When we talk about relationships, we sometimes tend to leave out friendships. But friends are such an important aspect of our lives. Shasta Nelson is back on the show to talk about how to deepen friendships, get to the heart of why friendships are important, and some ways to build meaningful connections.
Shasta Nelson is a keynote speaker, author, and leading expert on friendship and healthy relationships at work. She is constantly teaching all of us how to create healthier and more fulfilling relationships in our lives.
We talk about
- Why friendship is important in women’s lives (5:00)
- There are three requirements for a healthy relationship: positive emotions, consistency, and vulnerability (13:07)
- How to be vulnerable within your friendships (14:16)
- 49% of you feel even more distant from friends and family now than a year ago, due to the pandemic. Shasta shares how you can begin to foster and build connection with others (25:19)
- How to repair a friendship that has drifted apart (37:29)
Find a complete list of our sponsors and their offerings visit andreaowen.com/sponsors. Thank you for your support!
Shasta Nelson is a keynote speaker, author, and leading expert on friendship and healthy relationships at work.
Whether she’s speaking at conferences or on TEDx stages, giving media interviews to outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, appearing as a guest on The Harvard Business Review podcast or The Steve Harvey Show, or consulting with visionary leaders, technology pioneers, or HR directors, she is constantly teaching all of us how to create healthier and more fulfilling relationships in our lives.
Filled with scientific data, real-world research, and fascinating case studies, she brings science to life in such a practical way that we all not only want to get along better, but also that we know how-to. Few of us have ever been trained in the one skill that is most necessary in our world today: relationship building. We are collectively lonely and the way we’re currently doing our lives isn’t leading to greater connection. Our workplaces have the unique opportunity to better connect our people not only for their individual happiness and wellbeing, but because our ability to collaborate is directly correlated to our bottom line and organizational success.
Shasta’s research and wisdom can be found in her three books: The Business of Friendship: Making the Most of the Relationships Where We Spend Most of Our Time (HarperCollins Leadership, 2020) which teaches us how to improve our work satisfaction through better relationship, Friendships Don’t Just Happen! which teaches us how to make new friends as adults, and Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness which teaches us how to make our closer relationships more meaningful and healthy.
Shasta was selected by Facebook to be their media spokesperson and friendship expert for Friends Day 2018.
Her Three Relationship Requirements have been featured in her popular TEDx talk and are widely praised for helping break down relationships in ways everyone understands.
Relationships are a little bit like exercise, like they're good for you and just as you wouldn't go out and like run a marathon without kind of training, like recognize that our social health is similar and that the goal isn't you don't need to just go out and like be busy, busy, busy, and the goal is to just kind of start slow and start small and do what you feel like you can do and be gentle with yourself and recover and know it's still worth doing.
You're listening to Make Some Noise Podcast episode number 452 with guest Shasta Nelson.
Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast, your guide for strategies, tools and insight to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Owen, global speaker, entrepreneur life coach since 2007, an author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or a lesson that will help you maximize unshakable confidence, master resilience and make some noise in your life. Are you ready? Let's go.
Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode of the podcast and we are in full swing in our relationships theme. I am super excited. I have a couple of guests for this theme talking about friendships, and I couldn't talk about friendships without having the friendship expert on and that's my friend Shasta Nelson. She's been on a handful of times before, and I don't know… When we talk about relationships we tend to leave out friendships and it's such an incredibly important aspect of our lives. The people that we surround ourselves with whom we consider friends, and I can't wait for you to hear this conversation with Shasta.
Before that, if you are interested in my Daring Way retreat coming up in September in Asheville, North Carolina, there's a handful of spots left and if you have some questions still after you look at the info page, AndreaOwen.com/retreat and you want to hop on the phone with me, I have cleared my schedule for some 20ish minute phone calls with y'all. So head on over to that info page, AndreaOwen.com/retreat and if you scroll down to the bottom in the FAQs, you will see a little blurb about it.
And I'm sorry if you can hear my puppy in the background. I am recording my very first intro with her in the room and I thought yeah, it might be a good idea to have her just get a toy and sit quietly and while I do this, and there's no such thing. I don't know what I was thinking but she is at least not chewing things she's not supposed to. But if you hear ripping in the background, it's not me. You know, it’s not farts or anything like that, it's my dog. It's my puppy.
All right, back to the retreat. These links are all in the show notes as well if you want to read more about the retreat, also the price is going up fairly soon within the next handful of weeks so if you want to make that decision, I encourage you to do it fairly soon.
