Selectively Social

Written by Steve Gwisdalla

May 22, 2019

During a recent coaching session with a department manager of a multi-national
manufacturing company, my client casually threw a phrase when describing themselves
and how they interact with people. The phrase was ‘selectively social.’ We finished the session and on my drive home, that phrase was rolling over and over in my mind. 2 words that when are really being honest with ourselves could describe nearly everyone I know, including myself. This idea has grown in popularity over the past few years but I want to exercise a bit of caution about it always being a positive thing.

How many times have we turned down social invitations because we just didn’t really feel like going? We have different volumes of excuse books depending on the situation too. We can use our kids, spouses or significant others, work, poor health (real or imagined) and the list goes on and on. Do we ever tell the truth and say, “Thanks for thinking of me, but you know what? I really feel like just staying home tonight.” Fear of insulting the inviter may be the reason. Never getting invited again may be another fear. My cop father (since retired after 27 years of service) always used to tell me when I was a kid, “when in doubt, try the truth.” All of this got me thinking…Does the truth apply when being ‘selectively social?

We live in a world where more and more it truly is a who you know world. Our networks and connections are more important than ever. I’m often amazed when doing career coaching that people who are looking for a job seem to be relying on applying to ads to find their next opportunity. According to Glassdoor, the average job board posting lands the employer 250 resumes. Of these, only 4 to 6 will be called and 1 offer extended. Utilizing personal networks to find a job on the other hand results in a much higher
percentage of successful job searches and you aren’t going up against such a large
volume of competition.

It begs the question, if we all have some form of selectively social mindset, how do we overcome this to further ourselves? I would like to offer 3 ideas to help us overcome our selectively social tendencies.

1. Be Honest. Dad was right! Try the truth. Before owning it up to not wanting to go out when our friends call, be honest with yourself long before that call comes in.
Are there any benefits from going out? Meeting new people is always a good
thing. Be honest about the facts of the situation, not just the emotion of, “I’m
tired” or “I have an early morning tomorrow.”

2. Be Willing. When was the last time you truly stretched yourself when dealing
with people? That is to say, when did you last say yes instead of saying no? If it
has been awhile, give it a try. You are in a different place then you were before.
Be willing to say yes!

3. Be Positive! Much more than the glass is half full. Be willing to share your glass
with others. You have a great deal to offer people. They thought enough of you to
include you in their network. Prove them right!

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