In this podcast (episode #343) and blog, I speak to behavioral scientist and NYT bestselling author Jon Levy about his new book, building meaningful connections, developing community, achieving what is important to us, the nature of human influence, and more!
In his incredible book You’re Invited: The Art and Science of Cultivating Influence, Jon shows how a fundamental element that defines our lives is the people we surround ourselves with and the conversations that we have with them. One of the greatest predictors of human longevity is our social ties!
Indeed, from what we see in behavioral science, literally everything we care about seems to spread from person to person, whether we are talking about divorce rates, smoking, voting habits, or happiness. This data suggests that if we want to change our habits, we should surround ourselves with people we admire. We can positively impact each other’s lives!
And, as Jon points out, we can develop a sense of belonging or trust with almost anybody—the key is to really understand how we function as people. One of the best ways to find common ground with someone is through a shared activity or effort (such as cooking a meal together), even if this person comes from a different part of the globe or has different belief system. This is a way to recognize the humanity of the other person, rather than just seeing them as an “other” or “enemy”. Common ground is the foundation of all meaningful relationships, especially a friendship. Common ground is the first step towards creating a sense of belonging in a relationship—of being seen without judgement.
Indeed, our results are amplified when our relationships share a sense of community. We shouldn’t try to keep our friends, family and loved ones separate or “to ourselves”. We enhance, rather than take away from, our sense of belonging when we expand our community and introduce the people we know to each other. The stronger our network of connections is, the better we can share what is important to us and achieve our objectives and goals in life. The things that matter to us are more likely to come true when we establish them in meaningful relationship groups.
This is true in the business world as well. Work success is not just a numbers game. It is not just about networking, which often makes business relationships feel more transactional than meaningful—it’s not just about establishing relationships that only seek to use people and make us feel “dirty”. When we make friends and genuine connections in the workspace, we tend to get really excited about what we are doing and find more meaning in our chosen career.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, despite many amazing advances in technology, a lot of us are more disconnected and isolated than ever, and this is impacting our health and overall quality of life. This is especially true as many of us went into lockdown during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, when people feel lonely, they tend to feel like they are more deserving of loneliness. They start thinking that people don’t like them, which affects their identity, isolating them further and impacting their wellbeing.
At the end of the day, we all need to recognize that social skills are like any muscle: they are anti-fragile. This means that they get stronger when we apply pressure, and we do this by communicating and building relationships with other people. If we don’t use these skills, they will atrophy, just like if we don’t exercise a muscle it will weaken.
For more on meaningful relationships and community, listen to my podcast with Jon (episode #343) and check out his website and book. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
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2:40 Why Jon wrote his book You’re Invited
3:45 The importance of community & meaningful relationships
4:50 Why Jon is famous for his dinner parties
6:00 Are emotions & behaviors “contagious”?
7:45 Dating & relationships: do opposites really attract?
10:20, 14:00, 27:00 How do we create common ground?
15:30 How to treat someone as a person, not just an enemy
17:30 The power of expanding your community
24:00 Networking: why is it so awful?
26:00 What makes people friends?
29:50 The connection between trust & vulnerability
35:30 How do you know who is going to impact you?
40:00 Communication, distance & COVID-19
43:00 Social skills are anti-fragile
46:30 What is influence & how does it help us connect with others?
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