Your work friends who you get on great with are about to meet your old uni/school friends who you also get on great with. You’re feeling anxious. Will they like each other? Will they be able to chat with each other without you having to facilitate every little conversation? Will my old friends think my work friends are boring and will my work friends think my old friends are too crazy and then think that I’m not as professional as I really am? Ahhhhhh! Perhaps this friend integration idea wasn’t such a good idea?
Before I write every blog post I always check with those around me about the usefulness and value of the month’s theme. At first I thought the idea of exploring the anxiety and the obstacles people have when introducing different people from different friendship groups to each other was too trivial. But, friend after friend told me, “no, I hate doing this” or “I wish I was one of those people that could do that”.
I kept hearing how people stressed over introducing different friends to each other, or their partner to their friends, or their parents to their friends or partner. Basically, merging your different social worlds, which potentially could lead to people seeing all the different fragments of you and see who you really are, brought people out, perhaps not in a cold sweat but definitely out of their comfort zone.
And how about you? Are you an integrator? Do you mind and actually enjoy mixing your different friendship groups, your colleagues and even your partner without the bat of an eyelid? Or does it make your stomach churn?
I have some friends who are fantastic “integrators” they have managed to blend friendships over decades and continents. I have watched these friends from afar and marvelled at how such a seemingly trivial thing can have such lovely rewards and also create a more rich and rewarding friendship circle for so many and ultimately, a more colorful and open life for myself and those that I love.
So if “we” are the only obstacle between these people; how useful is our own fear of the consequences that they might not get on? And if they don’t become best friends then does that really have a significant impact as they weren’t even friends before? What do you have to lose when introducing one person, who you think is awesome to another person who you also think is awesome?
Now, if we cast aside the obstacles that are preventing you from bringing people together, your role turns from being an obstacle to becoming a bridge.
Although this isn’t just any bridge. You would be a double bridge (the Tower Bridge in London kind of bridge). By facilitating these connections between your friends, not only are you building a bridge and uniting people; you are also connecting the different parts of you. Being brave and showing people who you really are and all the fabulous parts that you are made of. And knowing that your friends love you and that some of your friends like, laugh and have a great time together....because of you. I can promise you is a very special type of feeling.
I know this because this friend bridge building thing has been one of my personal projects I’ve been working on. Due to my limited time back in the UK over the summer I practically had no choice but to (I’m fully aware of how unnecessarily dramatic this sounds) introduce friends who’d never met and friends from different groups who hadn’t met for years. And you know what, it was brilliant. Furthermore, I was able to benefit from friends who aren’t afraid of mixing friendship groups and I have made new friends and had some brilliant times with these new friends of friends.
And I noticed that the benefits are that:
Practically it makes sense. You can see more friends, more often. PERFECT!
You get to understand your friends better, as you can see them in different situations and how they are with different people.
You have more interesting conversations and touch on new topics that you might never have had because you always end up talking about the same old thing.
Your friends get to understand you better as they see more of the people that matter to you.
You can widen your friendship circle, as they might integrate you with their friends in return.
And finally, simply you’ll feel more relaxed and confident before and during these integrating situations.
The next challenge. Integrate. You have nothing to lose. Not everyone one will get on with everyone. You might not start any life long friendships, but you will create more meaningful connections with those that you love. You will learn something new and you will soon see that friends of friends are a great source of already vetted and checked new friendships.
So, what are you waiting for? Before the hottest summer ever is over, organise a bbq with people from your different walks of life, relax and enjoy!
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