Alright, let's get on with the show. Shasta is back, and for those of you that don't know her, let me tell you a little bit about her. Shasta Nelson is a keynote speaker, author and leading expert on friendship and healthy relationships at work. Whether she's speaking at conferences or on TEDx stages, giving media interviews to outlets such as the New York Times or The Washington Post, appearing as a guest on the Harvard Business Review podcast or the Steve Harvey Show, or consulting with visionary leaders, technology pioneers or HR directors, she is constantly teaching all of us how to create healthier and more fulfilling relationships in our lives. Justice, research and wisdom can be found in her three books, The Business of Friendships: Making the Most of Relationships Where We Spend Most of Our Time, Friendships Just Don't Happen, which teaches us how to make new friends as adults, and Frientimicy: How To Deepen Friendships For Lifelong Health and Happiness, which teaches us how to make our closer relationships more meaningful. And so without further ado, here is Shasta.
Shasta Welcome back.
Oh, this is so fun. I'm excited.
I think this is your third time on and I'm so grateful and honored that you are back and glad that you're excited to be on because I just I feel like this is a topic that we can't hear enough of it just, it’s an underserved.
Yeah, for sure that it is and we're at a time where it's like so important to just hear it again and reassess. Our lives have changed a lot in the last few years.
For sure. And this sort of theme in the podcast, we're talking about relationships and I couldn't talk about relationships without also talking about friendships. And you're… Okay. I'm so excited to ask you all these questions, but I want to start with why is friendship important in women's lives? Is it just about like having fun and have someone to vent your feelings with and what's beyond that?
Yeah, those are certainly pieces of it, but all of us as humans, so it's not even just a women's thing, it's a human need, that all of us have to feel seen, and to feel supported and to feel safe. And we are wired to know that that safety comes in group and tribe in connection with others and we it's like, we intrinsically know that and the study is now are so fascinating when it comes to our health and our happiness like this matters more to our health then whether we smoke or not, it matters more to our health and what we eat, it matters more to our health than whether we're exercising. And what's crazy is when you just keep looking at these big, big, big studies coming out, I mean, showing that if you feel lonely, on an ongoing basis, it's more damaging to your health than if you smoke 15 cigarettes a day, or if you're obese, or if you're a lifelong alcoholic. And so we have held up a lot of these other health factors, and they are significant health factors, so not to minimize any of those. But our body when it does not feel supported. It is like in stress mode. And so it's so crucial that one of the most important things we can do is live life, feeling supported. And that's what brings our stress levels down, it helps our body repair itself helps our body, you know, be able to make good decisions.
And like one picture, I'll just give as I think it's so fascinating. There's one study that showed they put women into MRI machines, and they intermittently shocked the woman in that machine to like, basically, I know to basically try to create what it looks like in our brain. They were taking brain image scans during that time to show what does our brain look like when we're under mild stress. Like we're not being hurt, but we just don't quite know when the next little shock is going to come. And just kind of daily what is that? Like, what does that stress look like? And no surprise that there's three big red splotches, the cortisol, the stress, chemical activating and lighting up the brain while they're in those MRI machines. And then they do the exact same study except this time you get to hold the hand of somebody outside the MRI machine, somebody who you feel supports you. And just by holding that hand, it only protects your body from taking in two thirds of the of the stress. Like they can see in the brain image scan, now only about a third of the of the of the red is activating in the brain. And so I love that picture because it reminds us like having friends doesn't stop you from being intermittently shocked and environmentally, like it doesn't stop the stress in life but it buffers your body, it actually literally protects your body from the wear and tear of the stress. And so if you don't have that your body is under wear and tear constantly and that's what's killing you. And so you literally die younger, if you don't have friends.
Oh my gosh, that’s…
I know. Well it’s…
It doesn't surprise me so years ago, this is more than a decade ago, I it was around the time that I very first started coaching. So this was even before I started Your Kick Ass Life in 2010. I was oh, it was it was when I was still graduating from college and I was I was pregnant with my daughter. So this is around ’08, 09’ and I was you know, a lot of research papers and one of them was so fascinating to me. It was about it was a study that was done on women who were in treatment for breast cancer, a cohort of the women had good friends that they were, you know, supported by I should say and have you had really good friends. And then the other group didn't. And the women who had the more supportive friends actually did better through their treatment from cancer. And the whole point of this study was to, you know, to test if friendships really mattered to our physical health. And that was the first time I had ever heard that before. And I'm so surprised but not surprised.
