Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Happiness is... New Friends

For the past few years I've been very interested in friendships and social connection. According to all the 'positive psychology research,' social connection is the key to happiness. According to this video, 25% of Americans report that they have ZERO friends! The lack of friendships is literally making people sick. The guy in the video says what's needed is "a framework for people to connect."

A framework? That's exactly what I teach, coach, and write about. It's a "framework" for Agile software development, but there's a lot about teamwork, leadership, communication, collaboration, and emotional intelligence.. all things that could be used for a social connection "framework." If I add in stuff that I've learned from positive psychology, I could absolutely create a framework! Move over, Oprah, I'm about to get famous.

Only one problem. Meeting new people is totally out of my comfort zone. But since deciding I was going to be the new expert on how to make deep friendships, I've been trying to practice all the things I would teach. And guess what? It's been working!

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a woman on my bus ride home from the airport who was wearing really cute, comfortable-looking shoes. After 10 minutes or so of thinking I'd really like to have a pair of shoes like those, I did the obvious thing.. I surreptitiously took a picture of her feet, figuring I could show the picture around at shoe stores like a detective searching for a missing person.

But then I thought, "Wait a minute! I don't need to sneak around like a predator with a foot fetish. I can simply ask her what kind of shoes she's wearing." She kindly tells me, "They're Dansko shoes."

After searching Dansko shoe images and not finding any like hers, I intrusively move to her seat and tell her I REALLY like her shoes but can't find them when I search. She graciously offers to send me more information if I give her my number. I do. While we're still on the bus, she texts me the exact ad from Nordstrom Rack, where she bought the shoes.

We both get off the bus at the same stop and I find out she's a contractor in the Tech industry like me. She says maybe we could get together for a hike some time. This is crucial in making a friend out of a stranger..  The suggestion of getting together. I'm usually not brave enough to do this, but luckily, she was! And she hasn't even read the book I have yet to write! It's like she intuitively knew "the framework."

I got home, ordered 3 pair of Dansko shoes, and when they arrived, I texted my new friend, Deseree, to thank her for her help and ask if she wanted to go on that hike.

The next week we hiked along Boulder creek and got to know each other better. She even tried to set me up with one of her friends who likes to dance. Now I'm not really looking for a setup right now but it was thoughtful of her and made me feel good that she would even want to set me up.

Since then I've been smiling more at strangers and stepping out of my comfort zone so much that it's getting easier and easier to meet new people and make new friends. 

The book I wrote 10 years ago was about looking for romantic love. I've dreamed for a long time about finding love, but as I've written on this blog many times, love comes in a lot of different forms.

So.. that's going to be what my next book is about! Stay tuned for a bunch of embarrassing new stories, a workbook, and workshops as I author the new framework for creating loving friendships!


Ron Garcia said...

A friend told me I was an introvert with great communication skills. Which is what you seem to be Yvette. When I transition from being an Infantry Officer to the Computer Specialist later Computer Engineer after picking up a few Computer related degrees. I found out I had to learn to communicate with People smarter than me and experts in the IT world. I knew the methods I used to motivate my Infantrymen to do what I needed them to do most likely would not work on IT Experts.

I always had been a good listener and an observer of people (they just fascinate me), I had to overcome their biases of me being looked First as a Infantry Officer to an Infantry Officer with additional skills of Intelligence and Computers. I needed to project a softer side of my personality, so I smiled at everyone I met always saying good morning and asking how they were doing, and learning to engage in chit chat, about family, pets, and hobbies,
Over time the openness has become second nature, as I start conversations with anyone queued up in a line, talking about anything, and I have learned a lot of new things from strangers in Airports, grocery stores, road races, concerts pretty much venues where people gather.

I still have many of my introvert tendencies but I have learned to communicate and work with some very interesting people

Sounds like you are experiencing a similar situation

Ron g.

Anonymous said...

I am not 100% on board with the study that determined that "Having weak ties to others is as harmful as alcoholism and twice as harmful as obesity." I think that weak ties are an intangible that cannot be scientifically measured like obesity. However, I do agree that strong ties make for a better overall quality of life.

I loved the story about the lady on the bus...I was quite surprised to read that "Meeting new people is totally out of my comfort zone." For someone who thrives on in-person conversation and loves to have people come over her house for conversational meetups, well...that one surprised me.

I always took you as an extrovert. Perhaps, if meeting new people is totally out of your comfort zone, you might have stronger introvert tendencies. Perhaps you are an "Ambeevert?"

I am very curious to see how your next project/book unfolds. Please keep your faithful readers updated!

PS: Interesting font for your latest blog. Also, there was no photo where the photo is usually located. I even tried opening your blog in Chrome knowing that you are experimenting with a Chrome laptop. Same results. Oh well, this was a great read.

Yvette Francino said...

Thanks, Ron and 'Anonymous' for your comments! I just love getting comments on my blog!

Michael, you're right.. I'm still getting used to this Chromebook and it seems the default font it uses for this blog (and this comment) would not be my first choice. For one thing, it's grey, instead of black. But tech-savvy gal that I am, I'll have to figure out how to adjust that. (Ha! I still haven't even figured out accents!)