Know Thyself

When I went solo with my career in July of 2016, I was very clear about who was supporting me and who was not. It’s easier to know who your fans are when you spend a lot of time thinking about who you are and what makes you different. I had for years, worked with a great direct supervisor who understood my mentality as a worker and respected my work style. It served me well as I moved up the ranks in the department, garnered respect from my peers and team mates, and allowed my work connections to be deep and mutually beneficial.

image of a confident Black woman looking at the camera in stylish black and white garb as depicted on Marie Deveaux, career coaching site about maintaining relationships that serve who you are. Photo by Nsey Benajah on UnsplashWhen I left the organization after being transferred to a manager who was less adept at emotional intelligence and management best practice, I had no qualms about my strengths and abilities and it was very clear to me whom I work well with, who were my advocates and who was holding me back from being my best self.

Beefing Up & Trimming Down Connections

This knowledge of self and my ways of working translated immediately into how I ran my business and who I wanted to surround myself with. I beefed up my LinkedIn connections (a project I had been working on for over a year) and conversely started to trim down my Facebook list.

LinkedIn is a bit different than Facebook in that people sometimes request a link without having a personal connection. I still accept those opportunities and then immediately follow up with a message on how I can help or support their efforts. What I’m looking for is someone who is just as eager to support my endeavors. Absent of that initiative (lets’ jump on the phone, grab a coffee) I have no qualms about unLinking ASAP. It’s pretty easy to tell who is out making a sales calls versus those who want to forge relationships. It’s easy to drop dead weight.

Granted, after being at a high growth org for 4 years, there were hundreds of colleagues who were not my friends but who suddenly were requesting to stay connected on social media. I considered all of them carefully debating whether motives were authentic or not. And then there were the “friends” who had been lying dormant in my network for so long, I had to consider what they were bringing to my life in the first place. Why were we still connected?

Is there a reason we aren’t friends anymore?

We all know and have “friends ” like this. The ones maybe we were tight with in middle school or high school but have since lost touch with or the acquaintances we met at a party one time, or the former boyfriend/girlfriend of a close friend who now are just awkwardly hanging out on our timeline. I cleaned house of those types. And I did so pretty quickly after my departure from employee life.

That was over a year ago. But this week, one of those “unfriended” folks showed up in my messenger asking “Is there a reason we aren’t friends anymore?'” I had to slow down and bite my tongue for fear I would respond with “The fact it’s taken you a year to realize we aren’t connected is Exhibit A” But instead I paused to consider how she may be viewing this.

Friendship Parameters


to say that a friendship is based on the sharing of physical space at one point in time is to be very myopic

Perhaps I wasn’t clear in what I needed from her as a friend. I had come to her in the years prior asking for support of my business endeavors, and she was resolute in not helping. She couldn’t refer me to anyone . . . not even if that meant we could spend more time together and strengthen our relationship in new ways. Are lives are also starkly different. I have kids, she doesn’t. She’s into renaissance fairs, I am not. She hasn’t worked in years, I hold down multiple endeavors at all times. The only thing we have in common is attending the same high school. And to say that a friendship is based on the sharing of physical space at one point in time is to be very myopic in thinking about relationship.

Don’t let someone else hold you back from the growth you have coming to you.

I am not advocating using people, but rather considering what relationships serve you. No one succeeds in life on their own. If someone isn’t rooting for your success, why do you remain connected to them? Those bonds hold power and you can choose which ones empower and which ones drain and then act accordingly.

I started this year focused on relationship. It was my single word to resolutely stick by versus picking a lofty life change for the year. And I must say as 2017 comes to a close it has served me well. Image of three women friends looking relaxed and happy as featured in mariedeveaux.com career coach website about healthy relationships. Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

What impact are my actions on this relationship?

Who do I want to be in relationship with?

How are others paying deference or disrespect to our connection?

How am I building positive relationships with my clients, other business owners and coaches?

I had been out of relationship with (we’ll call her Barb) for years. The quality of the relationship was poor. I was no longer interested in investing in it or making it grow. I was ready to sever (or confirm severing) that connection. After 2 decades, if I can’t rely on you for a favor, or emotional support is that really a friend worth pursuing? It was definitely more draining than empowering to maintain the bond. When a relationship is a net negative, you have to move on. Put yourself first.

*This of course is in direct contrast to relationships where we could not speak for years and at any point in time I could still expect support for my latest and greatest_____. That’s a true friend. Keep those connections and hold them dear.

The Response

So I told her, ‘We have been growing apart for years. I calibrated my Facebook settings to sweep out dormant friendships from time to time. You were one of the connections it severed. I’m here if you want to talk about it’. In real life, if we lived in the same geography this would have happened naturally. We would have stopped calling each other, inviting each other to life events. We would have drifted apart and numbers and addresses would have changed without either becoming the wiser. People outgrow each other, especially without consistent effort. It’s a thing and it’s OK. Don’t let someone else hold you back from the growth you have coming to you. Even if that means an awkward text is in your future.

What do you think? Is it worth it to keep connected to people who don’t help you reach your goals? How would you have responded to Barb? Have you had to explain a severed connection on social media? How did it go?

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