TED Talks on Social Ties

My action plan focused on networking, but that wasn’t exactly the inspiration I was looking for. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted so I browsed TED’s Friendship and Relationships categories to find these talks.

“…villagers lives constantly intersect.”

This is one of the best talks I’ve seen in a while. It’s funny, Pinker is well spoken, and she has a plethora of data to back up her assertions. She starts with her study of longevity in Sardinia. These anecdotes from the village bring the data alive.

One study shows that the most powerful predictors of long lifespans are close relationships and social integration (how many people you interact with throughout the day). She also sites resources that show in person interaction engages more of your brain and different chemical reactions than online interactions produce. One conclusion is that in general women live longer than men because they prioritize these face to face relationships. As few as 3 stable relationships would be enough to see benefits in your health.

“Come back to me.”

Menon’s talk is engaging and full of practical tips for expanding your social horizons. It won’t happen by accident. You need to go out of your way to allow yourself to bump into new people. We also have natural filters so her next tip is to interact with people you initially find boring or annoying. There are also times when it’s easy to reach out to your network, but we should be brave and also reach out when times are hard. Her assertion that people are partners, not resources is especially poignant.

“…genuine emotional connections…”

Strangers are not always dangerous, and we don’t need to be afraid of interacting with people we don’t know. Stark maintains we should try to see people as individuals and get others to see us that way as well. Fleeting intimacy with strangers can have profound impacts and help to positively disrupt our everyday lives. She provides a number of examples of how to approach strangers without completely breaking social norms, and challenges us to try these out in our own lives. 

These talks have given me confidence in continuing this habit. It’s hard to introduce myself to new people, but these talks lay out all of the benefits I could realize if I step out of my comfort zone.

Have these videos inspired you to talk to new people? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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