Interaction Across Social Media Platforms

I recently received an interesting comment on my 10 Thoughts for Friday post. I mentioned in the post that I respond to invites from people on LinkedIn with a short message asking them to clarify why they’re connecting with me. My wording:

Hi x, 

Thank you for the invitation to connect on LinkedIn! I wanted to check in and see what you were interested in connecting about since I don’t believe we’ve met in person.  

Thank you and take care,

Cristina

Vicki commented on the post and urged me to accept the LinkedIn contacts, stating that “Nearly never will you be connected to by a weirdo – and if you are, it doesn’t reflect on you. LinkedIn is simply about building your network, sharing ideas, and making new business acquaintances…” In contrast, her thoughts were to be more cautious with Facebook and Twitter: “this is where I might use your response, to vet your new connections.” Lastly she said “You want your FB friends to actually be friends (or, I do).”

All of this got me thinking about how different individuals interact across social media platforms, their actions often based on assumptions or past experiences. Although there are very few formal rules governing our social media interactions, people have formed divergent ideas of etiquette- some platform by platform and others about social media as a whole.

Here is how I approach each platform and why:

  • LinkedIn: By now, you know my philosophy on LinkedIn. I accept people I know and follow up with those I don’t know. But there’s a reason that I don’t readily accept everyone: I actually had a weird experience with LinkedIn that changed my perspective a bit. I was added by an individual who was connected to others that I know and trust. Turns out, he wanted me to join his iffy business venture. I don’t think I would have been so trusting if I hadn’t seen that others I knew were connected to him. Hence my reasoning for being more cautious in accepting invites. There are also features on LinkedIn that lend themselves to keeping a curated network. You can ask contacts to connect you to their contacts. If people in the chain don’t know each other in real life, it dilutes the effectiveness of this feature because they are unable to vouch for each other. For more on my LinkedIn philosophy, see my post To Connect or Not to Connect: The Rules of LinkedIn.
  • Twitter: My love affair with Twitter is well-known. I see it as the most open of all the social networks. I welcome any and all follows that are not porn bots 🙂  Unless you have a closed account, you can’t control who follows you, so I don’t think it reflects on you (in contrast to LinkedIn, for example, where you have to make a decision whether to accept or reject a connection). As for who I follow: if I am interested in the content of the tweets, I will follow the person. I see Twitter as more about content than relationships (in contrast again to LinkedIn).
  • Foursquare: I sometimes get requests from strangers on FourSquare, which I decline. I share the check-ins that I want others to see on Twitter, but I prefer only my friends to see some, so I think it’s important to keep this network closed.
  • Facebook: As Vicki said, Facebook is for your real friends. 100% agreed! As I said in my comment to her, I see it as the only place on the internet where I can be my 22 (almost 23!) year old self. One thing that makes it slightly more complicated: Raleigh networking is very casual, so sometimes the line between friend and acquaintance blurs. In the past year, I’ve begun accepting business contacts, which I have mixed feelings about.
  • Pinterest: I’m not sharing anything particularly personal, so I’m flattered when people follow my boards. I follow boards of friends and other people that I stumble upon 🙂
  • Blog: The more the merrier!

Clearly, I approach each social media platform differently. I think it’s important to do so because they all have unique missions and features that make them more fitting for one kind of relationship over another (i.e. LinkedIn provides more value to business relationships than friendships). If I were to approach each platform in the same way, I may as well just be using one, right?

Where do you stand? Why? Do you approach social media as a whole or platform by platform? 

Thank you to Vicki for prompting such an interesting discussion!

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There’s Always Something

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Some people approach life with a “glass half empty” mentality, believing that there is always something to be upset about. And guess what? There is. From trivial issues- like an unpaid bill or a fight with a friend- to bigger problems- like foreclosure, poverty, or illness- there is always something in life to get down about, fret about, and worry about.

But do you want to live your life constantly focusing on things that could go wrong?

On the flip side, there’s always something to be happy about. Maybe you refer to it as finding the silver lining. Or Pollyannaism {based on the movie character Pollyanna, who played The Glad Game where she found something to be glad about in every circumstance}.

I’m not saying you should sweep your own problems under the rug; trivialize other people’s concerns; or adopt a “who cares” attitude about world issues.

What I am encouraging is acknowledging that you can always see life from two perspectives: generally positive or generally negative. In my experience, approaching is from a negative mindset doesn’t accomplish much except worry, anxiety, and stress.

