AI vs humans: Why soft skills are your secret weapon

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On May 13th, one major announcement created a lot of online buzz: OpenAI unveiled GPT-4o, the latest version of its ChatGPT. According to the company’s announcement, the new version is much faster and more efficient than the previous models and ‘can reason across audio, vision, and text in real time’. However, users were amazed by something else: GPT-4o is remarkably human-like. It can interpret emotions, talk, sing and even laugh. It can help you with interview preparation, sing a lullaby or play the game of rock-paper-scissors. AI is no longer just an assistant; it’s becoming a life companion.

Just a few months earlier, Microsoft aired a Super Bowl commercial with quite a similar message featuring their AI assistant, Copilot, which they introduced last year. The one-minute ad shows how AI can help all sorts of people in pursuing their dreams — from artistic endeavors to coding. A very important note here: AI does not bring their dreams to life all by itself, but it assists on this challenging journey. Whether it’s transportation, healthcare, banking or robotics, AI is revolutionizing every aspect of our lives.

Even as I’m writing this article, new tools that may forever change our everyday lives are being developed. These days, there are a lot of discussions about AI potentially replacing many jobs in the near future. According to a McKinsey report, generative AI could automate up to 70% of business activities by 2030.

OpenAI has also made an estimate that 80% of the U.S. workforce would see at least 10% of their jobs impacted by large language models. A more optimistic outlook on the future of AI suggests that it will enhance human collaboration. Rather than replacing employees, AI will change the work environment and tasks, reshape job structures, offer training and coaching and create broad opportunities for people with limited access to education.

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AI should be viewed as a partner that can often perceive, comprehend and analyze information much faster and more efficiently than humans. However, leadership, strategic management, interpersonal communication and other soft skills will continue to be exclusive human strengths.

GPT-4o can do a lot — but there are tasks that will remain uniquely human

AI can handle many tasks effortlessly — big data analysis, coding, customer support and communication and content creation, just to name a few (and more to come in time). But there are critical tasks that will remain uniquely human.


AI can certainly assist with some aspects of the creative process, but true creativity is something only humans can achieve, for several reasons. Firstly, it often involves intuition, emotion and empathy, as well as thinking outside the box and making connections between seemingly unrelated concepts. Creativity is often shaped by personal experiences and cultural background, making every individual’s creative work unique. These are the aspects that AI currently struggles to grasp fully.

Leadership and strategic management

Leadership and strategic management will continue to be driven by humans. When making decisions, people are able to consider various factors such as personal relationships or company culture. General awareness, intuition, understanding of broader contexts that lie beyond data and effective communication skills are all human traits. Think of any famous leader — Elon Musk, Steve Jobs or another successful businessman. Their success does not solely rely on data analysis and rigid logic. 

Interpersonal communication

Humans possess a crucial trait that AI is unable to replicate (although it’s definitely coming closer): Empathy. AI can’t communicate with your team members at the same level, provide solutions to their problems or offer a listening ear when necessary. Managing a team means talking to people, listening and understanding their needs and motivations. The human touch is essential to make sure that everyone is on the same page. It is safe to assume that humans will stay responsible for “connecting the dots.”

Ethical decision-making

In a highly competitive business environment, many decisions require ethical considerations. Unlike AI, which operates based on algorithms and data patterns, humans have the flexibility to navigate moral dilemmas. Recently, there have been many discussions about machine learning (ML) technologies that can teach AI empathy. But until this becomes a reality, the responsibility for ethical and moral decisions will remain with humans.

5 essential skills for the AI era and how to develop them

Of course, humans need to be embracing of AI. Here are some essential skills we must develop to get the best use of AI.

Critical thinking

Today we live in a fast-paced competitive environment where anything can change at any moment. To remain competitive, you need the ability to quickly adapt to new trends, tools and markets and stay resilient. 

How do you develop this ability? Еmbrace new experiences, practice problem-solving in different scenarios and maintain a positive attitude toward unexpected challenges. New networking opportunities can also provide fresh information and valuable insights.

Emotional intelligence

Understanding your own emotions, showing empathy and connecting with others is beyond the capabilities of AI. Emotional intelligence is essential for success, especially when you process information and present ideas and plans.

Practicing active listening and adopting a personalized approach to each project or team member can help you develop this skill. It will allow you to gather insights from meetings and other team activities, gain a deeper understanding of the processes and make more informed decisions.

Creative problem-solving

Creative problem-solving is about finding novel solutions that may not be evident at first glance — a critical skill in a world where constant change is the new normal. While AI can help you guide this process, it ultimately lacks creativity, intuition, experience and intelligence to think out of the box and approach unusual problems. For example, consider the importance of presentations and pitching. No matter how well-prepared your data is, if your pitch lacks creativity and fails to engage stakeholders, all this data will serve no purpose. 

Keeping an open mind to the wildest ideas is a must-have for developing this skill. Take part in brainstorming sessions or host them yourself — perhaps with friends or family, while discussing topics completely unrelated to work. Use mind maps as a helpful tool to stimulate ideas: Platforms such as Trello, Miro, Evernote and Figma can simplify the process of generating ideas.

Continuous learning

Sure, living in today’s world can be quite stressful; missing the news for a single day can make you feel left behind. Revolutionary technologies such as IoT, blockchain, alternate reality and big data are rapidly developing. Staying ahead of the trends requires a commitment to continuous learning. This makes upskilling (acquiring new skills relevant to your field) and reskilling (learning entirely new skills from different fields) more important than ever.

How to develop this skill: You can learn new things anywhere — visiting museums, reading news, watching TV shows or chatting with people on the street. To stay competitive in the job market, attend seminars, seek coaching or enroll in various programs. There are numerous educational platforms, tools, events and even YouTube videos available. Moreover, feel free to take advantage of the power of AI: It can help you discover courses and lectures, or even create a personalized study plan. 

AI is our ally, not a threat

The AI era unlocks amazing opportunities for us that were previously unimaginable. AI is an assistant that never gets tired and can be with us throughout our entire life journey. Yes, AI already outperforms humans in many tasks: analyzing data, handling small routine tasks and generating content in the blink of an eye. And it keeps getting better — the new version of GPT-4o is definitely a step towards human-to-human instead of just human-computer interaction.

Prioritizing the development of skills where AI currently falls short might be a successful strategy for staying ahead at this rapid pace. What’s the point of competing with machines in data analysis, if they already do it more efficiently, accurately and quickly? Instead, we should focus on uniquely human traits and soft skills — they are still our secret weapon.

Marina Minnikova is a program manager with who has worked with leading companies including Walmart Connect, Sony Pictures Entertainment and United in Gaming.


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