I Feel So Used (and You Should Too)

 

I Admit It

One of the first things I think when I meet someone is ‘How will this person be useful to me?’

It’s not really a conscious thing – it’s more one of those reflexive tendencies that everyone has but only a few overanalyzers take the time to acknowledge. But it’s definitely happening, and this initial impression can have a drastic impact on what kind of relationship you will form with someone new.

I understand it sounds really cold to just flat-out say ‘I’m using you and you’re using me,’ so let me clarify. While it’s true that we may consider personal gain first, all healthy relationships will involve a balance of benefit for everyone involved. Each and every participant will be benefiting about the same, and therefore the ‘greediness’ will in fact allow for balance, rather than creating a benefit deficit for any one person.

Consider This

I walk into a gallery opening and strike up a conversation with a well-dressed 40-something from Spain. We discuss the art on the walls, his business and my business, exchange cards and I introduce him to someone else I know who’s also at the gallery.

What just happened? On the surface it was just another interaction at a networking event; it happens every day in every city in the world and few people think twice about it. But if you DO take a second to think twice and you’ll realize that I started the conversation with this particular gentleman because I was looking to establish a familiar group of friends at this gallery for this night (which makes it easier to network, as most people at events full of strangers are just looking for a group to take them in). He may have spoken to me for the same reason, or he may have spoken to me because he works in the broadcast industry and I’m in his demographic (which provides him with direct feedback from a potential viewer!).

In discussing the art I may be able to tell him about the influences of the painter (thanks to my Art History minor in college) and he may be able to tell me all about his hometown in Spain (which is information a travel-curious person like myself craves). By asking him about his business, I was trying to learn about a trade different from my own (which is incredibly valuable for a generalist like myself) while at the same time finding out if he needed my services. In discussing his and my businesses, the Spaniard was gaining insight into what kind of industries and methods of communication are ‘in’ for a demographic he needs to keep up with, while simultaneously adding another potential contractor to his call list in case his studio needs someone to create some motion graphics for their next project.

To top it off, by introducing the Spaniard to another friend at the gallery I have gained points in the eyes of both people, while they have both gained access to new contacts and resources handpicked for them by a person who already knows something about what they are looking for. We’re all making use of each other for our own purposes, but everyone is gaining equally.

And this is the main difference between being a good networker or friend or half of a couple and being just so-so at it. Being socially talented means you are able to recognize the exchange of value and make sure that others are compensated when they give of themselves for your gain.

In Other Words…

If you want to have an ample supply of people to use, be as useful as possible.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds! It’s actually incredibly tricky, because when you exchange social value, you’re not trading dollars for dollars. In fact, every single person is using a thousand different kinds of currency, and sometimes a few bills of each kind are used in a single relationship.

Also Consider This

When I’m in a relationship I might use my partner as a networking wingman, sounding board for new ideas, accomplice for ridiculous schemes, professional contact and muse. She, on the other hand, might find more value in me as an emotional support system, comrade-at-arms for obscure causes, mentor (or mentee), productivity taskmaster and taxi driver (if she doesn’t have transportation and I do).

Both of us would have very different needs, but so long as they’re all being fulfilled the relationship should remain healthy because the balance has been maintained.

Bad Relationships
Most of us are familiar with what happens when this balance gets out of whack. One person or the other starts to feel used or like they are investing more in the relationship than the other. Feelings may be hurt, bonds may be broken, and the relationship itself could cease to exist (or, even worse, mutate into something hateful rather than useful). This should be avoided at all costs, and if you feel that any relationship is starting to go down this road it’s time to figure out how balance can be reestablished.

If the only use you can derive from someone else is the comfort of their presence, it may be time to transform the relationship into a simple friendship, rather than getting married or starting a business together. Be aware of the balance in existing relationships, and make an effort to create more effective and mutually beneficial relationships with everyone you meet and you’ll see immediate results; it will get easier and easier to keep up with the complex social dynamics of any interaction.

Also: take the time to be more useful and you’ll find that it becomes easier to identify the people in your life who are really valuable and those who are just along for the ride.

48 comments

  1. “Both of us would have very different needs, but so long as they’re all being fulfilled the relationship should remain healthy because the balance has been maintained.”