Yes, yes, yes. And the studies have just kept repeating, like I started studying friendship in 2008 and there wasn't that much… Like back then we were obsessed with parent child relationships and romantic relationships. Like you could go buy a gazillion books on either subject but we weren't really like I was I was pitching a book to a publisher, you know, on friendship and they were like, why would anyone read a book on friendship? Like it was just so weird. And it's so crazy, because this is actually the relationship in our life, that we have more of. Like, we're gonna have more friends and we have spouses and kids. And it's going to be the relationship like interesting for women, it's actually being married and having kids historically has been bad for our health. Like historically, women who are married and have kids end up being more on depressants, earn less, you know, I mean, it has not always looked good for women to go down to pursue those two relationships. And the friendships are the relationship that is the most protective and the most meaningful for women's health. Like those studies just keep repeating themselves. So yeah, I love that. What did you feel at the time when you read that like, oh, good, I've got great friends or did it feel scary or did it like… Do you remember how it felt?
The latter because it was a time in my life, we were still living in San Diego and my friends, we were so spread out at that time and all around the age of getting married and having babies, which is hard. You know, your friendships are dead last during that time. And so yeah, it was kind of a little bit of a hard pill to swallow. And I have not seen the research on this and I mean, for the sake of transparency, I've only heard about it on social media, but I've heard that the happiest group of women are single women who have no children. And I was like, I believe that.
Yeah, yeah. And hopefully we're changing that right? Parents and the way we marry is changing. But yeah, for sure. That has been the case, because you come in… I mean, of course, it comes with those relationships come with a lot more mortgages and the presumes a certain life, stage of life and that kind of thing, too. But, but yeah, it takes a literal years off of our lives, to birth babies and to take care of us. And yeah, for sure, for sure.
And the loneliest people, the profile of the loneliest, some of the loneliest people right now are those women who are caretaking, who have parents are trying to take care of, kids they're trying to take care of, spouses they're trying to take care of who have jobs, whether they're serving and giving and, you know, showing up for everybody. These are the loneliest people right now. And it's so interesting, because when we often think of lonely, we think of not having friends or not interacting with people, or we think of like, some elderly person who's shut into their house and nobody's visiting them. But the loneliness today is not from lack of interaction, it's actually from lack of intimacy. And the lack of interaction, like a lot of people say to me, I can't be lonely, I'm exhausted of people. I just need to be and I just need quiet as I'm around people all day long. And yes, I say yes, you probably do need more quiet time. And you're still lonely, because you're not having a life that's feeling witnessed and supported. Like we can be around people all day and still be incredibly, incredibly lonely, which is just heartbreaking. I'm sure you see it a lot in your practice.
Yeah, yes. And to varying degrees. And that actually is a great segue to what I wanted to ask you is, so you talk about, quote, unquote, meaningful connection with other women. So what do you mean by that specifically?
Yeah, so what we can look at, when we look at any relationship, there's three things that we look to to kind of assess the health of that relationship. And so those three things are, and that's the more we practice these three things that deeper, the more meaningful, the closer we will feel to people, and any relationship in our life that isn't feeling meaningful, or closest, because at least one of these three things is lacking. And so those three things are positive emotion, so obviously, at the end of the day, we want it to feel good and be enjoyable, we want to feel accepted, we want to have hope, we want to feel adored, and admired and cheered for and we want to have empathy and validation. It's all those pleasant emotions. Science shows us when you got five pleasant emotions for every negative emotion to keep that relationship feeling good.
The second requirement of all healthy relationships is consistency. Because we can have a great time and go and have a great fun time together but if we don't repeat it, then we're not going to build a friendship. So that consistency of the repetition, that regularity is what builds history, it's the hours we log, it's the time we spend, it's the memories we make. And science is showing us that we will feel closer to the people that we log the most hours with. And one study came out and said that when we look at our best friends, that people we would name as our best friends, we've spent over 200 hours with them. And so that's why, this is the this is the one consistency is the one that made friendships feel easy when we were kids is that consistency was easy when we were kids, like we just had to go to school with the same people every day.
So then the third requirement is vulnerability. And so vulnerability is where we feel seen, where we're sharing, where we're revealing, where we are feeling comfortable to share our opinions, being able to tell stories, being able to brainstorm together, process life together. And so the vulnerability is what leaves us both feeling seen and keeping that relationship meaningful.
But you can see how all three of these work together because you don't want to be vulnerable if you're then going to be judged. You only want to be vulnerable if the result is that positive emotion again, where we feel empathy and validation and love and then that makes us want to repeat it and we want to be with that person again, which makes increases that consistency and then hopefully over time, we're spending time together we're getting to know each other better and you can see how these three things just kind of cycle and as we keep practicing them and showing up with those three things that is what that is what creates a bond. Like you will bond with people you don't even want to bond with if these three things are present. And it doesn't matter how much you have. We've all met women, I'm sure you could name… I think about how many women I've met that I would love to be friends with. But because we didn't practice consistency, you know, are one of these three things that doesn't matter how much we adored each other, love each other, pinky promise to be friends, a friendship didn't happen simply because we didn't do these three things. So how does that land?
