The science of making friends and connections

The science of making friends and connections

Friendships aren’t mere connections; friendship goes far deeper, and study after study has shown that friends help immeasurably with our emotional, mental and physical well-being. But making friends is not easy for everyone. What’s the best way then to make friends and build solid connections that last a lifetime? 

This is where David Robson’s handy guide The Laws of Connection comes in. Backed by heavy research, it explores the science of overcoming social barriers and building lasting, meaningful friendships. 

The science of connection: why friendships matter

News flash: the World Health Organization (WHO) now recognises loneliness as a public health threat. The international body deemed social isolation to have comparable effects on human mortality as other major risks, such as obesity, physical inactivity and smoking. As per the WHO report, this includes the following:

  • Elevated risk of developing dementia by up to 50%.
  • Increased risks of stroke and developing cardiovascular diseases by up to 30%.
  • 25% higher risk of early death.

The value of strong social connections should also not be understated. One study shows that healthy social relationships bring both short- and long-term benefits to one’s health, beginning in early childhood and accumulating throughout a person’s life. At work, this translates to improved communication between employees, resulting in greater productivity and increased job satisfaction.

Breaking down barriers: how to build meaningful connections

Unfortunately, there are always barriers to building great friendships, given the diversity of human thought and experience. Here’s a three-step approach that we’ve derived from David’s guide:

1. Challenge the “Personality Myth” 

One major concern among introverts is that they may not make as many good friends as extroverts would. This is far from the truth. Introverts can find opportunities to act more openly – i.e., at events that cater to their interests – and develop their social skills, drawing on their natural sensitivity to be attentive listeners who allow them to build deep relationships.

2. Overcoming social anxiety

Being anxious during social situations is a major hurdle for introverts, but as with all social barriers, this is not impregnable. Here’s one thing you can try: talk to new people for just a week. A joint study by the University of Sussex and the University of Pennsylvania showed that this approach can drastically reduce social anxiety and help introverts start enjoying social situations. 

3. The power of appreciation

Express appreciation through gratitude and compliments whenever the opportunity arises to strengthen your relationships and build new ones. Genuine compliments, which specifically acknowledge the admired qualities and things that make the recipient unique, show that you value the person you’re talking to. Meanwhile, the simple act of thanking colleagues reduces stress at work

Building deeper Connections: vulnerability and support

Making friends is one thing, but building deep social relationships is another. David stressed that strong bonds require opening up to other people, which means disclosing your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. This act, a key component of the Fast Friends Procedure, demonstrates respectable courage and authenticity, which leads to tighter bonds than mere small talk.

Beyond bragging: sharing successes and asking for help

Another key point in David’s guide is that it is important to learn to share your achievements, big or small. It lets you show that you trust the people you are sharing your accomplishments with and that you’re not an insecure person. On the other hand, many see humblebragging – that is, directing attention to something you should be proud of in a self-deprecating way – as disingenuous.

In relation to this, asking for help whenever you get the chance fosters connection, even between the most distant acquaintances. It creates a sense of obligation and strengthens bonds, especially as people are actually happier to lend a hand than one might expect. 

The power of connection in business

The importance of deep social connections does not only apply at the individual level. It is also vital in business, and here’s how meaningful friendships benefit professionals and entrepreneurs:

  • Greater trust and rapport with clients and colleagues, opening the way for favours and further expansion of one’s social network.
  • Improved communications and transparency within the company, fostering collaboration and teamwork among the employees, leading to greater efficiency and productivity.
  • Expanded professional network that paves the way for potential business and career opportunities, which include benefits such as more stable supply chains and referrals. 

Conclusion

David practically laid out a sound roadmap to building strong connections, emphasising honesty, shared successes, and small collaborative acts. By understanding the science behind friendship and overcoming social barriers, we can cultivate meaningful connections that enrich our personal and professional lives.

About Sam P

EnterpriseZone Staff Writer

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