Next: Spiritual Exercises  | Contents | Site Home

Social Wellness Dimension Exercises

Social wellness exercises are mainly for the personal safety. In the affluent countries where physiological needs are relatively well gratified the safety needs become the basic in hierarchy of needs, known as Maslow's hierarchy. Therefore social wellness is the base for all other wellness dimensions.

People will not help you if you do not build the interpersonal relationships with them. It may happen that they even will not call the police or ambulance when you are crying for the help and not because the people are bad or they hate you. Simply you don't exist for them as a person. "All in all you're just another brick in the wall" or a leaf in the tree that they have never noticed and that suddenly starts to cry. They don't understand also whether you are crying out for them or for others.

This social phenomenon was first studied in the social psychology after famous Kitty Genovese case when the woman cried for the help in the yard about 30 minutes. 38 neighbors heard her and only two called the police. One did not understand that this is serious, other called too late. 36 people did not call.

Special bystander intervention researches has shown that it is in the human nature, i.e. you should not expect other behavior if the people don't know you personally or at least if you don't appeal to them personally.

In order to develop the personal relationship you have to regularly give a person some "new" personal information about yourself and, what is may be even more important receive the "new" information from the person. It is not enough to say "Hi!" every day because due to habituation it will eventually become automatic and you will stop to notice each other or in other words return to previous not personal relationships.

To keep the minimal personal relations with the neighbors we should do it at least once a week. The reason is that even if we are lucky and the person remembers the last meeting with us because we impressed her/him or were interesting, people tend to half their memory in about a week. Naturally it may be impossible to keep the personal relations with all neighbors, but to make friends at least among some nearest neighbors is very desirable.

As for how long to talk with the neighbors it of course depends on situation and opportunities. The shortest time is the time to exchange the personal news. However, if the time is short, it is important to be interesting, impress the person, so that he/she could remember us. If we failed to produce the impression, the person forgets the half of the conversation in an hour as any dull event (see. Section 29 of the classic Hermann Ebbinghaus's work) The ideal time, is therefore as usual about 45 minutes because it's the typical time of the lecture of the average interest.

We see that to keep relations with the neighbors we should in general spend for it at least an hour once a week and better more. Since it is impossible to do on strict scheduler and since we ourselves forget what we planned to do in about a week, the flexible wellness monitor usually is needed to remind us.

It is known, that to build the relationships it is important to discover and establish so called "common ground". It may be for example some work for the community that gives benefits to all the neighbors or common hobby or an event organized for the neighbors. If you cannot find the common ground, try to invent it.

The relationships in the work with your nearest colleagues, i.e. the members of the team who roughly have the same position in the corporate hierarchy is similar to the relations with the neighbors with the benefits that in this case your work is your common ground. So the similar rule is applied. Try to talk about something personal at least with some your team members not less than once a week and try to spend for this not less than an hour per week. Also try to be interesting, that often means actually encourage others to talk about themselves.

The family relationships should be deeper. Your family is in a way the part of you, so here the general rule that is valid for you personally is applied: not less than 45 minutes three times a week and better twice as that. It is more effective and you save time if will be the common ground or event where all the entire family member participate. If you scheduler allows it may be for example the dinner when all family members may exchange the personal news and feelings. So in average we would recommend to spend for the family relationships at least six hours a week and better one hour a day than just six hours in weekend.

If you do not exchange the news with the family members regularly, i.e. not build the family relationships with them, due to the habituation you will eventually loose the personal contact. About 65% couples were getting divorced in 2004 because of the family strains, abuse, mid-life crisis and workaholism; and only 29% because of extra-marital affairs. Here the same universal wellness entropy low works. If you do nothing you get the disorder i.e. the divorce. Love relationships, though necessary, in a way less important in the family life than the general interpersonal relationships. Remember that honeymoon (or "Lust") lasts only about six month but some couples leave together the whole life. It is not a big secret how they achieve this. They just ask each other about their personal news and feelings every day all their life. As mentioned one great author "Happy families are all alike".

Our wellness depends not only on the people that we meet everyday: neighbors, colleagues, family members. It depends also on our bosses, local authorities our legislature (parliament and congress) and government. Our wellness depends on them both directly and indirectly. For example the environment depends both on the law (legislature) and how it is actually observed (local authorities, government).

Naturally, few of us may be, say, the president friends simply because the president as any other human being simply in general cannot keep the personal relations with more than about 150 people (Dunbar's number). So in most cases it is more realistic to build the personal relationships only with people that are no more then one or two levels higher in the social hierarchy than we are and try to influence the authorities via them. In social science it is usually called social networking and it is known that the chain of acquaintances required to connect one person to another arbitrary person anywhere in the world is generally not more than six.

In building relations with the persons that are higher in the social hierarchy, lets call all of them bosses for short, we should rather calculate how much time the boss may spend for us than speculate about how much time we may spend for the boss. The nearest both in the social hierarch usually has between three and 20 individuals under her/his charge. This number actually is limited by our working memory capacity i.e. ability to keep in the quick part of our memory all the team members. To simplify, let us assume that there are 10 members in the team. If say the boss may spend not more than 10% of his working time for building the personal relations with her/his team, it means for 40 working hours in a week about (40 hours x 60 min x 10%) / (100 x 10 people ) = 24 min, i.e. about 30 min a week. It is similar to neighbors and colleagues. There is no wonder because the nearest boss usually also the team member.

The boss in the second level of the social hierarchy may directly manage the same 10 bosses from the lower level, i.e. has about 10x10 =100 subordinates. So you may hope only for about 30 /10 =3 minutes for her/his attention a week. Try to use these 3 minutes to make the impression because it is the only way to stay in the memory of boss from the second level till the next meeting.

The boss in third level of the social hierarchy already has 10x10x10 = 1000 persons under her/his charge and we have a little hope to be among 150 people whom he/she can remember personally.

We should consider at least three types of bosses or the hierarchy in the three dimensions: first our work, then the society (local community) and also health if we talk about the wellness. Though such persons like physicians are not our bosses in traditional sense they are higher in the medicine hierarchy than we and we generally obey their orders (prescriptions). Unfortunately the physicians and community leaders often are in the second level of the hierarchy relative to us i.e. responsible for about the Dunbar's number of people. Therefore in general we may hope only for three minutes of their time a week to establish the personal relationships.

It worth to note that the "bosses" with whom we build relationship are not necessary our direct bosses. Sometimes we and our bosses are two different to find the common ground. However they usually are the bosses in the first and second level of the social hierarchy relative our own position because as was explained above the bosses of the higher levels in general simply cannot keep the personal relations with us.

If we ourselves are bosses, as was mentioned above in general we may spend about 10% of our work time building the personal relations with the team members i.e. about one hour a day. The good question is why we should do it. The reason is as usually the safety. People are more likely to tell you about the problems that just appear when they feel that you are friendly. Otherwise they could try to fix it themselves too long or simply tell nothing so you may discover the problem when it is already too late to fix.

The social wellness "exercises" is convenient to batch with other wellness exercises as shown in the Typical Wellness Exercise Program page.

As for the interpersonal skills, i.e. about the technique to build the interpersonal relationships, you may read e.g., the classic Dale Carnegie book "How to Win Friends and Influence People". New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 1982.


Copyright © 2006-2018 Vadim Motorine. All rights reserved.