Mastering Your Acquaintance Network

03.07.2024 |

Episode #7 of the course Mastering your relationships by John Robin


Welcome back to the course!

In the last lesson, we explored how to master your acquaintances. You saw how to expand beyond your list of friends, and then how to pick the most significant acquaintances, and some tips to get to know them better.

We can go further with this, and I’ve saved that for this lesson.

Let’s dig in!


Creating New Friendships: Seeking Those Spontaneous Opportunities

Last lesson, we focused on how to integrate your higher-priority acquaintances into your social life. Already, this covers lots of ground, but there are still some other opportunities worth mentioning.

While many of your acquaintances may have popped up when doing your year-at-a-glance calendar, you might have also listed a few extended acquaintances as well.

An extended acquaintance is just someone you know of, but with whom you haven’t had much interaction.

Examples of extended acquaintances might be:

• The sister of a father-in-law who you hear of when he tells you about his family dinners

• A good friend’s best friend

• A group of friends your friend spends time with, who you often hear about

Extended acquaintances might seem too obscure to be worth pursuing, and indeed, for the most part they are! But just as we did with acquaintances, there might be some hidden gems in your extended acquaintance network, so let’s see how this all works.

For instance, let’s say you have a step-father-in-law with numerous brothers and sisters, who you’ve never met, but you hear about their fun gatherings. Once you get more intentional about nurturing your acquaintance network—and of course, practicing deliberate presence with family—you might realize these are all extended acquaintances, so you might be prompted sometime when he is telling you about a gathering to casually say, “I should join you guys sometime!” It might be the case that he’s unexpectedly thrilled that you want to come—he’s just never invited you because he gets the sense you’re busy with your life and not interested.

You never know: you might love these extended family gatherings, and potentially find a new friend there.

So many spontaneous opportunities surround us, where we can push outside of our comfort zone. We just have to be open and look for them.


Tip of the Day: The “Works for Introverts and Extroverts” Test

As we get further and further from those closer relationships like family and friends, there’s a real danger it might get too overwhelming. After all, in lesson 4, I had you learn the art of proportioning your year for the express purpose of managing an otherwise overwhelming social schedule. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin.

What’s the secret to keeping it all in check?

I recommend a little test that I call the “works for introverts and extroverts” test. You might be familiar with the story of Goldilocks and the three bears. The hard bed and the soft bed were no good. She fell asleep on the one that was “just right”. This principle is similar:

If you feel you’re spreading yourself too thin to the point that you’re stressed by all the social stimulation, it’s too much. This would not make an introvert happy.

On the other hand, if you’re not challenging yourself enough by embracing social opportunities you usually just avoid, it’s not enough. This would not make an extrovert happy.

True relationship mastery, on the grandest level of your full social network, requires a careful Zen-like balance. A good way to fulfill this introvert-extrovert balance is to learn how to alternate between pursuing planned time and spontaneous time.

On one hand, it is good to be deliberate and clear on who you want to spend time with every month, who just a couple times a year, who it’s okay to see every few years. On the other hand, you also want to be able to be spontaneous and jump on new situations.

When you think of your weekend, it’s helpful to imagine you have a coin you could flip. One side of the coin is: stick to your plan. The other side is: be spontaneous.

Is this weekend a planned weekend or a spontaneous one? You don’t need to flip a coin. Just try to sense in your gut what you want to do. Perhaps if you’ve had several weekends of planned outings—the usual—it’s time to be more spontaneous and take those neighbors down the street up on their offer for a domino tournament.

And it’s okay to just spend a night at home with your partner, or even just with yourself, if you need to rejuvenate.

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, this planned vs spontaneous approach can help you learn how to be a bit of both. Extrovert yourself a bit if you’re an introvert by occasionally challenging yourself to expand your acquaintance network. Introvert yourself a bit by creating space for yourself, alongside the many social possibilities that open up once you start seeing just how big your extended acquaintance network is.

Stay tuned for the next phase of our course. We’ll now go beyond acquaintances, as in the next 2 lessons we explore how to get to know new people.


Recommended book

Taking the Work Out of Networking: An Introvert’s Guide to Making Connections that Count by Karen Wickre


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