May 22, 2020

The power of human-centrism in troubled times

Now is a good time to reflect on the qualities that make human connections thrive – human-centrism is needed now more than ever.

During these difficult times, we see a road of uncertainty ahead. The Covid-19 outbreak will not last forever, but that hasn’t stopped organizations, business leaders, and individuals from feeling the pressure to survive this pandemic and beyond.

As we are being forced to embrace digital transformation, we fear the loss of the human connections we normally create through face-to-face interactions. We face the challenge of maintaining those essential connections despite social distancing and remote working situations.

But before we get into the “how”, the first question we must tackle is the “why” — why is human-centrism so important during this time of crisis?

Shifts in behavior

As humans, we are constantly changing and adapting, but when we face a greater change than we’re used to, we also face greater shifts in our behaviors. Those shifts could be in our consumption or general habits. This shift is important to understand as a business leader or individual because it can affect our work and businesses.


People will always have some emotional connection with other people and things in their world. Understanding those emotional needs is important in our businesses as it can help us understand what we can offer to answer those needs.


During these tough times, the only way for everyone to survive and thrive — like businesses or individuals — is through our human connections.

So, how can we make the most of human-centric approaches? The answer lies in the learning and skills that support human-centrism.

These are the things we should learn and strengthen.


Under the concept of Design Thinking advanced by the Stanford, the empathy stage asks us to not only actively listen to others but also to understand their point of view. It isn’t about doing simple interviews or handing out surveys — empathy allows us to dig deep into understanding the true needs of people.

Without empathy, we’re blind to other people’s pains and needs, especially those of our customers. Sometimes, simply asking what people want isn’t enough. We need to dig deep into their pains and motivations to understand the underlying problems. Additionally, empathy can be applied to anyone, not just your customers.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotions are what make us human. But what truly sets us apart is our ability to understand and react to our own emotions and those of others. The stronger we build those abilities, the better our emotional intelligence will be.

The key to emotional intelligence is the awareness of our own emotions and how we handle them. Especially during this period, we all feel stress and pressure. How we react to these problems can affect how we manage our careers and business.


Time and time again, the mindset will be brought up — but with very good reason. In a trying situation such as the Covid-19 pandemic, it determines whether you’ll fall beneath the weight of pressure or rise by discovering new opportunities.

Creative problem-solving

Understanding the needs of people and their emotions during this current situation is just part of the formula. What we do through our newfound understanding is just as important, and this is where creative problem-solving comes in. Our natural instinct is that when we face a problem, we must fix it.

Although there are many more things to learn, these are the basic points we can begin with. If you take a closer look, these types of learning create a foundation for innovation. During these times of crisis, we cannot rely on the same way of working to survive, so we must find innovative ways to survive change.

The good news is that people can learn and develop these skills without having to strain their budget and finances. There are many resources available to support our own learning and that of the people we lead. The question lies in whether we truly want to step out of our comfort zone to develop and strengthen ourselves.

Our human connections are the critical factor that will help us survive this pandemic and future world crises together. Although the current situation can seem hopeless sometimes, we can learn to discover new opportunities and use human-centric approaches to prevail.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC – Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at