    Such a tricky balance to establish, especially if that perspective isn’t being openly discussed. Would that we all could be at a place to comfortably say, “I am not getting the value from you that I used to in our relationship. What happened?”

    Phrasing it like that may sound harsh, but I can think of several situations that hearing it from or saying it to someone I’m involved with, might have saved a dying relationship – at least the friendship side of things. It would have been so refreshing to hear how I may have been misreading my place in the relationship. We don’t often know what we’re offering that the other person values and may stop focusing on contributing that without thinking.

    I hope you continue to find me useful. I certainly plan to continue to use you :)

  2. “Both of us would have very different needs, but so long as they’re all being fulfilled the relationship should remain healthy because the balance has been maintained.”

    Such a tricky balance to establish, especially if that perspective isn’t being openly discussed. Would that we all could be at a place to comfortably say, “I am not getting the value from you that I used to in our relationship. What happened?”

    Phrasing it like that may sound harsh, but I can think of several situations that hearing it from or saying it to someone I’m involved with, might have saved a dying relationship – at least the friendship side of things. It would have been so refreshing to hear how I may have been misreading my place in the relationship. We don’t often know what we’re offering that the other person values and may stop focusing on contributing that without thinking.

    I hope you continue to find me useful. I certainly plan to continue to use you :)

  3. Yeah totally agree.
    Every interaction and relationship is a constant value trade off.
    Social value is a difficult concept but mastery can lead to rewards unlike anything else.

    It’s not what you know it’s who

  4. Yeah totally agree.
    Every interaction and relationship is a constant value trade off.
    Social value is a difficult concept but mastery can lead to rewards unlike anything else.

    It’s not what you know it’s who

  5. “If you want to have an ample supply of people to use, be as useful as possible.”

    Making yourself valuable is a fantastic way to attract valuable people to you. With that, you must constantly display and develop your value so that others can recognize it.

  6. “If you want to have an ample supply of people to use, be as useful as possible.”

    Making yourself valuable is a fantastic way to attract valuable people to you. With that, you must constantly display and develop your value so that others can recognize it.

  7. Man Colin, you always seem to have the balls to say everything that everyone else is thinking. This is true, and we all do it from time to time.

    However your advice of being as useful as possible is really important to keep in mind. By actually providing value to the people you are using, they will use you in return, but in many cases is that such a bad thing? Chances are it will only open you up to more opportunities.

  8. Man Colin, you always seem to have the balls to say everything that everyone else is thinking. This is true, and we all do it from time to time.

    However your advice of being as useful as possible is really important to keep in mind. By actually providing value to the people you are using, they will use you in return, but in many cases is that such a bad thing? Chances are it will only open you up to more opportunities.

  9. What you wrote about increasing your usefulness to weed out those who are just along for the ride is really smart. I have never really thought of this. It’s great to find those who are willing to keep up. Nice post man!

  10. What you wrote about increasing your usefulness to weed out those who are just along for the ride is really smart. I have never really thought of this. It’s great to find those who are willing to keep up. Nice post man!

  11. Hey Colin!

    Very interesting perspective. It’s true, I do the same. Mostly as a reflex, just like I decide if a girl is hot or not within the first 2 seconds I see her.

    I have actually just finished a post that Im going to put up next week about giving and taking value. The best way to make friends and connections like you say is by giving value and being as useful as possible without expecting anything in return. People appreciate this and automatically return the favor, sometimes much bigger than what you did for them!

    Great post: )

  12. Hey Colin!

    Very interesting perspective. It’s true, I do the same. Mostly as a reflex, just like I decide if a girl is hot or not within the first 2 seconds I see her.

    I have actually just finished a post that Im going to put up next week about giving and taking value. The best way to make friends and connections like you say is by giving value and being as useful as possible without expecting anything in return. People appreciate this and automatically return the favor, sometimes much bigger than what you did for them!

    Great post: )

  13. Reminds me a bit of Steven Covey who talked about having an “emotional bank account” with people. In other words, each time you do something positive for a person you deposit into that bank account. Then, someday when you need something or if you screw up in some way your relationship is ok because you have a lot deposited and the person doesn’t leave feeling used. I find this a lot – that I’m willing to go to the ends of the earth for people who have shown they’d do the same for me. If not – I do end up feeling used.

