elements that all events must feature in order for them to be successful and/or meaningful. I haven’t worked in this world long enough, but I have already heard of stages and setups full of screens everywhere, holograms, special effects, simulations, virtual reality devices, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, technology is here to stay whether we like or not: it represents the way that governments, companies, communications and, essentially, life works now; therefore, we need to embrace it and make the most of the multiple advantages and progress it is bringing.

However, we cannot forget about the emotional factor, the human connections and not only the digital ones. This is the reason why, together with the new and overwhelming wave of modernization, innovation and creativity, we are also seeing another wave of vintage lovers, of going back to basics and to the good old times. Basically, of recovering face-to-face contact, handwriting or phone calls in order to stimulate the considerate side of the new relationships that we establish nowadays, which could otherwise turn dangerously cold. No wonder studies within the business events industry prove that personal encounters are still the most effective way of meeting, as opposed to virtual ones (Skype videoconferences, for instance).

I recently read an article about prioritizing emotional intelligence (EI) at work, which made me think of the many ways in which a more “human” behavior could be (re)implemented in this regard. In a nutshell, it is all about supporting each other, being flexible and treating people as persons, not as production machines: guiding newcomers through the people and the how-to’s of the industry and helping them to network and grow professionally by squeezing their full potential; allowing occasional absences for private matters and remote work instead of encouraging an absurd “presentism” and late hours; conceding long-enough maternity leaves which do not lead to shaming or losing the job, etc.     

Another point mentioned in the article that sparkled some reflection in my head was about letting people be and show their true selves. Only then can someone really feel at ease in the workplace, which would enable them to perform much better and develop a stronger bond with coworkers and clients. Moreover, through these professional relationships plus the different work situations and experiences, one can become much more self-aware and thus learn from such situations in order to improve both at the personal and the business sphere.

This brings me to the recent meeting that ENITED attended with its fellow European partner agencies from the association 27Names, as another example of emotional intelligence practices at companies. The topic in this occasion was on new trends that are gaining ground against the hierarchical and careless traditional HR systems. Instead of having the last model of smart tablet, or pursuing just results and revenue at any cost, in the future we should aim for a warm environment and a nice team where everyone supports each other.

In this sense, I can proudly say that ENITED is fully committed to this vision, having decided to stay a small agency focusing on quality over quantity in terms of projects and clients.

As I said before, I am by all means not against technological progress and digitalization. I would just sum up my thoughts about the matter by stating that these machines should complement us, not substitute us. Make our lives fuller, not “dummer” because we depend on a robot that does everything for us.

And, in a world where relationships are becoming more and more impersonal in spite of internet and smartphones having brought people closer than ever, I could only advise to care for each other, because people are your most valuable asset.

Finally, a smart use of AI is thus crucial, and it depends on each one of us, through a smart use of EI.