All of those things. And I actually, I feel that way about you. :ike, I would love to be…
Yes, yes, I was thinking that.
We were just not consistent. We travel in the same circles, but not in the same circles. It's sort of the side effect of being internet friends. But no, I love all of those things. And it actually made me think of something that I hear from my clients a decent amount. So when I'm working with someone, sort of part of the intake process is I want to hear about their friendships and like, who are the key players in your life, who is your support system, and you know, what is the trust look like etc. What I hear a decent amount, I would say, with at least 50%, maybe more of my clients as they kind of give me a list of like two to five women in their life and a couple of them might be childhood friends, that they either still talk to you regularly, it's or it's more sporadic. And, and it's often they have a friend who might be their neighbor, for instance, and they have started going on walks together in the mornings. And they'll say something like, I feel like I have sort of extended the olive branch and been vulnerable with her and I talked to her about struggles I have in my parenting or with my marriage or at work, and she doesn't reciprocate and I feel like we're at like a standstill, and I don't know what to do. So my advice always is be as transparent as you feel comfortable within your relationship. And you know, don't wait until it's a really vulnerable moment, just bring it up casually and say, hey, here's how I feel about our friendship and I would love you know, and I kind of give them a script to get to go by, just to see just like, it's super vulnerable, put yourself out there. But I'm curious what your advice is on that, and what action would you advise someone to take if they're in that that place, maybe it's with a coworker, or, or a neighbor close by, or any friendship,
I love just kind of the direct approach. I'm much more like that too. And I also for some people, I feel like there's a few subtle ways to kind of try to build that and bridge that if that feels more comfortable before the direct approach. One is to is to ask yourself, like, am I pausing long enough and allowing myself to be quiet and listen and ask questions, because I know a lot of people, we get uncomfortable, and we feel like we have to fill the space and then we get home and we look back and go oh, I did most of the talking. Yeah, I dominated… So I think it's really powerful to actually stop and say, so after I asked him after I share something to be able to ask an open ended question like, have you ever felt that way? You know, or how have you handled that with your kids? And then just be quiet, you know, and just like, let them sit, and maybe they pause and we don't need to like jump in and say because it could be this way. I mean, we just like, let the quietness and like, and so I, just I'm like, really, I think that's the level one is to ask questions, and be quiet and listen and validate them.
You know, there's another layer of self-reflection there, people will be vulnerable when they feel safe, and when they feel loved, and when they don't worry about being judged. And so that might not be something we've done, it might be in the past that they have felt that, but we can look at our own behavior to and say, am I am I affirming her? Am I validating her? Am I making sure that she knows I won't judge her? You know, am I making sure that my language my expressiveness? Like, can and affirm it, whenever she does do it, even if it's a little bit say, I love learning that about you, thank you so much for sharing that with me. I love finding out new things about you, you know, we're like, oh, thank you, that must have like a really, it's really meaningful to me, I feel closer to you, when you share things like that to me, thank you.
And so find the moments where she is doing a little bit of it and really affirm that. And so I think there's like subtle approaches that we can do to really encourage the behavior we want. But for sure, I love your approach to and I would encourage, I would encourage at some point, just saying, I want to feel closer to you and I really like our walks, and I want to make sure that I'm a safe place for you to talk. I feel like sometimes I come home and I'm like, hey, I may have done more of a talking and I really want to get to know you because you're somebody who I'm really enjoying our friendship. And so, you know, is there anything I can do to help make it safer for you to share the things that are going on in your heart, you know, or in your life and stuff so…
I love that script? Yes, everyone, you can you can back that up 30 seconds and take that script that Shasta let us have. Thank you.
I was thinking about, like my own experiences with friendships and one thing that I've done a couple of times, probably only in new friendships where it might be the first time they've shared something really vulnerable is I right, off the bat, say I want to just acknowledge what you shared because that sounds like it was really hard for you to go through it are really hard for you to tell it and if I don't want this to just be implied, I want to tell you that this totally stays between you and me. Especially when it's something really hard, like their marriage or parenting. I think so many of us if not all of us have been burned by gossip, or you know what I mean, and been the bearer of gossip and hopefully I've come far enough now, where we, where we keep those things sacred. But I just I think all of us have walked away from a conversation where we've shared something really vulnerable and we're like, oh my god, what if she tells someone or have that vulnerability hangover, as Brené says, so that's something I put out there just to say…
I love that. I love it and our greatest fear, I mean, here's the thing is if we deeply know in our bodies, that we do better in community and connection, and the science shows that our brains and our bodies are meant to be in community, like we know this is a deep, deep need in our life, then the number one fear, it makes sense, would be having that risk in some way, which looks like, we don't want to feel judged by somebody, we don't want to be disliked by somebody. You know, we all carry these fears of like wanting to be to be accepted to fit in, to be loved, And so yeah, sharing something vulnerably we just have to remember that is everybody's next great fear is will I be received and so loved for what I just shared.
