36: How to Construct a Healthy Social Circle
Monday May 4, 2015

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“A healthy relationship will inspire you to be more of who you are, not require you to give up who you are.”   -Unknown

The Simple Sophisticate, episode #36

Recently news arrived in my life that while I have been consciously and unconsciously working toward for quite some time, I will admit I’m not sure it has entirely sunk in just yet. (As to what it is, I promise to share in the coming days and weeks.) And being the analytical person that I am, I wanted to see how it came about, or if nothing else, what aided into allowing for the event to bloom into fruition.

What I know for certain is that if an outcome that is sought involves other people making the decision, how we interact and with whom we interact with leading up to the outcome we seek is vitally imperative. In other words, the people we choose to welcome into our lives, how we interact with the people in our lives and who we release from our lives, plays a significant role in the contentment we feel and the overall quality of our lives: professional and personal.

So who should welcome and who should we usher to the door? That is precisely what we will discussing today.

Politely Show the Door to the Following People:

“People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world.” -Kim Culbertson

~Disrespectful Individuals

“You can’t force a person to show you respect, but you can refuse to be disrespected.” – Unknown

At first introduction, you may not be able to discern if they will be disrespectful, but quite quickly you will. It may be rather in what they don’t do, more so than based on what they actually do, so pay attention, and don’t make excuses for them. If someone continually is without appreciation for your position as a superior or the time and energy you have expended to them, let them go. If they are blatantly disrespectful with their actions or words, let them go.


“You should only aim to be stressed by situations and not by people.” -Unknown

There will be a variety of people in which you will experience together stressful situations: Purse strings being tightened at work, family situations that occur unexpectedly, or a travel itinerary that isn’t going as planned. Simply because you were stressed while you were with them doesn’t no mean they are “stressors” and should be let go from you life. Contrarily, if they were the cause of the stress, if they, simply with their presence instigate the stress such as contentious arguments, inappropriate behavior, reckless awareness of the effect on others, let them go.

~Two-Faced Talkers

Such individuals are quite lethal to our ability to trust people. Such people will tell you what is pleasing to hear to your face or in your presence, but when you are no where in audible reach, their commentary takes an about-face. Let these people go. Their behavior is a reflection of their need to please and their lack of a backbone to speak the truth even if it is uncomfortable.

~Pain Instigators

While most certainly, there will be times when our friends, spouses, colleagues, etc. hurt our feelings or over-step their bounds, this is not necessarily a reason to extricate them from our lives. So long as we have the courage to speak up and make clear our boundaries, each of these relationship can be repaired and in fact grow stronger. However, it is when a person in our lives has hurt us once, we respond and explain why we were hurt, and then they proceed to do it again, and perhaps again and again, that we must show them the door and release them from our lives.


When it comes to relationships, giving and taking is a balance that needs to be struck and understood between both parties. Each relationship will do this differently, but when someone is constantly taking from you: Whether asking favors, expecting money and not repaying, or enjoying the bounty of your connections without being appreciative, this person needs to be removed from your life. Why? For whatever reason, they either are ignorant to what they are doing and not away that they need to be more appreciative of what you are doing, or they expect it and will never change. Either way, you must speak up and protect yourself.

~Negative Nellies/Wet Blankets

I’ve combined two into one because while there are some slight differences, at their core is the weight of negativity which weighs down the receiver (you). Each morning we wake up with a finite amount of energy; some days we will have more than others based on how much sleep we had, what we ate and what we did the day before, but the key is to understand our energy is finite.

When we spend time with someone who only chooses to comment on the negative (complain, whine, etc), or can’t seem to find the good in the day, our hope, our positive energy quotient is slowly chipped away because we have to muster a bit more to stay upbeat or come up with a positive retort (or suppress the desire to do more). When we battle, we become drained whether it’s with ourselves or with others.

With regards to the Wet Blanket, such a person is can douse a spark of hope or excitement by saying nothing at all, by responding with a cynical comment or simply being apathetic to the reason you are so cheerful. Granted, this may happen unexpectedly from a friend or family member if they have other pressing matters on their mind, but if this is the modus operandi of someone close to you, its effects on you can be negative and gradually your ability to be hopeful and optimistic will become less accessible.

