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Paul Kiser - CEO of Enterprise Technologies, inc.

by Paul Kiser

Do you love me?….Do you like me?….Do you loath me? What is the quality of our relationship?

There are some people who claim that Social Media tools like Facebook and Twitter cheapen relationships. I don’t agree. Social Interactive Media almost always increase the quantity of our relationships, but does that mean the quality of relationships is reduced?

To me that is similar to saying that because a person belongs to a Rotary club it reduces the quality of his or her relationships because they are using up their allotment of friendship in one place or that children in a family of five are not as loved as the only child in a family of three. The logic makes no sense.

A blog that decries the impact of Social Media on our relationships, combined with another blog by Carola Valdez regarding love and relationships have me thinking about the quality of relationships and the impact of tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

(Read Carola’s Blog here – note that it’s in Spanish)

I see this issue as two intertwined subjects, which are relationships and communication. A relationship describes the connection between two people and communication maintains the connection. I divide the concept of relationship into three parts that all work together to determine the bond or quality of a relationship.

Relationships Part One: Core Reactionary Characteristics (CRC)
I believe that every person has relationship ‘DNA’ . It is the combination of our inherent personality, our experiences from past relationships, and a third factor that reacts to the stimulus (or ‘chemistry, if you will) between two people. I term this set of responsive behaviors the Core Reactionary Characteristics (or CRC). I use the analogy of DNA because genes are able to attach or connect with certain genes but not to other genes in the DNA strand, which is similar to our ability to ‘click’ or not with someone else.

Social Media makes us aware of how connected we are to each other

Relationships Part Two: Environmental Factors
Just because we feel comfortable connecting with someone doesn’t mean we will become close friends. It is a combination of the old nature/nurture influences that seem to guide relationships. We may have a great ‘chemistry’ with someone, but it is our environment that controls the depth of the relationship. I like the example given in the lyrics of Alanis Morissette’s song, ‘Ironic’.

“It’s meeting the man of my dreams, and then meeting his beautiful wife.”

It doesn’t have to be a love relationship that is thwarted by the situational factors, but love is the type of relationship we relate to when someone wants to write a song or make a movie. The point is that if the CRC is compatible AND given the correct time, place, and freedom to explore a relationship, a deep connection (friendship and/or love) can be formed.

Relationships Part Three:  Dynamics
Finally, I think it is important to accept that relationships are dynamic, which simply means that as individuals grow and change the relationship waxes and wanes. I have a friend who had an incredibly close relationship with his wife (she passed away a couple of years ago.) On their anniversary he would say, “We’ve decided to renew our marriage for another year.” This was not meant to be as funny as most people seemed to interpret it. He truly did value the relationship and didn’t take it for granted that the marriage would be continuous. I wonder how strong all marriages would be if we knew that either party could decide not to renew the contract each year.

My point is that regardless of how strong a relationship, the fact is that two people can grow and change at different rates over time. It is rare that a relationship can maintain a high level of intensity especially if the two people are in the process of change and/or growth.

It is the combination of all three factors (CRC, Environmental Factors, and Dynamics) that determine the quality of a relationship at any given moment.

Social Media and Relationships
Social Media tools like Facebook and Twitter increase the number of people we know (quantity of relationships) but the quality of those relationships are dependent on multiple factors that have nothing to do with the tools or the media itself. In the end, the quality of the relationships are not affected positively or negatively by the quantity of relationships we have, but by the type of connection that will result of making a connection.  If anything, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter make it possible to have better quality relationships because they; 1) increase the number of potential ‘best friends’, and 2) give us better communication tools to improve the quality of our connections.

More on the role of communication later….

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