  14. Reminds me a bit of Steven Covey who talked about having an “emotional bank account” with people. In other words, each time you do something positive for a person you deposit into that bank account. Then, someday when you need something or if you screw up in some way your relationship is ok because you have a lot deposited and the person doesn’t leave feeling used. I find this a lot – that I’m willing to go to the ends of the earth for people who have shown they’d do the same for me. If not – I do end up feeling used.

  15. This is something I’ve always been interested in. I started noticing a few years ago which people I was really, really drawn to. They all had one thing in common: they were constantly giving (or being useful as you say).

    Another cool thing I’ve learned about relationships: If you give something to someone, or do something nice for them, WITHOUT explicitly saying so, they’ll like you more and be more willing to reciprocate later.

    The key is to not draw a lot of attention to the favor, otherwise they’ll feel like you’re being a dick or feel bad about themselves. Ex. when your roommate does all the dishes and writes a passive aggressive note telling you about it.

  16. This is something I’ve always been interested in. I started noticing a few years ago which people I was really, really drawn to. They all had one thing in common: they were constantly giving (or being useful as you say).

    Another cool thing I’ve learned about relationships: If you give something to someone, or do something nice for them, WITHOUT explicitly saying so, they’ll like you more and be more willing to reciprocate later.

    The key is to not draw a lot of attention to the favor, otherwise they’ll feel like you’re being a dick or feel bad about themselves. Ex. when your roommate does all the dishes and writes a passive aggressive note telling you about it.

  17. You’re pulling back the curtains a bit with this one :-)

    Though people like to claim otherwise, every action any of us takes is a selfish act. Obviously there are different levels of selfishness. Even when we want nothing in return and do something just because it “is the right thing to do”, it is to benefit us in some way. Whether it makes us feel better about ourselves, or impresses someone, it is all for our own needs.

    Like Johnathan said above, this is a fantastic way to be:

    “If you want to have an ample supply of people to use, be as useful as possible.”

  18. You’re pulling back the curtains a bit with this one :-)

    Though people like to claim otherwise, every action any of us takes is a selfish act. Obviously there are different levels of selfishness. Even when we want nothing in return and do something just because it “is the right thing to do”, it is to benefit us in some way. Whether it makes us feel better about ourselves, or impresses someone, it is all for our own needs.

    Like Johnathan said above, this is a fantastic way to be:

    “If you want to have an ample supply of people to use, be as useful as possible.”

  19. Hi Colon,

    I just discovered your blog and I love it!

    On using and being used- it all comes down to sharing and giving. The more you can give and share the happier you will be. This is true in relationships, in business, and everything else. Make what you get back secondary because it is.

  20. Hi Colon,

    I just discovered your blog and I love it!

    On using and being used- it all comes down to sharing and giving. The more you can give and share the happier you will be. This is true in relationships, in business, and everything else. Make what you get back secondary because it is.

  21. I’m using you right now.

    As I learn more about this lifestyle design thing, I feel that you’re probably the closest in age (not that it matters), but it’s always good to know there’s someone “super young” achieving what you’re striving for.

    You said that that asking someone about “what they do” wasn’t really a conscious thing, and I completely believe that. Before I moved to DC, I was in college at the University of Tennessee, and I don’t remember having any desire to know what anyone did. I just assumed they were in college, and my question of choice tended to be, “What’s your major?” I guess in a more adult world, it’s going to shift a bit. Having traveled in the U.S. for personal reasons and business, I’ve found that D.C. is notorious for the “what do you do” question. I feel that individuals will size someone up within 10 seconds and decide whether or not they want to continue the conversation. In an effort to not conform, I make a conscious effort to not ask the question. It’s actually tough.

    I don’t think it’s cold, but at least you admit. In a land full of lawyers, politicians, and consultants, it’s commonplace and I feel as though those professionals rely on networking. So, I guess it’s part of the game?

    As for relationships, I was told that I had “too much life,” and I equated that with, “You’re fun. I’m boring.” I can’t really date someone who doesn’t contribute to the relationship. Too many people are stagnant, and I don’t have time for that. I love people, yes. But when it comes to me sacrificing time when I could be volunteeering or with friends, you gotta be “off the chain.” It’s as easy as that.

