Pros and Cons of Mixing Social Circles

social circles

We all live in a world of bubbles, aka “groups of friends that never shall mix.” We have our work friends, our high school friends, our old job friends, our significant other’s friends, our sports team friends, our college friends, our online friends, our weekend friends, our travel friends, etc. You get the idea.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t make an effort to mix these groups. Hell, many of us go out of our way to make sure they never run into each other, ever (you saboteur you). Why is that? What is the fear? A friend of mine recently put this to the test, inviting 18 people into her home who had little connection to one another. It went well. Really well.

So let’s look at the “pros” and the commonly perceived “cons”:

Pros:

–       Expand social circles. Most communities are populated with comfortable niches that are hard to break into, so by introducing a few new faces to new faces; it’ll help bring the community a little closer. More people to say hi to when you pass them on the street.

–       Learn things about your friends you didn’t know. Why is Lisa suddenly speaking German? Tom was married before? When did Sue visit Nepal? Exposing people to others with different experiences will highlight skills, backgrounds and histories you didn’t even know about long-time friends.

–       Enrich relationships. With a larger group of people, you’re opening them up to new opportunities (Work? Events?) and/or exposing them to new insights. For example, I recently met some German travellers at a bubble-busting party that really re-ignited my memories and love of travel and has now got me thinking of getting myself there this summer. AND those same German travellers already have offered me a place to stay.

Perceived Cons:

–       They’ll hate each other and hate me for it. No they won’t and no they won’t. These are your friends and you know them better than anyone else so make sure you just don’t invite the jerks of your social circles (we all have them).

–       They’ll have nothing in common. They already have something in common: You. At the very least, the conversations will start with how everyone knows the hosts.

–       They won’t mingle. This is where alcohol might help. Or a board game.

So, how do you go about bringing your social circles together? Here’s three things to keep in mind:

1)   Don’t Be Afraid They Won’t Get Along – If these are really your friends, there will already be a built up bank of trust. It’s the “our mutual friend likes us and we’re good people so they must be good people, too”. They’re all adults and it’ll be up to them to determine how much they want to reveal or connect about. They won’t all be BFFs but at the very least, they could be comfortable acquaintances.

2)   Don’t Try to Do too Much – Stick to a few bubbles, not all your bubbles. For one thing, your place can’t probably fit them all comfortably. For another, it’ll be overwhelming to your guests. They came to your party to meet new people and you don’t want them to feel like they barely scratched the surface if they only got to speak to a few. A good mixer number is 6-10 attendees.

3)   Variety is a Good Thing – Just because your separate groups of friends have a common skill or background (accountants, techies, travellers, etc.), that doesn’t mean you should only invite them. Mix it up. The best way to have interesting conversations and discover new ideas is by not sticking to “theme” aka like-minded, similar-experience friends.

So do some bubble bursting. Gather a bunch of friends from your various social circles and let the run wild. You’ll be amazed at the fun you’ll have and the things you’ll learn. Have any stores of bubble bursting you’d like to share? Tips to doing it well? The comments await you…

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