And so what you just did was so powerful. The more we can express that, because I've worked with women for so long on this. And I can tell you that almost every single one of us walks away from situations, different levels replaying like, was I interesting enough, did I talked too much, was I not good, like, do they like me. And so it's like, we have to sort of try to be good enough, right? And so anything we can say to the other person at the end of that conversation, like you just modeled, that helps them help speak back to that doubt voice that insecurity voice so it just says, I loved our walk today. Thank you. I love hearing your stories. Thank you so much for sharing them with me. And what you just did. Like it just helps the other person not walk away saying I wonder if they like me, I wonder if I'm okay. Like you want to just be verbal about that and say yes, I do.
I am still that person on the playground that's like I like you do want to be friends.
We need more we need more of you in this world. We need more of you.
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Well, you also talk about, and I hate to mention the big bad wolf of the pandemic but I think it's important when we're talking about our social relationships. So you mentioned that there's a poll that shows that 49% of people feel more, and I don't know if it's women or just people in general, feel more distant from friends and family, now more than a year ago, because of the pandemic. So how can women begin to foster and build connection with other others, now that we're, I mean, we're not on the other side of it quite yet, but we're in 2022, and, and it, you know, things are better.
Yeah, it's such an interesting thing. And we're, I'm watching the studies right now to see what balances out and whatnot because some people, a small percentage of people have gotten closer to people during this, which I just love seeing, you know, and that's been beautiful. And a lot of us, I just want to own a name and recognize that a lot of us are coming out of this with a lot more anxiety, which is playing out as social anxiety. A lot of us are coming out with more depression, which looks like having less energy for people, a lot of us, you know, have gotten used to a lot more quiet and non-busyness and I'm hearing from a lot of people, the feeling of like going to a social event, they're coming home just exhausted and a whole way that like, they're, it's almost like we lost our calluses like we are like so tender and raw.
I went to a conference last July, and I was like, I was in bed two days afterwards. And it was super awkward, where usually I'm not when it comes to new people. It's like I didn't know to do with my hands.
Yeah, and, and you're an extrovert, right? So I mean, it's like, we can have so much compassion for so many other energy types and stuff like that. And so yeah, all that to say, I think advices I want to be super careful with advice in that regard. But so I just want to say to everyone, like just take a self-stock a little bit and realize that relationships are a little bit like exercise, like they're good for you. And just as you wouldn't go out and like run a marathon without kind of training, like recognize that our social health is similar, and that the goal isn't, you don't need to just go out and like, be busy, busy, busy. And the goal is to just kind of start slow and start small and do what you feel like you can do and be gentle with yourself and recover. And know it's still worth doing.
And the number one thing is like take those three requirements that I talked about earlier, positive emotion, consistent time, and vulnerable sharing and we always start with positive emotion. And so that means when we're meeting people, the littlest things matter, you know, being able to smile at somebody, asking them their name, affirming something. When we're looking for five positive feelings for everyone negative feeling, the more we can help that person feel good in our presence, the more they're going to want to be around us. And so genuinely look for things that we can do to help them feel accepted and loved and remember their name and add, be curious and ask a question. And so just be thinking about how can I show up?
You know, when I walked, I walked into a room a few a few days ago, I was at a conference speaking and I walked in, I'm the speaker for crying out loud, I'm like, decked out beautifully, I'm an extrovert, I'm there to like, do my thing. I should not be feeling insecure. I walk into that room, and I'm like, oh, I don't know anybody, they all help each other, like, well, I'd be accepted, are they gonna like me, I mean, we all walk in with like this fear and I can catch it and myself, and then say, you know what, everybody else in this room, they look all so polished, and so happy but everyone in this room is just walking around wondering if they're going to fit in here, too. So I try to take myself out of the place of like, waiting for everyone else to help me feel like I fit in and instead just be like, what can I do to help somebody else feel like they belong here? You know, what can I do to help put somebody else at ease, and it kind of pulls me out of myself and just helps me show up and be like, look for the person who's like, by themselves, or service to you. Yeah, just think of yourself as trying to be a blessing to a few people right now. And those are the people that are going to want to be like, want to gravitate to you. We gravitate and show consistency with the people that leave us feeling good. So that's your number one goal is don't do don't worry about trying to look good, try to worry about leaving them feeling good. And when you can, like shift that perspective it makes such a difference for me, I think. Yeah.
