Buzzword: Build Your Social Capital

We’ve heard before how important it is to have a support system of healthy relationships.  I’ve described it as having a garden of friends, each useful and beautiful in his or her own way.  

What isn’t often recognized is the importance of our daily interactions with those we don’t count as part of our support system.  Recently a story from the totally amazing Greater Good Science Center described this positive effect as a result of moms who put kids in daycare.  The brief pleasantries while picking up and dropping off eventually constitute an important interpersonal connection.

Similarly, exchanging short conversations with the check out clerk, the parking attendant, and the mailman are all ways that we can increase our social capital.

Think of social capital like a bank account; it is the collective value of all social relationships.  When it’s full, you are buoyed by comfort of connection.  You are not going to call on your spin class instructor when having a bad day, but knowing that a familiar face is waiting is a reminder to your psyche that you are not alone.

The key I like to focus on is NOT how big your network is.  This is not about quantity of Facebook friends.  Social capital is more about developing a disposition to develop and maintain these connections.  Therefore, we can use opportunities to practice this often.  Did you bank any social capital today?