Will Robots Need the Soft Skills, Too?

I read an article this morning about robotics.  It is estimated that 30% of the workforce in Europe will be replaced in the next 20 years.  The United States will face the charge of the robotics brigade, too.  A number of restaurants are already considering the move to robotic servers.  Even lawyers are not immune to robotics entering their world.  This article will tell you more.  You can also find it here,  http://bit.ly/1YZ3zUa.

If and when this move to robotics occurs in what I call the regular workplace, in other words the middle class, opportunities for humans may become limited, and those opportunities that are available will demand ever-increasing amounts of skills.  No longer will humans be able to climb the ladder from entry level positions to higher-paying positions over a number of years.  In the future humans will need to advance their skills and look sideways for advancement.  This will require excellent communication skills and inspired performance every day. 

I listened to the McDonald's robot accepting a service order from a customer.  The robot was polite and helpful, and even had a smile on its face.  The robot's designers seem to have built into the robot soft skills very often found lacking in their human counterparts.  I must say I was pretty impressed by what I was seeing from this early version.  What could possibly be next?

My grandchildren, your grandchildren, and possibly some of your children will be facing robotic competitors in their workplace.  Some humans are already sharing the workplace with robots.  The jobs the robots take will likely be gone from human attainment forever.  So where does that leave us?  It leaves us with a highly technical, very competitive workforce.  Skills such as effective communication of all kinds - oral, silent, written, body language - and inspired performance that gains an advantage for its practitioner - as well as the Outfluence form of teamwork called The Silent Storm will be sought after by employers.  The unprepared, uncaring, disinterested employees of today will not, are not now, being tolerated.  The move is afoot to change.  

Many park benches, seaside lounges and oceanfront arcades will be filled with unemployed citizens who ignored the call to action this article is calling for.  It's time to train yourself and your young family members communication and performance skills that will be needed to compete in the years ahead.  Outfluence is offering community-based small group training to help you prepare for the changes that are arriving as you read this article.  Contact us attraining@outfluence.com for additional information.

10 Old Ideas, For a New Generation


Stay close to your family. Silent communication principles of Outfluence can help to translate family dynamics before emotions get in the way. Silence is not just nothingness. There is meaning in silence. Stay close to family situations by learning to read silence.

Read often.  Reading=knowledge=perspective=understanding=opportunity.

Make a friend. Smile, extend your hand, say hello.

Dream and pursue. Positive aspirations underwritten by strong belief and supported by hard work will bring dreams to fruition.

Respect your country. Perfection doesn’t live here but you and I do. Love, fight for, and respect your country and its citizens. Put your country and your neighbors first.

Build your foundation. Outfluence principles enable you to develop the intellectual, physical, and emotional strength to create a vision for your life and then build that life for you and for those you love. Stabilize your life by building a strong foundation.

Mentor someone. Use your life experiences to ignite another person’s passions.

Be a positive force. You reap what you sow.

Inspire your performance. “Be so good that they can’t ignore you.” - Steve Martin

Have faith. Believe that Outfluence behaviors and principles will energize your life and the lives of those around you.

Psst... Pass It On.


My wife and I were grocery shopping. A young boy was standing idly in front of a customer ticket-generating machine we wanted to access. My wife, in a gentle, friendly manner said "Excuse me, sir, may I sneak in front of you for a second?" The little boy looked up at her as he stepped aside, and she said "I like your hat." The little boy smiled and said thank you.

Now, this was a perfectly innocent exchange. The little boy learned how to interrupt someone in a positive way and he had a nice moment with an adult. The two adult women with him didn't see it that way. They looked at my wife with daggers in their eyes and, as the saying goes, if looks could kill . . .

This event occurred weeks post-Ferguson and days post-New York City, both locations having experienced police-involved deaths.

25 years earlier a similar incident happened to my wife in a grocery store. Two young children were shopping with their mother. My wife struck up a conversation with them. Their mother accurately interpreted the silent communicators of friendship and sincerity and she used her life experiences in a positive way and chose to recognize an opportunity for friendship. Those two children eventually graduated from college and became life-long friends of our family.

