This isn’t my idea. It isn’t my story.
I’ve been a little delinquent on my podcast listening lately. Since I decided to limit myself to only podcasts from which I’d gain personal growth, I’ve experienced this interesting phenomenon: every podcast I listen to is really meaningful to me. That was the point, right? Well. I hadn’t really accounted for the fact that I’d need some time to digest everything I was listening because it was so meaningful to me. Duh.
To the topic at hand: cultivating casual relationships.
Gretchen Rubin and her sister and co-host Elizabeth Craft presented this as their try this at home on Happier podcast this week.
Here’s a link to the show notes for this episode, including the article that inspired the subject’s inclusion: Why You Need a Network of Low-Stakes, Casual Friendships.
“Weak ties”, as they are so unappealingly referred to are the relationships you have with people you see regularly, but that never really develop into more than casual acquaintance. Your regular barista or waiter, your hairdresser, people you see at the dog park or school pick-up, your gym trainer, mail delivery person, neighbours, etc. These all qualify as weak ties. You know them, but you don’t really know them.
I’d read about weak ties being beneficial in search of new jobs. The more weak ties you have, the more you can increase the opportunities you are exposed to. At the same time, since your weak ties are probably less similar to you than your strongest ties are, they stretch your reach into places beyond where you’d normally go.
What I didn’t know? That people who have more weak ties, they feel happier. That is attributed to a better feeling of being surrounded by goodwill and stronger feelings of connection within their community. In addition, Gretchen pointed out that the more familiar we are with someone, the more we will like them.
“We have an acquaintance at work that we connect and talk about work projects, or dog-walking friends. It helps to have these different kinds of people in our lives to add different kinds of support.”
I love the phrase that Liz used when she referred to “investing in the people around you.” That’s checking in to see how they’re doing, getting to know a little more about them and paying closer attention to who actually is in your orbit.
Sometimes this is easy for me, others times it challenges every bone in my severely introverted body, but I think I am going to be more mindful of how I cultivate my casual relationships because as I’ve been opening up to this possibility more and more, it actually has felt more satisfying.
Funny story! WHILE I was writing this post, I got a call from Kevin. Yesterday, he’d tweeted about his search for a particular piece of obsolete lacrosse equipment that is the preference of one of our players. Last night, while we were out with the team, we got to talking about it again. The player in question staunchly defended his position while others agreed, disagreed and everyone else had a good laugh. Kevin was phoning me today to tell me that he got a Twitter DM from someone who was on the same team as him for one season of masters lacrosse. He was messaging to say that he definitely has at least a couple of what Kevin was looking for, but maybe as many as five or six. Eureka! We hit gold – all thanks to a generous weak tie. ????