We Don't Need to Be Best Friends - 30DB #22

Today’s topic might be a bit controversial… I want to talk about asking for favours, especially from people you might not be close to any more.

I always found it strange that some people think they need to keep up a relationship with someone just for some future need. You know you don’t have much to talk about any more, or much in common at this stage in your life, yet both sides put on fake smiles and suffer through the obligatory small talk.

Even worse when people pretend they are getting back in touch for no reason at all. More pointless chit-chat before eventually they get to the point. Of course not everyone re-connects with you because they want or need something there are rare occasions when this is not the case.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually have nothing against the favour asking. In fact I often wish people would just get straight to it rather than beat around the bush. Unless the other person ended up being your sworn enemy before you parted why would you mind doing something for them?

This is something that always puzzled me. If an old acquaintance realizes I’m now in a business they have a question about why would I not give them a few minutes of my time? If someone I knew as a child needed a place to stay for a few days and I had the room, why wouldn’t I consider helping them out? Do they need to remember to send me a birthday card every year to earn that right? I don’t think so…

Why should we feel awkward reaching out to old connections? You can’t have hundreds of close friends, people will come into our lives and leave our circle for various reasons. As long as there was no bad will in the case of the later, do we need to pretend we’re still best buddies if our lives no longer have much in common?

Let’s take the concept of the monkeysphere (Dunbar’s number) – 150 (average) meaningful social connections per person vs. 350+ average friends on Facebook. Yeah, I know, they’re not all really your actual “friends”. But that’s sort of the point. Often you wouldn’t remember the person’s birthday (or many other details in fact) if it wasn’t for Facebook (Skype, whatever other social tool floats your boat) reminding you. And then the meaningless one liners follow, +1 point to when you need a favour from that person…

OK, I am a bit anti-social, and likely my monkeysphere is like 15 (25 on a good day maybe…). I usually don’t take part in obligatory niceness, but that also means I don’t expect that fake stuff in return. I’m happy to be nice and helpful when I can without any special reason. I might be a bit harsh sometimes when I call it like I see it, but at the same time if you need a favour, there’s no need for flattery and tip toeing around the topic.