So how are you going to approach life today?

P.S. A little “glass half full” humor:

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Weekly Check-In: The Rooms of Your Life

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Ever heard of The Nine Rooms of Happiness: Loving Yourself, Finding Your Purpose, and Getting Over Life’s Little Imperfections? The premise of the book is that each room in the house correlates to a different area of your life:

The bedroom for love and intimacy, the family room for grown siblings and parents, the bathroom for body image, health, and vanity, the living room for friends, the office for bills, career and so on.”

I always think of this analogy when I assess my life because it helps ensure that you don’t leave out one critical area!

Whenever I feel overwhelmed {or to prevent feeling overwhelmed} I do a check-in of each “room” of my life.

Financials: Are all my bills paid? Did I stick to my budget this week? Could I cut out any expenses next week?

Health: Do I feel like I exercised enough? Did I infuse exercise into my daily actions? Did I eat healthy, fresh foods? What do I regret eating {usually gluten!} that I can work on next week? Did I get enough sleep?

Relationships: Have I maintained a good balance of my relationships? Have I made an effort to keep in touch with friends and family in other cities? Have I done so even if things are going well for me {I find it’s easier to remember to contact friends when you need support!}? Do I have any interpersonal issues I need to address? Did I apologized when I needed to? Did I make an effort to make new friends or strengthen current friendships? Did I do kind things for friends and family?

Career: Did I put in the necessary hours this week? What did I excel at? What could I have done better? What advice, tips, and feedback can I take in to improve my performance? Did I ask for or take feedback?

Mental health: How do I feel emotionally? How can I maintain or improve my mood? Are things at home organized and clean? Have I pampered myself {painted nails, hair cut, etc}?

Intellectual health: Did I challenge myself intellectually through absorbing new information? Did I stay up-to-date on current events? Did I pursue interests outside of work?

Community: Was I proud of who I was this week? Did I make an effort to brighten the days of people around me with small gestures? Did I make the community better {by volunteering or otherwise?}? Did I take advantage of the city?

P.S. My blog posts have been a bit heavy lately. I’m doing great and having plenty of fun, but thinking a lot about self-improvement and personal growth. I’m not sure the exact catalyst for this, but hopefully these posts help you if you’re experiencing similar sentiments!

On Feeling Afraid and Not Doing It

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I recently read a post on Yes and Yes entitled On Feeling Afraid And Doing It Anyway. The title is a pretty accurate summary of the blog post, but another quote jumped out at me “I do not let the fears determine my behavior.”

I get that. I really do. There are times when I’ve been afraid or nervous or fearful of something, but I did it anyway. It was empowering, uplifting, and reassuring. I’ve confronted people I needed to stand up to; I started a business; and I joined a kickball team. Respectively, that got me the opportunity to build stronger relationships and to end unhealthy ones; a chance to build a community hub in Raleigh; and several new friends and an athletic outlet. The payoffs of my actions have far outweighed the fear or nervousness I harbored.

But there are other times when I wonder if it’s okay to be afraid and not do it. The idea of skydiving makes me nauseous; the idea of holding a snake scares the living daylights out of me; and I really have no desire to ride an upside-down roller coaster.

Am I hiding behind fear? You could argue that. But I think I’ve just weighed the benefits against the stress and anxiety and decided it’s not worth it.* The feeling of skydiving might be unparalleled; holding a snake may make me fine seeing them on hikes; and riding a roller coaster might be liberating. But I’m willing to take the risk of not finding out because it just doesn’t feel worth it.

So before you feel peer pressured into doing something you’re scared of, ask yourself: What’s the payoff? Do the benefits outweigh the negatives? Does this action have long-term benefits in your life or is it a one-time experience?

And learn to say “No thanks, I’m good.”

What do you think? Do you think it’s okay to be scared and chose to not act? Any examples? 

*Don’t hold me to this. I may do any of the above one day 🙂

Does It Really Come When You Least Expect It?

As the adage goes, things {like relationships} happen when you least expect them. Accordingly, people tell you to stop searching and just wait for something great to come along.

But when you move to a new city, do you wait for friends to come along? No, you join Meetup groups and kickball teams and go to classes at the Y. When you get fired, do you wait for a job opportunity to come along? No, you find networking events and search CareerBuilder religiously.