~Constant Competitors

A Constant Competitor feels the need to perpetually “one-up” anything that another shares. They, due to their own insecurities and seeking of validation, have to demonstrate that they are successful, happy or have had it much worse than you. Now, this doesn’t mean a friend can’t share a similar experience they had, but rather than recognizing a moment in which you want to be heard and celebrate, or heard and supported, they flip the tables and instead bring it back to themselves.

~Passive Aggressives

Passive Aggressives are often the most difficult to recognize, but they can gradually and harmfully affect your everyday life if you spend regular time with them. Someone who is unable to speak directly to the issue at hand and instead chooses to mope or  withhold affections or attention is trying to maintain power or intimidate. Such people are cowardly and weak by nature and this is the only way they know how to maintain whatever power they think they have.

Instead of confronting the issue, they bury it and brew which affects not only them negatively, but all of the relationships around them because it causes people to walk on eggshells for fear if they will explode or manipulative doing something behind the public eye.

The key, if you must work with them, is to confront them tactfully, but directly, and then move on. Thus they lose their power over you, and you are free of their draining effect.

~The Expired Relationship

I saved this one for last because, often relationships aren’t bad, they have just simply passed their expiration date. Whether it was a romantic relationship that was meant to help you grow or learn something, a colleague or boss that taught you helped you excel in your career or a friend who was your confidante, but now you are traveling separate paths, each individual we have a relationship with has the opportunity to enhance our lives, but each relationship isn’t meant to remain a part of our lives forever. Consider your childhood friends, your teachers from the past, your bosses from previous jobs. Many, I’m sure, were and are great people, but there is only so much emotional energy we have in any given day. To maintain any healthy relationship takes energy.

Upon ending or leaving such relationships, some just happen without a word said, but it’s understood. Others, like a boss or colleague, perhaps a thank you note, a goodbye gathering, etc. Each relationship will be different, but to expect more than a relationship can give is to ruin what its original purpose was. Honor it, and move on.

Now that we’ve talked about those who should no longer or ever be in our lives, we’ve made room for whom we should welcome into our personal and professional social circles. As with nearly every arena of our lives, it is not the amount of people we interact with and build relationships with, it is the quality, the type of people with whom we spend our precious hours of each day with.

What you will perhaps notice is that sometimes one person can fulfill more than one role in your life, and that is perfectly fine. Each of our social circles will be compiled differently. It will also evolve over time and will constantly be in a state of flux based on where we are, where we wish to go and what life tosses our way: good or bad. But without a doubt, the following people will add a component that will improve the contentment and fulfillment of your life.

As you are going through this list, we should each be considering how are we embodying one or more of these roles for the people in our lives. In other words, how are we contributing to the relationships we are involved in, rather than being a hindrance.

1. The Cheerleader

A cheerleader is just as it sounds. They are there to keep you going, to remind you of your strengths and to help you plow forward when you feel that the world has handed you too much. They are also there to celebrate with you when success comes your way. A cheerleader is not a Pollyanna who sugarcoats and ignores reality, but rather than being “The Realist”, which we will talk about later, they help you find your grit and provide the boosts of energy when you feel you have nothing left to give.

A Cheerleader is the person sending you a text just before you step up to the plate for that much sought after interview. A Cheerleader reminds you of how amazing you are before you go out on a date or are meeting someone new. A Cheerleader is also the person you talk to after each of these events occur, who listens and reminds you of the good, even if you may forget from time to time, and more importantly, is just as excited for you when all goes well.

2. The Mentor

We all need a mentor, whether we speak directly to them or simply observe them from afar. A person who embodies the qualities, has accomplished the success and lives their life in such a way that we wish to model our own, that is a mentor. Preferably, the mentor in your life will be someone you can confer with from time to time. To check in with, offer up your life and/or career questions and receive feedback. The difference between the feedback from a mentor and any other random person is that they have already been where you wish to go, so their credibility has been proven.

3. The Realist

Not to be confused with a cynic, the Realist in many ways is your conscience and your gut, but also someone who most definitely has all of the facts. This person is often someone older, with more experience, wisdom and has learned the lessons or has been in the business of life and has succeeded. The Realist will point out the options, the pros and the cons, the bottom line, and break down everything without sugar-coating a thing.