Oh, that's interesting. And I'm guessing you're an extrovert along with me, right?
Yes. I’m a shy extrovert. I'm a shy extrovert.
I am a little bit too. It surprises people when I tell them how shy I was as a child and I think part of it is because I grew up an only child and half siblings that were much older than me and were out of the house by the time I was in kindergarten. So I was largely raised by myself. I think that I just sidenote, I feel like and I haven't asked a lot of extroverts this but I'm assuming that they're like me, and that we still feel awkward when we're at those social events where we don't know anyone. It's not that we don't know word we do, we just have some kind of switch that gets slipped where we are more likely to take a risk and talk to someone. But I don't know about you, but I won't talk to just anyone. Like, I scan the room and look for someone who's either made eye contact with me, who looks like they want to talk to people, but just haven't yet. You know what I mean? Like, I'm not going to talk to somebody who's scrolling through their phone, or has headphones in trying to, like get that low hanging fruit. And I also immediately asked them a question. I don't know if that's something I've just learned socially along the way, or it's an extrovert thing. But yeah, truth be told, we're still nervous.
We are. And in fact, there's I talked, I interviewed an introvert expert once and she was the one who kind of was like highlighting for me that there's a shy and non-shy scale and an extrovert introvert scale. And that was so eye opening to me, because I got off that that interview and I said to my husband, who is introvert, but he talks to everybody, and I could never understand this. I was like, oh, my gosh, you're a non-shy introvert. Like, we'll stand in the bank line, and he'll like, talk to the person next to us and I'm just like, oh, like, why are we talking to them? We don't know them. We don't ever need to see them again. Like, just like, let's enjoy our quiet time. And it's funny, because then he'll be more drained at the end of an event. But you know, and I'll be more energized. But it's like we both have different social anxiety levels, or in or shy levels, I guess is a better word.
But yeah, I think it is important to know, every single person feels… Because we're meeting strangers. So it's awkward, it's there's no way for it not to be awkward, it has nothing to do with you or anything you're doing wrong. It's just awkward to have two people who don't know each other, figure out what this dance is going to look like. And so yeah, to give yourself that compassion, and you can't wait for it to not feel awkward. You just kind of… I always compare it to the gym, or going and exercising and I just go we don't go to the gym, and are surprised when we start sweating. We don't go oh my gosh, this is so bad. I must be I need to stop this, this is horrible. We go expecting to sweat because we know that through the exertion through the pushing through that sweat through that extra stretching that is where the magic happens in physical health. And the same is true for social health. And it's when it starts we start emotionally sweating, that doesn't mean it's bad or wrong or that we need to pull away like there's a difference between injuring yourself and stretching yourself and we need to like we understand that difference at the gym and we need to get better practice in our social settings that saying this isn't an injury, this is me just being awkward and finding my way through this and it's my social health. I'm like building up my social health and that matters. So maybe that helps to just have some extra compassion on ourselves. But I love ya, I love that that that clarity for the extrovert thing. Do you feel like as an extrovert, what's the hardest part for you when it comes to making friends? Like so, it's not necessarily going up in the starting process? Okay, yeah, tell us.
So I know a lot of people hate small talk. I don't mind it. I don't mind it but I understand and feel that it is very much a means to an end. What I don't like about small talk is always feeling the pull to have big talk. So like, I want to ask them like, oh, so where are you from Shasta? Oh, you’re in San Francisco? Like, um, you know, who broke your heart and what happened? Like, I want to, like start making out like, immediately, like, not literally, but you know, I… That's what I'm curious about. I am not as curious about like, where you live, like, I want to know where your heart lives, like what's on your mind right now. And it's really bad emotional boundaries, like I don't recommend it. And it's like my old behaviors, and it's my way of trying to hotwire a connection and it's both that and I genuinely am curious. I love to hear why people think the way they do and behave the way they do. Like, what are you working on? What are you afraid of? What do you love? Like, those are the big questions, and I really am so hungry to hear about, but it's hugely inappropriate.
Well, I would like liken that back to you having a really strong vulnerability muscle, right? Like you've worked on that you have a capacity for it, you're comfortable with emotions, we can be more vulnerable, when we're self-aware of our own stuff. Like it's really hard to be vulnerable if we don't know who we are, really. And so you've really done, like, that's, that's a testimony to how much you've practiced all of those things. And, and I teach I teach all three of these requirements on a triangle I teach the positivity is the foundation of the triangle. So it has to always end up leaving us feeling good. And I don't end up by good, I don't mean happy, I just mean like we need to feel loved and accepted. And then the two sides of the triangle are consistency and vulnerability. And I teach that, as all relationships start at the bottom of that triangle and as we increase our consistency, so to shut our vulnerability increase, and then if it feels good, we should be increasing our consistency a little bit more, which means oh, that was fun. Look, I want to talk to Andrea again. Like let's do that again, right? And then every time we interact, hopefully we're learning a little bit more about it, each other, and then we interact a little bit more, and so those two should technically incrementally the science shows that the healthiest relationships continue to do that in small doses moving up.
