How many “Weak-Tie” friends do you have? IT MATTERS.

Walking around my neighborhood, early in the pandemic lockdown, I noticed people wanted to talk.  Even though staying a distance away, they were more friendly, stopping to chat, than pre-Covid19.  It seems there is an important reason for the casual chat.  While close friends are also important, research is showing that more casual or “weak-tie” friends offer some different benefits.

Weak Tie friends are not close friends but people you see regularly – from a shopkeeper to a casual neighbor, members of a group you belong to.  You may just wave, say “Hi” maybe chat a bit.

Weak Tie, Strong Tie  Friends

Having a good sized group of casual friends can increase your happiness, improve knowledge and your feelings of belonging.

Mark Granovetter’s* research found that quantity matters.

The most important thing he learned was that these weak-tie friends are very important when it comes to getting new information.

“Granovetter found that most people got their jobs through a friend-but 84% got their job through a weak tie friend, someone they saw only from time to time, not a close friend. As Granovetter saw that close friends tend to have the same information, but weak ties connect with different circles and can pass that information, like those of job opportunities, on to us. They also provide us with stimulation, new stories about what is happening or news about events. When it comes to weak ties, the more the merrier.”

People with more weak ties may be happier.

 When researchers asked people to keep a record of their interactions and their mood  they felt better on days when interacting more with weak-tie friends.

A study in Scotland and Italy showed that being a member of a group, such as a team or community group, gave people a feeling of more security and a sense of meaning.

Covid 19 had caused many of us to loosen those weak ties. Gyms, restaurants or bars are closed or limited.  Working at home limits changes connections. Some companies have noticed that even chance meetings with others you don’t work closely with can feed creativity and enhance the transfer of information.

I’ll be more focused on keeping touch with my weak tie friends, through social media, giving people a call, chatting with neighbors or remembering to wave when I walk. They may even have some tips on coping with the pandemic.

PA

Howdy 

*Mark Granovetter, a sociology professor, author of The Strength of Weak Ties

Originally posted on Max Your Mind