Jonas Grafström and I chat about Adam Smith in the workplace. The chat is based on a paper “Adam Smith and Human Resources” by me, published by the American Enterprise Institute (and in Swedish in Ekonomisk Debatt).


How can the thinking of Adam Smith help with challenges in work and employment? What skills should employers look for?

Smith discussed what we may call sympathetic deftness, akin to social intelligence or soft skills. There are two sides to sympathetic deftness: The amiable side is deftness in entering into the situation of another. The respectable side is deftness in enabling others to enter into your situation.

But continuing upward in virtue calls for deftness in both the amiable and the respectable. Work, business, and trade are schools of virtue.

Smith is therapy, self-help. He affords a rich understanding of sentiments, sympathy, and virtues. Here the focus is on the workplace. The video gives some introduction, but the paper says more about using Adam Smith to improve your career, productivity, and sense of meaning –and your love of life, which David Hume mentioned as one of the calm passions.