Getting Social Helps Solve Problems

I am on vacation today, so I am reposting a popular post from last year.

Meeting face-to-face can often solve problems that social media cannot.
Meeting face-to-face can often solve problems that social media cannot.

In today’s Web-crossed world “getting social” implies logging onto Facebook, Google, or Twitter (or any number of other sites) and having a “conversation” with someone. However, the advice of neuroscientist Sam Wang is that if you find yourself in an intellectual rut the best thing to do is to get out of your office and interact with people. He says, getting social, the non-Internet kind of social can help you solve problems.

Divergent Thinking

Meghan Erickson, who wrote about Wang in, Power Up Your Brain: Myth vs. Reality, says “Divergent thinking is the practice of solving problems in unexpected ways, a fundamental first step to discovery.” And humans are particularly adept at social learning. Face-to-face interaction facilitates social learning. She says “Collaboration helps us adopt smarter, more creative solutions in less time than it would if we attacked every problem in isolation. That’s why Wang believes that one of the best ways to confront a tough task is to cross paths with colleagues.” Wang leaves his office every day to eat lunch outside the building in order to interact with other. He says it is the real-life version of social networking sites. Wang says “As much as people like to talk about social networking sites, personal networking between live people, face-to-face, I still far more effective than any online kind of interaction.
Wang says that by ourselves we are very bad at seeing a solution for our problems and understanding where we will be any significant time out in the future. His suggestion is to find people who have faced the same or similar challenges in their past and to then learn from them what we might be able to do in the future.
Chatting on social sites certainly has its strong points and I am not advocating we stop using them. But our evolution has created us to be “social” (barring the occasional anomaly) and in that evolution “social” has meant face-to-face. So if you are struggling with work problems meet with other HR people and learn from their experience. If you are struggling with personal issues the same advice stands. No one need struggle with an issue all alone. Someone always gone before you, and therein lies the value of “Internet social”, finding those people so you can put in some face time.
It is about time for another “Tweet up” isn’t it?

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