After years as a stay at home mom, Sarah is going back into the job market. So she is asking advice from her closest friends. Who all happen to be fellow stay at home moms. She’s getting soothing comments about how it won’t be that hard since, “Being a mom is the toughest job in the world,” and she shouldn’t worry about losing the baby fat because, “They should accept you for who you are.”
Are your friends giving you a distorted version of reality?
Where are her male friends or “childfree” female friends who will give her a reality check? Oh, that’s right, she doesn’t have any because she’s ensconced in her pod of identical friends.
We all gravitate to people who are similar to ourselves to some extent. The problem is when we surround ourselves ONLY with people that think like we do. It leads to a distorted version of reality, lack of creativity, and difficulty in relating to different people. (Perhaps if George W had been closer to people that thought differently, the whole WMD fiasco wouldn’t have happened — but that’s for a different blog).
Whether you’re a CEO of a public company, in transition looking for a different job, or a student trying to figure out the social hierarchy of a new school, you need to develop relationships with people who are different from you. This doesn’t mean drop your old friends. It just means expand your social circle.
Why you need some different friends
1. It’s hard to change when everyone around you thinks the same. With everything evolving at warp internet speed, you have got to be open and listen to different points of view if you want to move forward with your business, career, and social life.
2. Your bosses, clients, colleagues, and staff are different from you. The first time to really get to know someone who is from a different race, gender, sexual orientation, or age group should not be when you are trying to impress your company’s top client, meeting with the CEO, or interviewing with an HR director.
3. You will lead a more interesting life and be noticed more. In a recent post on How Not to Be Invisible, one of key ways to be more attractive is to get different perspectives and widen your social circle with people who aren’t just like you.
- Reach out to some acquaintances that are outside your normal social comfort zone
- Invite some much younger relatives (nieces, nephews, or second cousins) over for a visit
- Go visit some much older relatives or neighbors and ask them for advice
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