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Are you more valuable than a robot?

The skills that the economy values are changing, which means the skills we always thought would get us ahead may no longer do the job. Technology is taking over many jobs, including some high-value ones, previously done by people. Knowledge is being commoditized. As jobs and pay struggle to increase even as economies grow, an important factor appears to be that many workers possess only the high-value skills of yesterday, not the new high-value skills that employers increasingly want. These are the deeply human skills of personal interaction – empathy, social sensitivity, storytelling, collaborating, relationship building.


The following assessment measures your readiness to create value as the economy changes. Many of the questions are adapted from scholarly scales used to measure interpersonal skills or tendencies. Completing the assessment takes only a couple of minutes. Your score and what it means follows the assessment.


Read each statement carefully and rate on this scale how frequently you feel or act in the manner described.


One: Empathy


1. When someone else is feeling excited, I tend to get excited too.



2. It upsets me to see someone being treated disrespectfully.



3. I have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.



4. When a friend starts to talk about his\her problems, I try to steer the conversation towards something else.



-Adapted from the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire


Two: Storytelling


5. In your opinion, what influences people most effectively?



6. How much do you read fiction or narrative non-fiction?



7. How comfortable and confident are you when speaking in public?



8. How comfortable are you in talking publicly about yourself and your experiences?




Three: Creativity and Innovativeness


9. How much time do you spend exploring and learning in fields entirely unrelated to your work?



10. What is the level of trust among members of your work team?



11. How diverse have been the experiences of your work team members?



12. How much time do the members of your work team spend engaging with one another?




Four: Building Relationships


13. How would you rate your ability to converse for ten minutes with a stranger?



14. At the end of an initial meeting, how likely are you to remember someone’s first name?



15. In general, how do you most like to interact with others?



16. How much time, on average, do you spend interacting with digital devices?




Five: Pro-social orientation


17. I have given money to a stranger who needed it (or asked me for it).



18. I have allowed someone to go ahead of me in a lineup (in the supermarket, at a copy machine, at a fast-food restaurant).



19. I have helped an acquaintance to move households.



20. I have helped a classmate or coworker whom I did not know that well with an assignment when my knowledge was greater than his or hers.



- Adapted from Rushton, J. P., Chrisjohn, R.D., & Fekken, G. C. (1981). The altruistic personality and the self-report altruism sale. Personality and Individual Differences, 1, 292-302.
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