This is the last in our series on Groupthink. Don’t be sad – you can always revisit the previous two pieces. In Part 1 we talked about being a personal finance superhuman, and in Part 2 we covered why “follow your passion” is terrible advice for personal and professional development. Last but certainly not least, we are going to discuss relationships: specifically, how do we maximize our relationships with others to become the best version of ourselves?
America has a loneliness epidemic. According to a recent study, only around half of Americans (53%) say they have meaningful, daily face-to-face social interactions with others. Experts are deeming loneliness as a rising public health challenge, that stems from a variety of reasons. Three reasons are obvious: the excessive use of social media that leads to feelings of isolation, people having fewer close friends than they used to while simultaneously living further from their family, and settling into a fixed mindset that does not allow for personal or professional growth.
THE PREVAILING GROUPTHINK
As humans age into adulthood, we naturally tend to have more superficial relationships than deep meaningful ones. As children we throw around the words “best friend” and we tend to share and be open about our lives more easily with others. We also participate in things as children that deepen relationships quickly, such as school activities, sports, and other project-based activities. As adults we are more guarded, we share less, and it takes much longer for us to be vulnerable with peers and co-workers. Statistics also show that if you have at least one significant relationship at work – one really good friend – you will likely stay in your job longer due to higher personal satisfaction.
Humans also tend to think that relationships are happenstance, and for the most part fail to take a pragmatic approach to meeting new people. I have also personally found it difficult to form close relationships in adulthood when you factor in your nuclear family. When the wives of two families get along, the husbands get along, and the kids get along, it’s like hitting the friendship lottery!
Nonetheless, forming deep relationships is important to living a complete and happy life. It deserves the time and energy necessary to create and implement a strategic plan.
YOUR BEST PERSONAL SELF
Those who reach the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy and have stopped living in the middle maintain a growth mindset towards interpersonal relationships and developing their emotional quotient (EQ). In fact, as technology begins integrating every part of our lives, EQ is even more important than one’s intelligence (IQ) when it comes to attaining success in life and in business. Here are three pragmatic actions you can take to grow your EQ, utilize relationships to live your best life, and minimize the opportunities for loneliness to creep in.
Audit Your Relationships
Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” so we need to be very cognizant of the company we (and our families) keep. It is likely that we need to increase the quality of those around us to really maintain and develop a growth mindset. Ask yourself honestly whether the friends and family you are spending time with are pushing you to be a better person or at a minimum supporting you in your personal growth. Time with toxic and lazy people should be minimized significantly, and sometimes that means we spend less time with previously close family members. It may be time to upgrade your network of friends and acquaintances.
Move Relationships to the Right
We hear it all the time, the advice to “be a good listener”. We should probably begin, though, with being better question-askers. Try to focus on the other person 80% of the time, only interjecting personal stories and desires 20% of the time. Be empathetic. Think of your interactions and relationships on a continuum (pictured below). Through your daily interactions and planned activities, try to push people from left to right across the continuum.
Not everyone will become a life-long friend, but you will impact more lives and feel a greater sense of self-satisfaction if you do this.
Increase the Probability of Having Deep Relationships
How many social gatherings are you hosting this year, of any size? Are you attending any conferences, trainings, seminars, church activities, etc. regularly? Making a relationship growth plan will increase the opportunity to meet growth-minded people who share uncommon commonalities with you. People spend far more time planning their vacations than they do a relationship building strategy. Interested in more ideas on how to increase the probability of meeting the “right people”? Check out my past piece entitled, “I Spent $30k and I should have spent more!”.
**Action: Take 10 minutes today and write down three things you could do over the next two weeks that would create and/or deepen (growth mindset supporting) relationships.**