How to utilize social media, in today’s world of work, can be quite overwhelming to the average brain. Things have changed so rapidly with how we communicate, both in and outside of the workplace, that our brains are simply overwhelmed with new data. This rapid societal change has literally turned our work worlds upside down. Neuroscientists have found that the brain must go through four sequential steps, when trying to learn anything new, so it can properly transition itself to a higher functioning level.
At first, the brain feels “Unconsciously Incompetent” in its ability to even approach learning something new, such as how to use social media in a work environment. The brain feels clueless, so it takes on the belief that “ignorance is bliss” and avoids the subject all together. Attempting to learn a subject of this magnitude can make an individual feel too overwhelmed, so instead of coming up with a game plan to embark on this learning journey, they avoid the topic all together. They might say something like, “The reason I don’t have a Facebook account is because I don’t think any of us should use social media! It’s seems like one big waste of time.”
Next, the brain enters a state of, “Conscious Incompetence”, where the brain realizes how much it doesn’t know but feels almost incapable of taking in all this new information. The individual makes the attempt to learn, but finds the learning curve steeper than expected. They feel awkward, confused, frustrated, and even fearful of exemplifying their newly acquired knowledge and applying it in a real work setting. Maybe they’ve gotten the courage to create some kind of online presence, but still feel totally inadequate with their skill level. The brain finds this step extremely challenging because it’s filled with such a high level of discomfort.
Step number three is when the brain starts to see progress and feels “Consciously Competent” in using social media. The individual, at this stage in the learning journey, starts feeling accomplished. They find themselves utilizing social media on a regular basis, even in professional settings. They no longer feel fearful or overwhelmed by the subject matter.
Finally, the brain starts to go on auto-pilot, now “Unconsciously Competent”. It now can intuitively and automatically apply the learning because it’s had the proper amount of time to embed the data into the long-term memory of the brain. Being “Unconsciously Competent” gives the individual the confidence to expand their horizons, share their ideas with others, and figure out better ways to use social media in their specific line of work.
We live in such a different market place than we did in the past. People just can’t work the same way they did, before the social media invasion. We have no choice but to learn. By “labeling” our feelings, understanding our resistance, and giving ourselves adequate time to process new information, we can start (and keep) moving forward.
What stage are you at, and how have you progressed from one to the next?
Guest blogger Wendy Passer has been studying consumer behavior for over 25 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism, from the University of Kansas, and holds a certification in brain based coaching skills. She has held multiple leadership positions in the Jewish Community, trying to move mindset forward. Presently, she is serving as Chair of her temple’s educational think tank; CSI Squared, which is funded by The Jewish Federation of Detroit and The Alliance for Jewish Education. She lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, with Mike, her husband of 24 years, and their two teenage daughters; Rachel & Hannah. Click here for more information on the four stages of competence.