Social Hierarchy

Posted: January 7, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

“Everyone is your best friend when you are successful. Make sure that the people that you surround yourself with are also the people that you are not afraid of failing with.”~ Paula Abdul

Welcome to my 201st blog post on WordPress. Wow! In less than one year’s time I have written that many. Either I have had a lot to say or I’m pretty bored with myself. So then let’s talk about friends.

 
I’ve noticed a lot that many people talk about their best friends. Some say that they are married to their best friend, or dating their best friend. Others say that they’ve done this or that with their best friend and so on. And that’s pretty awesome if you have a relationship with another person that you feel that comfortable with them that you are married to them or simply that you are spending a lot of your social interactions with that person.
 
And so I must mention the construct of the label of our relationships. It brought me to do a little digging on how this hierarchy works. After some personal discussion, I thought it might be a worthy effort.
 
Many will say, “They are my BFF”, when relating to one person. Others have broken it down to “best friends”, but they attach further distinction to them to the point that it all begins to sound like categories for the Academy Awards.
 
“Best female friend”
“Best male friend from high school”
“Best friend from that one time at that one party…”.
 
And on and on and on.
 
I began to wonder: Can a person actually have more than one “best friend”. The word ‘best’ alone implicates that the label in which it is attached to is the absolute favorite amongst all of the rest. They’ve won First Prize in the sea of friends and other social interactions. They are the top of the mountain, but is there really room for more than just one?
 
Even I have used the term “best friend” to describe more than one person. I’ve never broke them down into categories, but they are my “best friend”. And I’ve had my own reasons for doing so. Plus it is how I am expressive.
 
So off I went to find out all about it. This is what I found out:
 
 
 
 
There is definitely a structured hierarchy here. It does exist, and it was something that I wasn’t fully aware of until I researched it.
 
The Hierarchy of Relationships basically breaks down all of the relationships in your life into five categories: cabinet, peers, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Then the circle is divided in half. The Hierarchy of Relationships can be applied to both personal and professional relationships.
How the Hierarchy of Relationships works

Cabinet

This group comprises the closest, most trusted people in your life. These are the people in your life that you can count on for anything at any time. You would move heaven and earth for these people and it’s fair to expect the same of them.

Peers

These people are those that you love and respect, and they love and respect you. You’re open and honest with each other, and they’ll empathize with you.

Friends

Your friends are the group of people that you spend time with, go out with on the weekends, maybe invite over for dinner now and then. Perhaps you’ve known them for a long time or maybe you’ve just recently met. They’re not as close as your cabinet or peers and you probably wouldn’t ask them to go out of their way for you.

Acquaintances

These are the people you meet through work, networking events, at your kids’ sporting events, or through other social networks. You see them occasionally and when you do the conversation is polite.

Strangers

This group includes all of the people you haven’t met yet. Pretty straight forward.

How to use the Hierarchy of Relationships

Sit down and make a list out of your “Must have/do” and “Must never” lists for each category of our Hierarchy. It was helpful to sit down and really think about what I expect from every person in my life, however I know them. It’s also useful to apply the Hierarchy of Relationships to professional relationships. Part of being satisfied at work is know what your values are and what you won’t put up with from coworkers, clients, and employers.

It’s interesting to dive into this exercise. Sometimes we put people into certain groups, even though the relationship has changed over time. You might think a best friend from high school would be a cabinet – but after looking at your needs and requirements, they could turn out to be a friend or acquaintance. This was something that totally captured my attention and at this point, I kept digging.

Similarly, we might expect at first glance that our family is in our cabinet. That might be true for some but Maybe some family members belong in the acquaintances. It’s not a bad thing; people change as life progresses. By understanding what kind of expectations you have of the people in your life and then let them know.

Explain this tool to them. Tell them what they mean to you. Chances are good that it will only increase the depth of the relationships you already have.

So it is because of this, I believe that the label of “BFF’ is a bit flawed. Simply because that particular person that is in our cabinet now, might not be there in the long run of the future. The “BFF” label indicates no end to the relationship.

I know what you are thinking. Nobody wants to think of a friendship coming to an end. I sure don’t want to think about the termination of any relationship that I have any one at the current time either. But we don’t know what the future holds. That’s all I am saying when I say that its flawed. So put down the pitchforks and the torches.

It is fascinating for me to go through this example and realize that perhaps those people that I thought were the closest of all buddies, probably don’t even fit inside the cabinet as I thought (or would like to think.)

This is by no means an excercise of how to get rid of those people who aren’t in your cabinet or whom you suddenly start to believe that the person isn’t a friend at all. Just because they aren’t in your cabinet doesn’t mean that the relationship is worthless.

But people will come and go and slip in and out of the circle some how. Its all depending on your own personal needs at that particular time. I’ve personally gone through times when someone that I call a “best friend” wasn’t around during some days, but then after that they came back. The road we take with people doesn’t always mean that we are both going to go the same direction. Some will slide away but eventually they come back.

Just because that person wasn’t around for a certain amount of time did NOT mean that they were no longer in that friendship with me. Not at all.

On the other hand. I did read about how it can be dangerous to label our relationships. But I think that I will leave that for another blog post in the future as it was far deeper than just trying to develop this social structure.

So personally, I won’t be using the “BFF”. But then again, I am not going to turn my nose at people who do. It is all a matter of a person’s needs and whether or not they use the acronym, is a matter of preference and personal expression.

A great big thank you for those who gave encouragement in diving into this topic.

 
 
 
 
Comments
  1. Steve says:

    Just curious, where did you hear about the Hierarchy of Relationships, specifically the Cabinet, Peer, Friend, Acquaintance, and Stranger categories?

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