All month long, I have been sharing ideas for what I call “hygge networking,” or a feeling of comfort and coziness and belonging pertaining to your relationship base. And, wow, does it feel great, and safe, and wonderful to belong!
In fact, an example of a true hygge network that immediately comes to mind is my friend, Sarah, and the “bubble” she and a few select others created during the height of the pandemic. Sarah told me that together with her boyfriend, her sister, her brother-in-law, her nephew, and one other couple, they made a pact to be together, to avoid contact with others as much as possible (so as to avoid COVID exposure), and to stay deeply involved in one another’s lives in order to push aside isolation. It worked! They describe this time in their collective lives as happy and high-spirited and jam-packed with wonderful activities, meals, and together time.
But… alas… as Meik Wiking shares in his Little Book of Hygge, there is a dark side to having a tight-knit social network: It does not readily admit newcomers.
This is evidenced by another example. In my hometown, Kansas City, there is a running joke that the prevailing behavioral attribute of all members of the community is “Kansas City Nice.” The notion is that we are just so darn nice! It seems great until you talk to people who are not native to the area. Anecdotally, I hear reports that, no matter how many years (decades!) some of them have lived in KC, they can’t seem to break fully into previously established social circles. They claim that when they get together with friends and neighbors, too frequently the bulk of the conversation centers on childhood memories, inside jokes, and topics from too many years ago to count. It makes them feel like perpetual outsiders. Harrumph! Perhaps not so nice after all, huh?
What can be done?
- If you are already part of a hygge network, take responsibility for intentionally including others, for breaking out of your typical network from time to time, for connecting with a new group of people.
- If you are one of those feeling left out, aside from hard work and persistence, seek others who are like you… others who seem like they, too, have had trouble penetrating particular friendship circles, and create your own.
- Whichever side of the network you find yourself on, remember that if your social circle is shut too tightly, you will never get access to new ideas, new information, or new resources. Be sure to keep your relationship base open enough to welcome-in others, to expand your connections in an authentic and meaningful way, and to ensure that others feel included, too.