Developing the breadth and depth of friendships


“Depending on one’s personality and character, one should have a flair in developing either the breadth (the number of friends one have) or depth (the level of mutual understanding and respect between ourselves and our friends) of our friendships, but often not both. This is because time is required for both breadth and depth and this need for divided time often causes one to choose between the two, based on one’s natural inclinations. There are many who feel that developing breadth is the way to go (even for those who are more inclined to develop depth in friendships) since business profits and revenue hinge and leverage on the number of connections and networks. This is especially so for businesses whose lucrativeness depends on numbers and contacts. Nevertheless, in the absence of trust and respect, a large number of contacts does not imply that referrals made will be recurrent and continuous. The fact that one-time-deals does not equate to profitability should not be discounted. There has been literature in recent years lambasting efforts by individuals who distribute name cards to increase their potential customer outreach in social events without even getting to know the other parties better. While there is certainly great merit in developing breadth in friendships (such as getting to knowing more people with diverse talents, which is useful when one has an intent to start an entrepreneurial business team) and there are indeed individuals who are great at this, care should also be given to give the other party enough attention that they regard us as friends – and not merely acquaintances.

One who is strong in developing breadth should try their skills in developing the depth of their friendships, although this is never easy since this is not their natural strength. In the event that time constraint is an issue, do it selectively. Start by developing rapport with those whose personality and inclinations are similar to yours, learn and master the necessary rapport-building skills and then move on to befriend someone who is rather different from you in personality and taste, until you are able to converse and get on well with someone who is totally different. The art of listening must be mastered to be effective. Speaking is secondary. For those who have a flair for developing depth, such individuals has a tendency to stick with the first few individuals whom they share a rapport and stay there, without making an effort to “work the room” to increase their interactions with others. Conversational skills are crucial here. A person who is skilled in deepening the depth of friendship and widening the breadth of their friendships with others is a rare talent. However,  it is a talent that is not innate and inborn but nurtured and developed.”


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