The Importance of Weak Ties

As I write this post, we are currently in July of 2021. Compared to where we were a year ago regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, I think it is safe to say we have come a long way. Vaccines have been rolling out, the public has been re-opening, and masks are no longer required in many spaces.

As we remain vigilant as to the latest public health news and advice from the experts, many people are also returning to an in-person work setting. I have seen TikTok videos of people DREADING going back to work and having to engage in “water cooler” chat again, while others simply cannot wait to go back to the office. All of this has me thinking about the importance of weak ties.

What are weak ties? Dr. Meg Jay, the author of The Defining Decade, defines weak ties as:

people we have met, or are connected to somehow, but do not currently know well. Weak ties are also our former employers or professors and other associations not promoted to close friends … Weak ties give us access to something fresh … like bridges you cannot see all the way across, so there is no telling where they might lead.

(You can also check out my review of her book here)

Dr. Jay goes to explain how the people who are “weak ties” in your life can actually be the most useful for professional networking purposes. Another article my cousin told me about stressed the importance of weak ties for our emotional well-being. I could not help but think how true this is. These simple and perhaps transient connections are so crucial for opening avenues for serendipity in our everyday lives and fostering a sense of fulfillment. Whether I am chatting in the break room with my coworkers about the mediocre cafeteria pizza, listening to my hairdresser give advice to a guy going on a date tomorrow, or hearing my eyebrow threading aunty tell me about why she decided to come to America from Nepal, these interactions create a sense of community and belonging for us.

I am definitely grateful for these seemingly small aspects of our everyday lives. Although counterintuitive, these weak ties can be extremely powerful. As we slowly and carefully welcome more in-person social interactions and reconnect with close friends and family, I also wonder at the possibilities of new connections that we may form. To me, that potential is really beautiful.

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