Ok, I know, Valentine’s Day is specifically about romantic love but as we all spend our lives either looking for love or holding onto it, it’s worth exploring what drives that desire and how we can apply it to other important relationships in our treasured networks.
Firstly, there is the initial attraction. Secondly the bonds of connectedness and lastly the commitment to remain together.
We can all admit to forming quick impressions of people when we first meet them. Years ago, when I was working with a group of graduates from Rio Tinto, they were delighted to report back to me that the networking techniques worked for dating too. Whether you are dating or networking, our brains still works the same to form a judgement. We are drawn to smiles, open and relaxed body language and warm eye contact.
Since it’s Valentines, let’s explore the notion of love at first sight. Long been discussed and researched to see if it is possible. Many disagree, yet Helen Fisher, believes the principles of love at first sight could apply. Fisher, a biological anthropologist and perhaps the biggest name in the field of love studies, has been a strong supporter of the legitimacy of love at first sight. Romantic love was “an emotional obsession,” she told the Wall Street Journal in 2015, and “an adaptive mechanism for attraction and to start the mating process quickly.” If three things about a person—physical attraction, a desirable personality, and the belief that the other person liked you—were present, she argued, “love at first sight” was an entirely real possibility.
The basis of human relationships is social connection. We feel closer to people that we have bonds with. It's easy to find bonds and the longer you spend in deep relationships the more bonds you will create. Not surprisingly then, the longer you have known people (from a young age helps even more), the more connected you feel despite the level of contact. This is true for me for my Uni friends who I rarely see face to face but when we do catch up after meeting more than two decades ago, it’s like no time has passed at all. Similarly, last year I had dinner with a childhood friend that lives in LA and because of our history we were immediately bonded and had a fabulous evening.
The good news is that research shows that people who are more socially connected have a higher self-esteem, are more empathic to others, are more trusting & cooperative, therefore, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. Social connectedness therefore generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.
Commitment encompasses, the decision to remain with one another in the short term, and in the long term, the shared achievements and plans made with that person.
Any relationship you want to maintain takes commitment and if you want to foster healthy, two-way relationships, they will require regular communication. This last step, commitment, is where most relationships fall apart. Either by a deliberate or accidental lack of communication and contact.
Clients we work with at Relatus know this yet consciously still admit to not making the time or effort to invest in them. Those that have done our programs will know that networks are made up of a matrix of circles and here, I am referring to your closest three circles in particular. Not everyone will be or needs to be applied the same strategy yet having a plan and strategic approach to your relationships will be the one thing that sets you apart and means that your network will work with and for you in the long term.
Here is your chance to make your inner circle(s) feel valued this #valentinesday.
Just like predictability can dampen desires in a romantic relationship, keep the variety and surprise alive in all your relationships.
This is not about gift giving (though a small thoughtful gift and more so a heartfelt card is always well received), so, whether you will celebrate one person or many in your network– make sure you do so with integrity and kindness.
Remember to personalise for each person - simply reach out to your favourite people and let them know how much you value them in your life.
Having just received some bad news about one of my dogs today, I know I will be taking him out for a special treat this Valentine’s Day so he feels loved. I’m interested to hear what you will be doing this year?
Happy Netships as always,
“Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them”
― Brené Brown