We flourish when we use our social intelligence to create strong friendships and a social network. I will never forget the day I called my friend, Ria. I was feeling panicked because one of our adult children’s lives had gone down the toilet. She said, “You’re strong. All you need is someone to hold you while you cry.” She arrived at the door and took me into her arms! Yes, I cried my eyes out! Then she left and went back to her duties at the Calgary Counselling Centre.
Wikipedia tells us Social intelligence is the capacity to effectively negotiate complex social relationships and environments.
In the blog post, 8 Reasons Not to Delete Negative People from Your Life! I wrote about curbing the thought to reject people because they struggle. However, we want to minimize time with those who take us for granted, only connect when they want something or have negative or toxic attitudes and behaviors.
Daniel Goleman, in his book, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, made it clear. “We are hardwired for connection!” However, some of us connect better than others.
We want to aim to develop friendships with those who have the ability and willingness to uplift, encourage, and support us. They can help save our buns, increase our success, be there during tough times, and enhance our well-being. We can develop friendships in our community, on social media, at work, indeed wherever we go.
Many people have been told to keep their work relationships at arm’s length and to not become too friendly with our co-workers. Indeed, senior scientist and adviser to Gallup, Tom Rath, reports that about one-third of the 80,000 managers and leaders believe in the old adage, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” He also discovered in a survey of five million people in nearly five hundred organizations that employees were happiest when they had a best friend at work.
While acknowledging the negative consequences of some workplace friendships, Rath enthusiastically encourages the development of a workplace buddy, someone with whom you can congratulate and commiserate.
He reports that the over 30 percent of employees who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged at work, be more productive, be more engaging with clients, be more innovative and be supported to do their best every day. Surprisingly, Rath also discovered, “Employees who have a close friendship with their manager are more than 2.5 times as likely to be satisfied with their job.” These findings provide significant support to the theory that social supports provide a key resilient-strengthening and protective factor.
Here is more research on the advantages of workplace friendships and social support. Daniel Kahneman and colleagues (A Survey Method for Characterizing Daily Life Experience: The Day Reconstruction Method) assessed how nearly a thousand employed women enjoyed or did not enjoy their daily activities. They ranked the desirable activities like this:
- Spouse or partner
- Clients or customers
- Being alone
- Very last was commuting to work and home
Here are some ideas on how to create friendships, stronger relationships, and a supportive social network:
How to Develop Friendships, Relationships, and a Social Network
- If you are in an intimate coupleship avoid taking your partner for granted. If your interactions are emotionally wounding, seek help. If your partner is emotionally and/or physically wounding get help right now . . . or get out! Ideally, as the marital researcher, John Gottman encourages, ensure that your interactions are at least five uplifting comments or gestures to every downer.
- Let friends know they are important to you. Remember their birthdays. Call them to catch up on the news. Invite them to dinner, a movie or just to hang out. I love time in our garden for a visit.
- Women often like to gather in groups to merely chat. It is what they have done since circling the fire of the cave while the men were out slaying a beast or two for dinner. Men often bond while doing an activity together; often something do to with sports or adventure. Now before you call me sexist, sex differences have been documented as in the Tend and Befriend research.
- When times are tough for others, lend a hand. Suggest how you can help. Avoid, “Call me if I can help.” That is just another job on the hurting person’s To Do list. Offer by saying something like, “Would you like me to pick you up and take you to dinner or bring a meal over?”
- If you want new friends, choose good-fit environments to meet them. Join an association in your field, a spiritual community or volunteer for a cause that is important to you. That way you will more likely meet people with similar values.
- Learn to attentively listen and authentically share with those in your circle. Do not shy away from saying, “I love you.” The older I get, the freer I become with this phrase, but you have to check other people’s understanding of your use of the word, love and genuinely mean it!
- Clue into how others feel. Take a little quiz at Lab in the Wild to help you pick up on the people’s emotional state.
- Use internet Social Media platforms such as Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends. Use LinkedIn to make business connections.
- Honor differences of feelings, beliefs and personalities such as introverted preferences and extroverted preferences.
- Have a variety of friends, acquaintances, co-workers, family, and neighbors to whom you feel connected in different ways for different reasons. As the saying goes, Different folks for all seasons and reasons.
- Give and receive support.
- Be willingly to receive feedback and give feedback with kindness.
- Develop friendships at work and outside of work with appropriate boundaries for the different situations; different friends for different reasons.
Please share with us how you create friendships and strengthen your support network. OK?