So why doesn’t this logic apply to relationships? Why is putting yourself out there, testing out speed dating, or joining an online dating site often considered desperate instead of just taking control of your dating life?

I’m all about the philosophy that things happen for a reason and often things do come when you least expect them. But I don’t use that mentality as justification for sitting back and hoping luck takes over. On the flip side, I do think there’s a big difference between getting out there and being flat-out desperate.

I also think there’s something to be said for living a full, engaged life and having side benefits {like a relationship!} be part of your “reward.”

What do you think? Do things happen when you least expect them or do you need to put yourself out there? 

Whenever I write my Thought of the Day posts, I think about the fact that you can find a piece of wisdom to match anything you feel. Ever noticed that?

For more on my philosophy on created luck, see this post!

The Fine Line Between Sharing and Gossiping

Have you ever said something negative to a friend or significant other about someone else under the guise of “venting” or “sharing”? I obviously never have, but here are my thoughts 😉

There’s a fine line between sharing and gossiping, but let’s address gossip first: some people will tell you it’s a wholly negative thing but I don’t completely agree. We actually derive some benefits from sharing and gossiping:

1) It makes us feel closer to the person we’re speaking with. Like it or not, gossiping is a form of bonding and provides us with shared experiences.

2) It provides us with an outlet for venting and can validate our feelings by allowing us to see that others feel the same way.

3) It can provide an escape from a situation or relationship. For example, say you and a friend hang out with a third person regularly because you both think the other enjoys the third person’s company. Sharing might make you both discover that neither of you enjoys this person’s company, so you can both cut ties.

None of this is to say that gossip is all good. It can hurt the person you’re discussing; it can harm your other relationships if people consider you a gossip; and it can make you feel guilty.

So where’s the line between sharing and gossip? Clearly, I love finding the fine lines between things. When does it move from being a productive, meaningful activity to being careless or even mean-spirited?

My lifelong difficulty is that I have no filter. I say what I think around people I’m comfortable because I don’t believe in boundaries {which is a topic for another blog post though here’s one on blogging boundaries}. But every so often, I cringe a little inside after I carelessly let a snippet of gossip emerge in front of someone I’m close to…self-improvement time 🙂

Where is the line between sharing and gossiping? What are other benefits and consequences of the two? Which is more important: your motive or the outcome? 

P.S. Apparently a study showed that volunteers’ heartbeats increased when the people witnessed negative behaviors by others but leveled out when the person was able to tell someone about the incident. Psychosocial benefits of gossip, y’all!

P.P.S. There is some validity in this:

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Who Should You Consider When Making a Career Decision?

Some people will tell you that the only thing that matters when making a career decision is you. I disagree- which may seem like it contradicts what I said here, but I promise it doesn’t!

I do believe that, ultimately, making yourself happy is the most important outcome of all. But here are some other entities you should consider- partially because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it will affect you now or in the future.

  • Family: Your family is ultimately affected by your career decisions- either directly or indirectly- be it because of changing finances, relocation, or having to deal with your emotions. At my age, family isn’t generally a huge consideration except if you are in business with a family member, like I am with my sister. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have to consider how any career decision I make will affect her.
  • Coworkers: Your current coworkers will undoubtedly be affected by any career move you make, especially if you decide to leave without sufficient notice or during a particularly busy time. Even if you don’t have strong ties to your coworkers, consider how their perceptions and opinions may affect you in the future- like if they are asked for a recommendation by your future employer…
  • Future employer: Before making a career move, it’s important to think about how your future employer will view your decision. Do you come across as flaky and unable to commit if you leave your job before two years? Does closing your business represent giving up or making the responsible choice? All important questions to ask yourself.
  • Community: In a perfect world, the opinion of distant others wouldn’t carry much weight. But particularly in a small community, news travels fast and the grapevine is always hard at work. Unfortunately, thinking about how your career decision will be perceived by those around you is critical.

What other people should be considered before making a career decision? Do you disagree about any of the above? 

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A Look into Codependency

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“Codependency, by definition, means making the relationship more important to you than you are to yourself” – Source

“When we focus so much outside ourselves, we lose touch with what is inside of us: our beliefs, thoughts, feelings, decisions, choices, experiences” – Source

As a very independent person, I have a {probably unwarranted} fear of codependency. For many people, codependency is a very serious issue that often goes hand-in-hand with mental health issues or substance abuse. For me and in this blog post, I just mean a much less serious but still important tendency to over-rely on those around you, like a family member or significant other.