They will not try to squash your dreams, but rather give you all of the necessary facts, so that you go forward, should you choose, well-informed.

4. The Connector

The Connector is someone who opens doors for you that you cannot do for yourself no matter how amazing your resume. The saying I remember hearing as a young adult was, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” In part, this is true, but as I mentioned in my book, you can know all of the most amazing people in the world, but if you don’t have the skills and personality to do the job, it is not going to matter a lick who you know.

The Connector is sometimes also a mentor in that they see something in you and wish to help. Having been where you are or knowing they can help get where you wish to go, they gladly do so. The tricky part of these relationships is that the mentee needs to be aware of the priceless door-opening assistance they are receiving and be grateful as well as respectful.

5. The Giver

“Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you.” -Wayne Dyer

To give without expectation is a characteristic of a secure individual. Such a person doesn’t grease the wheels to see what they can receive in return. No. Rather the Giver simply gives because they see a need and wish to help, motivate, or express their love. The receiver undoubtedly should express appreciation, and shouldn’t take advantage. However, the Giver is intelligent, they aren’t people easily taken advantage of. They give because they can, want to and often see a need. When there is no need, they focus their energies elsewhere without contempt, but rather a sense of fulfillment.

Another piece of insight into the Giver, these are not people you can seek out. They typically will find you, unlike the other five relationships mentioned in today’s post.

6. The Motivator

Reminding you of all the possibilities life has to offer, that is what a Motivator brings into your everyday life. What a beautiful way to uplift your world. The Motivator may take on the role of a cheerleader from time to time, but their main ability is to bring the world and all of its beauty to your front step and remind you of all the possibilities, and even better, show you that you can and should be participating regularly. The Motivator believes in you, the Motivator loves life and is regularly reading and learning about it as they continue to become their best selves. The Motivator in some ways may be a mentor, but at their core it is  their energy that enlivens you and helps you become even more excited about living each day.

As was mentioned in the inaugural episode of The Simple Sophisticate, one of the eight pillars of living a simply luxurious life is to surround yourself with a healthy social circle, both in your professional and personal life. Much like a magnificent sculpture that is situated in a public square, initially to construct it will take ardent attention and discernment, but to maintain it will require consistent attention and from time to time, restorations as you will be growing, evolving and changing along the way as well.

Do not feel guilt-ridden for letting certain people out of your life. Be grateful for the time you had. If it was a positive experience, you now have beautiful memories, and if it was a negative experience, you have lessons to learn from. As social beings, learning how to navigate our lives as we interact with others is a constant dance. But with conscious attention and a willingness to remember we need to be positive contributors in others’ lives just as much as we need positive influences in our own lives, the overall quality of our lives will improve, success will occur and all that we have to be grateful for will grow exponentially.


~Why Not . . . Create A Healthy Social Circle?

~A Very Important Detail

~7 Components of Strong, Healthy Relationships

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9 thoughts on “36: How to Construct a Healthy Social Circle

  1. I never thought about all of these components of a social circle! It’s interesting to see them all “laid out” and defined. My greatest challenge is to let things go or allow comments to roll off my back. Easier said than done! When we are able to put comments or people’s actions or words in perspective it helps us to better navigate through life. Excellent article!

  2. Love your podcasts! I’ve discovered your website last week and I am really eager to read everything! You have an argentine follower here 🙂 Cariños!

  3. I don’t usually make it to the ned of a long blog post, but I read yours to the end. Very thoughtful and so true. The quote about respect has struck a chord with me, as it should anyone, when they feel that they have not been respected for what they have to offer. Take it elsewhere, is good advice!

  4. “People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world.” -Kim Culbertson

    What a poignant quote. It was also the perfect way to begin this post. I have keenly felt the loneliness of being surrounded by the wrong people. Consequently I am learning to enjoy being alone, so I can be available to the right people. Your posts and gentle admonishments are a tremendous encouragement in that regard.

  5. Thank you for this post, Shannon. I am enjoying reading your book and the section about relationships (mostly about friends). It is lovely advice you give and I’m still working my way through this, but as I get older, I recognize that we do need people who uplift and encourage us.

  6. I only found your website yesterday. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for until I found it. In 24hrs it has already changed me and the way I look at things. Your words inspire me to live the live I want. To be the person I want to be. Thank-you.

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