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svgFilipsvgDecember 12, 2019svgManagement

Shake their hand, look ‘em in the eye and deploy empathy

Global trends are impacting all professions and project management is surely no exception. Today, we are talking about AI systems that can effectively handle scheduling, reminders, and follow-ups to eliminate the need for human input. We also have expectations from IoT (Internet of Things) giving us a global network of devices that can use the Internet to communicate with one another as well as with end-users. But there is one important factor that is steadily fading away – the value of ‘Soft Skills’!

On the other side of technological impacts like AI, IoT, analytics, etc., there is a critical ingredient in successful project management: humanity. (World Economic Forum, 2016) is predicting that social skills will be one of the most in-demand job skills in 2020. The family of social skills, such as emotional intelligence and skills in coordination, teaching, and negotiating, are increasingly regarded as some of the most valuable professional assets.

As we become more adept at using the intelligence of machines to handle certain parts of our processes, this highlights a project manager’s people-focused role as an empathetic listener, anticipator of needs, adept coordinator, tactful negotiator, and motivational leader. The importance of developing essential soft skills for project management cannot be overstated. In essence, you got to relax and be a people man who above all interests can deploy empathy, put himself in the boots of the client, and really understand their needs and expectations.

Go out there, shake their hand, look ’em in the eye and have sincerity in deploying empathy. There is no better way than to be bold in communication and firmly state your ground. Audentes fortuna iuvat! (Latin for ‘Fortune favors the bold). Yes, sometimes you need luck. It’s not always that soft skills will be effective but they will surely make your project management job more comfortable. At the end of the day, you start sharing the vision of the project that the client put in front of you and there is no challenge that will be impossible to overcome. Why? Because by deploying empathy, your client is no longer just a client, you are more of a partner. They get to know you, and through you, your team, and your company.

(Marcel, 2016) made a top ten list of soft skills for business executives, which I feel is good to read and think about:

  1. Communication – oral speaking capability, written, presenting, listening, clear speech & writing.
  2. Courtesy – manners, etiquette, business etiquette, gracious, saying please and thank you, respectfully.
  3. Flexibility – adaptability, willingness to change, lifelong learner, accepts new things, adjusts, teachable.
  4. Integrity – honest, ethical, high morals, has personal values, and does what’s right.
  5. Interpersonal skills – nice, personable, sense of humor, friendly, nurturing, empathetic, has self-control, patience, sociability, warmth, and social skills.
  6. Positive attitude – optimistic, enthusiastic, encouraging, happy, and confident.
  7. Professionalism – businesslike, well-dressed, appearance, poised.
  8. Responsibility – accountable, reliable, gets the job done, resourceful, self-disciplined, wants to do well, conscientious, common sense.
  9. Teamwork – cooperative, gets along with others, agreeable, supportive, helpful, collaborative.
  10. Work ethic – hard working, willing to work, loyal, initiative, self-motivated, on time, good attendance.

The topic is simple, but the reality is far more complex. As soon as you start working on your soft skills the sooner you will have more success. So go out there and deploy some empathy!


  • Dharmalingam, N. (2018, October 1). Latest Project Management Trends in 2019. Retrieved from Whizlabs:
  • Marcel, R. M. (2016). Executive Perceptions of the Top 10 Soft Skills Needed in Today’s Workplace. Business Communication Quarterly.
  • Schmelzer, R. (2019, July 30). AI In Project Management. Retrieved from Forbes:
  • World Economic Forum. (2016). Global Challenge Insight Report: The Future of Jobs. Geneva: World Economic Forum.
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