Like feeling the need to ask permission from someone before making a decision. Consulting the other person before making solid plans. Seeking approval and affirmation from the person. Sensitivity to criticism from said person. Maybe feeling like this person should reciprocate the above feelings.

Here’s some tips on how to overcome it codependency if you feel yourself slipping into it:

  • Work on maintaining or establishing your own life: make and keep plans with your own friends; pick up your own hobby; join a team {like kickball!}.
  • Make time for yourself: just because you can hang out with someone doesn’t mean you always should. Making time for yourself is just as important as maintaining your other relationships.
  • Take ownership of your schedule: unless there’s an absolute need to consult the other person, set your own agenda. Don’t leave your schedule open solely in hopes that the other person will want to hang out.
  • Find inner peace or even approval from others: it’s not always enough to know you’re awesome, sometimes you need to hear it. Keep an Evernote of positive things people say to you. If you’re not getting great feedback from the person you feel codependent on, turn to your note as a reminder that other people think highly of you.

Have you ever felt codependent? How did you overcome or mitigate this tendency?

on improving relationships

Since adding Tiny Buddha to my Google Reader, I think I’ve starred about 75% of the posts so that I could remember to come back to them! I always find their daily reminders relevant, insightful, and memorable.

Buddha…with shades!

A recent article really caught my eye though: The Relationships We Wish We Could Improve. I’m willing to wager that most of you have felt like you wanted to improve a current relationship but felt at a loss for how to do it.

This is one of those articles where I want to copy and paste the whole thing, but I’ll just provide you with a few of the points and quotes that stood out to me :

“Years ago, a therapist told me we can’t ever change other people; we can only change how we respond to them.” 

“But what do we do when we respond more calmly, or try to see things differently, but we still find ourselves getting hurt?”

“I’ve learned that changing our response to people means changing how we engage with them.”

“… it’s our job to recognize that so we don’t continually cause ourselves stress by trying to smash a square peg into a round hole.”

“…we change when we realize what we might lose if we don’t, and recognize that the discomfort of doing things differently is better than the pain of that loss.”

“We can’t make someone else make an effort. But we can make smart decisions for our own well-being. This may inspire someone else to change; it might not. Either way, we’ve honored the most important relationship in our lives: the one we have with ourselves.”

But the quote that stood out to me the most:

“It might mean refusing to feel guilty or defensive, taking things less personally, or modeling the type of behavior we’d like to see in them.”

I have a really hard time not feeling guilty even if I know or feel that I’m in the right. This guilt often prevents me from making rational decisions or standing my ground, so this point really spoke to me. I also often take things personally, even if I know it’s not about me. Lastly, I love the suggestion of modeling behavior that we would like to see- reminds me of the Golden Rule. I think it’s important to find the fine line between being kind and having a backbone, though.

Did this article speak to anyone else? What other techniques do you use for managing and improving relationships? 

on trusting your gut

My gut is right 99.9% of the time. Life should be easy, right? Not so quick- I’d wager to say I trust my gut about 75% of the time. The other 24.99% of the time, I think back hours, days, or weeks later and scold myself for not going with my gut. In retrospect, things are always so clear. Or, as they say:

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Actually, I think “they” only say the second part but this Pinterest image made me laugh.

Things are clear in hindsight, but it would be awesome if they could be so clear in the present. I’m blessed with an almost foolproof gut, but my challenge is to learn to distinguish between my gut and my other natural responses.

Sometimes I’ll have a negative gut reaction to something and think “I’m being too judgmental” or “It’s just a little thing; I should overlook it.” And you know what? Sometimes I am being too judgmental and sometimes it is just a little thing!

I’m still working on how to tell the difference but in the meantime, I have a few techniques that generally help me.

  • Ask other people but take it with a grain of salt: Dating someone new? Find out what other people think but remember that it’s not the end-all-and-be-all. Choose the people who you consider good judges of character 🙂
  • Make a weighted pro and con list: Sometimes just the act of making a pro and con list can help you realize what you really want. But take into account that everything is not valued the same. Accepting a new job? A great work environment might be a pro and a lower salary may be a con, but which do you actually value more?

How do you distinguish between following your gut and not dismissing things too quickly? Any techniques for learning to trust your gut?