    Great post, dude! Keep it up!

  22. I’m using you right now.

    As I learn more about this lifestyle design thing, I feel that you’re probably the closest in age (not that it matters), but it’s always good to know there’s someone “super young” achieving what you’re striving for.

    You said that that asking someone about “what they do” wasn’t really a conscious thing, and I completely believe that. Before I moved to DC, I was in college at the University of Tennessee, and I don’t remember having any desire to know what anyone did. I just assumed they were in college, and my question of choice tended to be, “What’s your major?” I guess in a more adult world, it’s going to shift a bit. Having traveled in the U.S. for personal reasons and business, I’ve found that D.C. is notorious for the “what do you do” question. I feel that individuals will size someone up within 10 seconds and decide whether or not they want to continue the conversation. In an effort to not conform, I make a conscious effort to not ask the question. It’s actually tough.

    I don’t think it’s cold, but at least you admit. In a land full of lawyers, politicians, and consultants, it’s commonplace and I feel as though those professionals rely on networking. So, I guess it’s part of the game?

    As for relationships, I was told that I had “too much life,” and I equated that with, “You’re fun. I’m boring.” I can’t really date someone who doesn’t contribute to the relationship. Too many people are stagnant, and I don’t have time for that. I love people, yes. But when it comes to me sacrificing time when I could be volunteeering or with friends, you gotta be “off the chain.” It’s as easy as that.

    Great post, dude! Keep it up!

  23. I can’t believe you thought that about me. I feel so… used?

    Ha.

    I agree with Sean, you seem to have the guts to say what a lot of people think. Everyone does this whether they are conscious of it or not. And being used isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We all have skills and knowledge that we can share and if we are also getting what we need in return then it is a beautiful thing.

  24. I can’t believe you thought that about me. I feel so… used?

    Ha.

    I agree with Sean, you seem to have the guts to say what a lot of people think. Everyone does this whether they are conscious of it or not. And being used isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We all have skills and knowledge that we can share and if we are also getting what we need in return then it is a beautiful thing.

  25. Great article. I have this philosophy too but your version is a little more fleshed out. When I meet someone new I immediately attempt to establish what I can learn from them, how interesting they are, and whether they are someone whom spending time with would increase my own positivity or broaden my mind.

    I used to hang around with any old morons but I find focusing on remarkable people improves my quality of life. “You are your peer group”.

    Cultivating social value in yourself is mainly a matter of accumulating life experience (how old you are, where you’ve traveled to, who your friends are, which books you have read, your skills and talents) combined with basic social skills (how to start interesting conversations with strangers, social energy/charisma).

  26. Great article. I have this philosophy too but your version is a little more fleshed out. When I meet someone new I immediately attempt to establish what I can learn from them, how interesting they are, and whether they are someone whom spending time with would increase my own positivity or broaden my mind.

    I used to hang around with any old morons but I find focusing on remarkable people improves my quality of life. “You are your peer group”.

    Cultivating social value in yourself is mainly a matter of accumulating life experience (how old you are, where you’ve traveled to, who your friends are, which books you have read, your skills and talents) combined with basic social skills (how to start interesting conversations with strangers, social energy/charisma).

  27. Hi Colin, I learned about your project via a Google alert I have for “networking event” and had to comment to say I love your project and this post.

    You’ve insightfully nailed what it takes most professionals 10+ years to learn. I’m no doubt going to spend a good part of the day crafting my own blog post about your blog post in my mind. Hopefully, I’ll have time to write and post it tomorrow. I’ll send it to you when I do.

    One thing I definitely want to write about is your reference to what I typically refer to as “social capital.” I like “social value” as well and I will also refer to your “wingman” reference, esp since I just dedicated my new book (about networking) to my husband, “my favorite wingman.”

    I can also offer that it’s important to disconnect from the unproductive or overly opportunistic and one-sided networking relationships you’ll unfortunately come across. And, for the latter, often, just by association, you could attract more unwelcome attention or unwanted perceptions. As Sebastian said, “You are your peer group.”

    Also, don’t spend any more time on connections you make when you recognize that there’s a suspicious or questionable agenda, or they simply aren’t reciprocating or paying it forward. Just move on, and whatever you do, don’t take it personally. Today’s economy has many people coming from a slightly desperate position, and it’s best to just forgive their tactics and practice empathy when you can, but you don’t need to let others take advantage of you. Trust your gut and move on.