And so, to your point, you also have the self-awareness to say, I don't need somebody to know everything in the first date. And that we want to leave we want to leave something to keep being discovered. But yeah, we absolutely should be continuing to like get to know each other a little bit better each and every time and feeling like we're, I know a little bit more about what you know, and what makes Andrea tick and who she is and, I love that about you. I think it's a beautiful gift.
It's small increments over time, you know. It can be harmful to come out and ask people questions like that, like, I don't want to re traumatize people and that's very much what can happen if I asked those questions too soon. And I love the research around trust that… I'm not sure if John Gottman was the person who did the research or if it's just he talks about it in the Gottman Institute a lot about how trust is built in small increments over time and Brené Brown talks about that in her work a lot and in our romantic relationships and in our friendships. And so I want to be, I'm not joking when I say it's largely inappropriate to ask those really big questions you soon like, it's, I'm serious, it can retraumatize people, it can scare them off. And, and there's a little bit of an art to it and a science. But I'm definitely going to start using the term emotional sweating. Like I’m writing that down?
Well, you know, we're so scared of it, we pull away so quickly and say, well, I just feel that just feels weird. Like, you know, like, like earlier when you were saying that you give people like a script to kind of try a more direct thing and we go, but that just doesn't feel natural. And I'm always like it doesn't. Of course it doesn't. Exactly. Like what's natural is like not getting you relationships, right? Like, we just all stuck with what's comfortable and easy. We are all lonely. I mean, right now that loneliness statistics are like 61% of us feel lonely on a regular basis, which means we feel like they don't have anyone to confide in, we don't feel like we really know who's there for us, who we can rely on, where we really feel like we've got the support system in place. I mean, that's means it's not the way we're doing. It isn't working for the vast majority of people. So yeah, we need to do a little relational sweat there.
Emotional sweat. Okay, I'm gonna ask you one more question before we close up and we tell everybody where to go get your books and everything. So what if someone has become more distant with a friend that they don't necessarily want the friendship to go away, they don't want to replace the friendship, but they want to repair the friendship. I hear this a lot. And they don't know where to start or what to say. So what advice might you have for them? And I know it's very nuanced. It depends on the the friendship, but can you speak generally to that?
Yeah. Are you speaking primarily to like, if there was a rift? Or if the more like a drift? Like they've just been kind of drifting apart and it's not very meaningful? Or…
I think if there was a drift.
Yeah, okay, yeah. Because that's always good to recognize those two different things. So a drift is… So if you think about that triangle, and you think about moving up that triangle, it's possible that was some people we were up toward the top of the triangle practicing the highest levels of vulnerability, consistency and express positive emotion. And then over time, we have a baby, one of us moves, you know, the life changes, and we realized that we still feel close to that person. But we really aren't practicing these three things on a regular basis. You have two choices, you basically need to either lower your expectations down that triangle to match what is currently the reality. It does not matter how much you loved this person in the past, if your consistency has, has drifted, which immediately means your vulnerability has lowered because you're not interacting as frequently and in each other's lives as much, and you're probably not feeling a ton of positive reward from it. So all three of those things have lowered, you either need to change your expectations to come down to the middle of the triangle, as opposed to the top of that triangle, which is so important because most relationship conflict happens because we want people to act like they're at the top of the triangle, when really what we're practicing with them is that the puts them in the middle of the triangle. And so usually we're disappointed in people not, like in expectations, we're mad at them for not meeting our expectations more than more than it warrants.
So either shift your expectations or the other alternative is to look at this and say, what would it look like? Which one of these three things is lagging the most, that if I were to pay attention to and focus a little bit more on so maybe we interact sporadically, but maybe that's because the positivity is low, and it hasn't been feeling that good. So what could I do to like add some more positive emotions into this friendship? Maybe we need to go do something fun together, maybe we need to take a break from both of us complaining about our jobs and say on this one phone call, let's just talk about some of the good things we're proud of that are going on in our lives, like what are some of the things are… But maybe we have maybe it always feels good when we talk and it's vulnerable. We have good vulnerability and positivity but we only talk twice a year, once a year. And so maybe we need to increase our consistency to help this relationship feel better. You know, or maybe we have consistency and positivity like we're a social group. We get together with the girls and we are out in a social group and we have a fun time so we've got consistency and positivity but we're not really being vulnerable anymore.
