But besides seeking professional help, are there any stay-home options to help people overcome this problem?
Introducing MIT's Automated Coach
In a study with 90 MIT undergraduates, the subjects went through simulated job interviews before and after receiving this training.
Those who got the feed - back from this automated system, were rated as better candidates for the job than those that did not!
A new software developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) just might be one of them. Designed to run on an ordinary laptop, MACH (short for My Automated Conversation coacH), uses a computer-generated onscreen face, along with facial, speech, and behaviour analysis and synthesis software, to simulate face-to-face conversations. What is most notable though, is that the software provides users with feedback on their interactions.
In a world where EQ (short for emotional quotient) is becoming as equally prized as IQ (short for intelligence quotient), interpersonal skills are now being touted as the key to being successful at work and at home. “How we appear and how we convey our feelings to others define us. But there isn’t much help out there to improve on that segment of interaction.” Hence the development of MACH, says Hoque.
| || |
A potential issue with MACH is that “users could be lead into a false sense of security thinking that they’ve overcome their social phobia because they perform well in MACH.”, remarks Annas Tan Qing Yan, 21 who adds that “it might not translate to actual results.”
Others, like Eunice Cheng Shyng Ting, 21, also believe that automated coaches simulate scenarios which do not portray the same level of volatility as in a real conversation and that users have an unrealistically greater control over the flow of conversation.
Though, it is MACH’s automated aspect that Hoque argues is its strength. “It is easier to tell the brutal truth through the [software]”, he says, “because it’s objective.”
“I think that it is still useful, especially for those preparing for job interviews because such opportunities are less common,” notes Rinson Lai, 57. Lai’s experience as a Senior Manager for close to a decade has seen him interview various job candidates, some of which have faltered under the pressure by stuttering, fidgeting and even blanking out. “It’s not something that can’t be solved through constant practice.” He adds.
Personally, I feel that a staged automated-applied approach would be most effective. The automated coach might be better suited for those who want to try practicing basic communication techniques while those who have become more confident can move on and apply what they’ve learnt in a real conversation.
What about you? Would you give MACH a try?
by Sandy Lai