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Advantages & Disadvantages of Solving Problems Individually

While there's often a real push toward group problem-solving, there should be an equal value placed on solving problems individually. Moreover, increased advances in technology require more individual problem-solving skills. Learning to effectively solve problems individually can promote the go-getters at work, or even make you more attractive to a potential romantic partner because of your independence. Academically, solving problems individually can lead to academic achievement, since writing essays in college requires deep introspection and individual analysis. Conversely, there are plenty of drawbacks to solving problems individually.
Advantage --- Self-Esteem
Part of a young child's self-esteem comes from learning to solve problems individually. The website Love Our Children USA argues that high self-esteem and independent problem-solving go hand in hand. This philosophy can extend into an individual's adult years as well. Whenever one accomplishes a task successfully and independently, there's usually a great sense of satisfaction and pride.
Advantage --- Decreased Competition
Another advantage of individual problem-solving is that there is a decreased sense of competition common in group projects. Often, this competition occurs subconsciously. Since many egos are involved in group work, much of the energy is spent diffusing tensions and conflicts. Gary Hadler writes that individuals link their ideas to themselves. Hence, when a person's idea is squashed in the group, an individual cannot help but take it personally. Instead of being constructive, this individual goes on to sabotage others' ideas. Not only do individuals become drained, but the "creative energy" of the group is drained as well. Problem-solving individually avoids all of the group politics. If there is competition in individual problem-solving, it is against one's self. Solving problems individually usually yields quicker and more efficient solutions to problems.
Disadvantage --- Teamwork
Despite the draining office politics of group work, resolving these group conflicts and tensions effectively fosters skills that will go beyond that group project. Humans are social creatures by nature, and no one can live in isolation for very long. Learning to work in a group fosters essential teamwork skills. Group problem-solvers also see improved instances of communication skills. When group conflicts are absolved, individuals can learn to separate their ideas from their egos, higher levels of respect and to listen to their partners more effectively.
Disadvantage --- Fewer Solutions
Even though an individual can arrive at solutions quickly and efficiently, often her solutions are limited. A benefit of working in a group is that there is a constant exchange of ideas. For better or worse, these ideas are still unique ideas. No two individuals think exactly the same or approach the project from the same angle. Problem-solving individually does not have the constant flux of creativity. One is limited to his ideas and is rarely challenged when he works alone.



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