And so we can really quickly once you know these three things, you can start doing assessments in your head pretty quickly of different friends and say which one of these three things would make the biggest difference if I were to focus on, like raising that one up primarily in that relationship. And that's the most powerful information, you have it, because now you can customize the advice for yourself, and every single relationship, you now know how to like make a quick assessment of what would make a big difference in that and knowing that if you increase that consistency, you're automatically going to get more of the vulnerability and more opportunity to feel good about it. But as long as it's drifting apart, and not really interacting with less interaction, you can already see that if you aren't not interacting, you're not knowing what's going on in each other's lives. So it's impossible for you to feel seen by each other. And if you're not interacting, there's nothing there on which to feel of reward, or like affirmation or love or enjoyment. So that lack of interaction just automatically takes out those other two requirements pretty quickly. If you're not interacting, it's almost impossible to be feeling good or feeling close.
That's so… I love that. Thank you for that advice. And it's I love what you said to in the beginning about shifting your expectations. I think so much of our disappointment are based on expectations. And so, yeah, I've been I've been the victim of my own poor expectations, too high expectations, I should say. And it's, it's interesting, I can think of one friendship where we both had to shift our expectations of each other and it helped the friendship so much like my best friend Shelby, I really don't think that she'll care that I'm using her as an example. We were best friends in high school and throughout most of our 20s and then sort of drifted apart when she was having babies right when my life like completely fell apart. And then I moved and now our friendship consists of sending TikTok’s to each other that are reminiscent of our old life, and then if we're both around, we'll have like a fast and furious text conversation that will last for like 10 minutes and then one of us is like, I gotta go pick up my kids. And that is so fulfilling to me, I can’t speak for her, but I'm assuming it's super fulfilling to her. And also like she was when my dad died and I went back out to San Diego, she was the first person I called and said, hey, can you bring me a burrito, I want to just go eat and sit on the beach and she brought me a carne asada burrito and she and I sat on the beach and ate dinner because I was in Carlsbad where my dad was in hospice and, and I only left for like, 45 minutes. But I mean, she was the first person I thought of who was in the area that I knew if she could would drop everything and come, and bring a burrito.
Yes, and you could only do that, because you had some interaction with her, like you had a bridge that you felt like you could go on, you know, and like, I love that those texts and being able to send TikTok’s like those are, those may not be like, the big things, but that sitting on the beach happened, that was a big thing, because of the fact that you guys have kept up and found a way to be consistent, you know, and to have some interaction where you at least feel thought of by each other and just communicate channel is open. Absolutely.
That's what it is. It's like the sending back and forth of memes or TikTok’s says that this made me think of you. And yeah, it's so interesting how things change over the years. But thank you so much I learned I learned so much every time I talk to you about friendships and you know the thing that you are famous for in these parts. So tell everyone where, we're going to link to everything in the show notes, of course, as we always do, but tell everyone where they can go to find out more about you and to buy your books and all that good stuff.
So ShastaNelson.com is the website, the hub, that will have most all of that stuff on there. And, and I do speaking at organizations and conferences, and I would love to meet you, if you if you meet me somewhere, come tell me, you've heard me on this podcast. Andrea is a friend of mine. So that'd be awesome. And my three books The first one is Friendships Don't Just Happen and that's for if you're wanting to make friends as an adult. So that's a really good one, if you just moved to a new area or for you know, your kids out of college, that kind of stuff. The second book is called for Frientimacy and that's recognizing that most of us when we're lonely, it's that we want to go deeper with our friends. We don't need to go make new friends or more friends, we need to know how to go deeper with the friendships we have. And so Frientimacy is about how to go closer and deeper. And then my latest book is on The Business of Friendship and that's about workplace relationships and why every organization should be focusing on building friends with their employees for their sake and for the sake of the employees. So yeah, those are all on Amazon and everywhere. Everywhere they sell books.
And I'll link to your other to your other interview here on the show because the last time you were here, we talked specifically about your last book about making friends at work. So I for sure everyone should go listen to that. And thank you so much for being here. Again, my friend and listeners, thank you so much for your time.
Love it, love it. Wish you all so much love and all your friendships.
And all your friendships and remember everyone it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our life's responsibility to make the world a better place. Bye for now.
Hey everyone. Thanks again for listening to the show. And just a quick reminder that if your company needs a speaker or a trainer, I might be the right person for you. I speak and do keynotes on confidence and resilience for mixed audiences as well as do trainings on the daring way, which is the methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. So if you think it might be a good fit, hit me up at support@AndreaOwen.com or head over to my speaking page AndreaOwen.com/speaking.