What are we passing on to our children? Are we passing on the mistakes of our predecessors or are we teaching them how to build on the blocks of success that have been achieved in the midst of fits of violent disharmony?

In our program for high school students titled "You Are Here . . . now what?" we teach communication from the perspective of the sender of the message as well as from the perspective of the receiver of the message, and we spend time discussing the art of crafting a message. We meet with the students for one hour per week. Communication is taught over an entire semester each of the four high school years. We cover communication in great detail, all types of communication, and we bolster it with activities. When we are finished, students are armed with the tools needed to accurately interpret messages and they are able to respond appropriately.

I will never forget a lesson learned early in life. An elderly gentleman told me, "Son, you will always get exactly what you're looking for." What he meant was if you are looking to pick a fight with someone you will find a reason to fight. If you are looking to overlook imperfections and make a friend, you will find a way to make a friend. The youngest among us are looking to adults as examples of how to live life. We are certainly not perfect examples. We make mistakes. Our children will learn our lessons, good and bad, as we pass them on.

For additional information about Outfluence, LLC or to learn how to bring You Are Here . . . Now What? to your high school, visit our Contact Page, and drop us a line.

What Not To Do

A videographer arrived at a legal proceeding dressed in tennis shoes, blue jeans, open-collared shirt, and no sport coat. All of the other professionals were attired appropriately in business suits and related professional apparel. During a recess in the proceeding, the videographer engaged one of the parties in a conversation in which he expressed the fact that he only did legal video to keep busy, that his real passion was in making television pilots. He said, in language that matched the subject matter in vulgarity, that he was currently working on a pilot following the tasteless and crude Girls Gone Wild format. By his insensitivity to the environment in which he was working, the videographer silently branded himself as unprofessional, vulgar, and possibly untrustworthy.

The bottom line? Maintain professionalism, no matter what. Be aware of how you come across, to anyone, because everyone is watching.

(This is a story from Outfluence, The Better Way to Influence, which is the basis for our high school program You Are Here . . . now what?".)

Knowledge is Power: Communication History


We enjoy our traditions.  Traditions in communication have a fascinating history.  In America, and in many other countries, business greetings begin with a handshake.  This is a Western tradition with origins in ancient Greece or the Middle East.  They shook hands as a way of making a pledge.  In Russia the handshake is more of a form of male competition - a sign of confidence and power.  In the United States the earliest handshakes were between tribes.  They were open-handed to demonstrate that neither party was carrying a weapon.

Perhaps our favorite communicator is the kiss.  In its earliest days the kiss, or bringing mouths together, signified the joining of two souls.  In ancient Hebrew the word for breath also means soul.  Ancient Egyptians thought of kissing as the giving of breath, or giving life.  The Romans are credited with turning the kiss into a sophisticated form of communication.

The study of body language gained interest in the latter part of the 20th Century both academically and among the general public.  However, in the history of body language Francis Bacon got us started.  Francis Bacon was an English philosopher, politician and scientist.   In a website titled "all-about-body-language" I found this:   Writing in Of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Human - first published in 1605 - Bacon had the following to say about gestures of the body when discussing the concept of knowledge of ourselves.

Aristotle hath very ingeniously and diligently handled the factures of the body, but not the gestures of the body, which are no less comprehensible by art, and of greater use and advantage. For the lineaments of the body do disclose the disposition and inclination of the mind in general; but the motions of the countenance and parts do not only so, but do further disclose the present humour and state of the mind and will.

For as your majesty saith most aptly and elegantly, “As the tongue speaketh to the ear so the gesture speaketh to the eye.” And, therefore, a number of subtle persons, whose eyes do dwell upon the faces and fashions of men, do well know the advantage of this observation, as being most part of their ability; neither can it be denied, but that it is a great discovery of dissimulations, and a great direction in business.

In our book Outfluence®, The Better Way to Influence, we added Constant Messaging® to the lexicon.  Constant Messaging broadens the body language concept to include the messages we send to others from what we read, what we watch, our associations, our habits, our vocabulary and more.  

Outfluence® is a communication concept and its power lies in silence.