What We Are Reading
May 2021

Social Chemistry: Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection by Marissa King

Social Chemistry by Marissa King book cover

King, professor of Organizational Behavior at Yale, explores how our personal habits around networking impact our careers, ideas, health and happiness. This is not a “how to network book” and King never once warns us to “Never Eat Alone”. But she does explain how unintentional we are in the ways we meet people. Seating charts are stronger predictors of friendships than religion, age, or hobbies, while just two institutions (work and college) account for most of our relationships. King describes three basic types of natural networking tendencies: Expansionists have large networks with relatively weak links; Brokers excel at bringing disparate contacts from different social worlds together; and Conveners build narrower, but denser networks where friends are likely to be friends with each other. Each offers upsides and downsides depending on our goals. The book provides fascinating insights into how strong interpersonal connections form. Listening (or more accurately, “suspending judgement”), eye contact, follow-up questions – these are just some of the powerful relationship elixirs on display. All point to our most basic need: to understand and to be understood.

HIGHLIGHT(S): There are two kinds of ‘popularity’: status (visibility and influence) and likability. Likability is by far the more important. And it’s persistent - what made us likeable as children remains with us decades later. In fact, one large Swedish study found that the most likeable children turned into the most successful adults.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Social-Chemistry-Decoding-Patterns-Connection/dp/1524743801/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3R9RMXHIZZG0A&dchild=1&keywords=social+chemistry+marissa+king&qid=1613508630&sprefix=social+chem%2Caps%2C134&sr=8-1

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