    Best of luck with your project, and if you make your way to Seattle, please be sure to let me know!

  28. Hi Colin, I learned about your project via a Google alert I have for “networking event” and had to comment to say I love your project and this post.

    You’ve insightfully nailed what it takes most professionals 10+ years to learn. I’m no doubt going to spend a good part of the day crafting my own blog post about your blog post in my mind. Hopefully, I’ll have time to write and post it tomorrow. I’ll send it to you when I do.

    One thing I definitely want to write about is your reference to what I typically refer to as “social capital.” I like “social value” as well and I will also refer to your “wingman” reference, esp since I just dedicated my new book (about networking) to my husband, “my favorite wingman.”

    I can also offer that it’s important to disconnect from the unproductive or overly opportunistic and one-sided networking relationships you’ll unfortunately come across. And, for the latter, often, just by association, you could attract more unwelcome attention or unwanted perceptions. As Sebastian said, “You are your peer group.”

    Also, don’t spend any more time on connections you make when you recognize that there’s a suspicious or questionable agenda, or they simply aren’t reciprocating or paying it forward. Just move on, and whatever you do, don’t take it personally. Today’s economy has many people coming from a slightly desperate position, and it’s best to just forgive their tactics and practice empathy when you can, but you don’t need to let others take advantage of you. Trust your gut and move on.

    Best of luck with your project, and if you make your way to Seattle, please be sure to let me know!

  29. Colin! Nice post as usual. There are definitely trade offs, advantages, business like tactics in every relationship. I used to automatically thing the same thing when I met someone….how can they benefit me or how am i getting screwed here. The more I wander into my travels the more I shed that analysis. When you look at someone as a blank slate is when you really see who they are. With out all the filters. I also started to feel very selfish by thinking…”what can this person do, or offer me, and what am I giving them in return.” Yes in a perfect world all would be equal, but sometimes you just have to let things exist and be.

    You don’t want to get stepped on and used, or use other people. Definitely a fine balance. great thoughts

  30. Colin! Nice post as usual. There are definitely trade offs, advantages, business like tactics in every relationship. I used to automatically thing the same thing when I met someone….how can they benefit me or how am i getting screwed here. The more I wander into my travels the more I shed that analysis. When you look at someone as a blank slate is when you really see who they are. With out all the filters. I also started to feel very selfish by thinking…”what can this person do, or offer me, and what am I giving them in return.” Yes in a perfect world all would be equal, but sometimes you just have to let things exist and be.

    You don’t want to get stepped on and used, or use other people. Definitely a fine balance. great thoughts

  31. I believe that every social interaction is really a transaction. We exchange something of value for something else of value. Sometimes we get cheated and sometimes we get a great deal.

    Before money was invented, a lot of these transactions were bartered. After money came, we could have a “store of value” for those interactions.

    In pre-consumer societies there wasn’t much to buy, so the transactions were not so money driven. In our current hyper-consumerism, everybody has something to sell. The only thing more valuable then money is attention.

  32. I believe that every social interaction is really a transaction. We exchange something of value for something else of value. Sometimes we get cheated and sometimes we get a great deal.

    Before money was invented, a lot of these transactions were bartered. After money came, we could have a “store of value” for those interactions.

    In pre-consumer societies there wasn’t much to buy, so the transactions were not so money driven. In our current hyper-consumerism, everybody has something to sell. The only thing more valuable then money is attention.

  33. @kristin: Haha, I’m sure we’ll continue to have lots of uses for each other, even from different continents!

    @Vinay: Sounds like you understand completely! Mastery is definitely something to strive for.

    @Jonathan: Yup, same idea as ‘paying it forward’ or ‘karma,’ if you prefer. I find that just by making myself available to help people out when they need me, I usually have the same option when I need something.

    @Sean: Thanks Sean! Part of why I started this blog was to discuss the tricky stuff people don’t usually like to discuss, so I’m glad that’s coming across! I definitely don’t think everyone using each other is bad…how could it be? Society is based on that very premise (though I suppose it’s also based on never mentioning it…oops!).

