- comforting /KUHM-fer-ting/
- infrequently /in-FREE-kwuhnt-li/
- serendipitous /ser-uhn-DIP-i-tuhs/
- resume /ri-ZOOM/
- acquaintance /uh-KWEYN-tns/
[adjective] – making you feel less sad or worried
My best friend’s words of encourage are always comforting for me.
[adverb] – not often
William does play cricket, but infrequently.
[adjective] – happening or found by chance
The movie made us believe that the plot is serendipitous.
[verb] – start something again after a pause
Let’s resume from where we left off in yesterday’s meeting.
[noun] – a person that you have met but do not know well
You can meet new acquaintances in the upcoming party.
A person’s social world is divided into two: the inner and outer circles. People whom we usually talk to and feel attached to belong to the inner circle, whereas those we interact with infrequently belong to the outer circle. Granovetter categorized these as “strong ties” and “weak ties,” respectively. He further elaborates that weak ties help us more when it comes to learning new information and ideas.
Some companies, like Pixar, intentionally design their offices/buildings to initiate serendipitous meetings among employees somewhere specific (in Pixar’s case, in a large, central hall). Steve Jobs, who overlooked the company’s building design, wanted colleagues to bump into each other and spark casual conversations from there. Gillian Sandstrom, researcher at the University of Essex, also found that weak ties generate a happier atmosphere and a greater sense of belonging.
“Sometimes it’s harder to talk to people we know well because those conversations come with an emotional burden,” Sandstrom says. Because of the pandemic, our movements are limited: for example, social gatherings may not resume normally for a while because of bans. This means we run out of things to share to our friends when we do get the chance to talk to them. However, this doesn’t mean we have to stop there.
As stated in Granovetter’s work, we get more information from weak ties. Try asking how your friends and acquaintances are during the pandemic and start from there. After all, we’re all curious how they’re coping right now, and we can get ideas to figure out how we should behave. Sandstrom points out that right now, social media is the best substitute for casual conversations. Asking how others are through casual conversations means you care about them without consuming too much of your time, attention, or energy, and this is the secret to a casual yet long-lasting friendship.
- What are the two divisions of a person’s social world?
- Based on the article, what did some companies design their offices and buildings?
- Who published “The Strength of Weak Ties”?
- How does the pandemic affect our movements?
- According to Sandstrom, what is the best substitute for casual conversations?
- What is your opinion about Granovetter’s work about strong and weak ties?
- What are the differences between friends and acquaintances?
- Do you usually initiate the conversation first or wait for others to start? Please tell me more about your answer.
- What do you do to keep the conversation going when you run out of topics to talk to with your friends?
- How do you keep a “weak-tie” friendship healthy?