    @Nate: Kind of like applying the 80/20 Principle to your friendships!

    @Diggy: Looking forward to your post!

    @Carmen: Ah, I like that. ‘Emotional bank account.’ Definitely has a nice ring to it, and it describes the same concept wonderfully!

    @Derek: Yeah, very good point. If you bring up what wonderful things you’re always doing for people, expecting to be compensated in return, you’re kind of missing the whole point of this kind of exchange and kind of being a dick rather than a generous person. Something to be careful of, for sure.

    @James: Totally. I feel like just being a good person pays dividends like nothing else. I’ve never understood people who try to get ahead by screwing others over…so much easier (and more sustainable) to just be helpful and friendly and get the same back.

    @Don: Happy to have you as a reader, Don! Very good point, too. What you get back should be a secondary concern. Sure, you can be pretty sure you’ll get what you need when you need it, but you should focus FIRST on helping others out. You can’t pull out of the bank account without depositing anything.

    @Stephen: Happy to be used, Stephen! Thanks for sharing, too – you bring up some really good points, including the fact that most politicians, lawyers, etc don’t really bring this kind of thing up. I really think it’s a shame that the very people who are supposed to be professional communicators spend so much time concealing and obscuring the truth. If we could all just talk about this stuff, I think we’d be a whole lot better off (but I supposed they’re trying to take more than they’re giving back and that’s why they don’t want people to see what’s going on too clearly).

    @Jonny: Haha, well we’ve already broken up (amicably), so I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble :) I’m pretty sure she would take that title as a compliment in any case…we took networking pretty seriously!

    @Mary: Totally. If we all keep using each other (and keeping the relationships as balanced as possible) we’ll all be better off. No man is an island, as they say, and we need a lot of bridges if we’re going to solve all the problems that need solving.

    @Sebastian: It’s true, each person you spend time with is an investment, and like any investment you should make sure that time is spent wisely and will result in a return!

    @Sandy: Hey Sandy! Glad to hear my SEO is still pulling its own weight! Can’t wait to see your blog post, and I would love to check out your book. Is it out now? If you’re in Seattle you should meet up with Kristin, the first person that commented on this post! She just moved there a few months ago.

    @Amber: Good point. It can be a little tedious to ALWAYS filter, and in a lot of cases you don’t really need anything from anyone and they don’t need anything from you (except for mutual companionship, which doesn’t take a lot of analysis to figure out). And unbalanced relationships will work themselves out, usually, so it’s not necessarily something you have to worry about overmuch.

    @John: Insightful as always, John! I wonder what will be the next currency after attention?

  34. @kristin: Haha, I’m sure we’ll continue to have lots of uses for each other, even from different continents!

    @Vinay: Sounds like you understand completely! Mastery is definitely something to strive for.

    @Jonathan: Yup, same idea as ‘paying it forward’ or ‘karma,’ if you prefer. I find that just by making myself available to help people out when they need me, I usually have the same option when I need something.

    @Sean: Thanks Sean! Part of why I started this blog was to discuss the tricky stuff people don’t usually like to discuss, so I’m glad that’s coming across! I definitely don’t think everyone using each other is bad…how could it be? Society is based on that very premise (though I suppose it’s also based on never mentioning it…oops!).

    @Nate: Kind of like applying the 80/20 Principle to your friendships!

    @Diggy: Looking forward to your post!

    @Carmen: Ah, I like that. ‘Emotional bank account.’ Definitely has a nice ring to it, and it describes the same concept wonderfully!

    @Derek: Yeah, very good point. If you bring up what wonderful things you’re always doing for people, expecting to be compensated in return, you’re kind of missing the whole point of this kind of exchange and kind of being a dick rather than a generous person. Something to be careful of, for sure.

    @James: Totally. I feel like just being a good person pays dividends like nothing else. I’ve never understood people who try to get ahead by screwing others over…so much easier (and more sustainable) to just be helpful and friendly and get the same back.

    @Don: Happy to have you as a reader, Don! Very good point, too. What you get back should be a secondary concern. Sure, you can be pretty sure you’ll get what you need when you need it, but you should focus FIRST on helping others out. You can’t pull out of the bank account without depositing anything.

    @Stephen: Happy to be used, Stephen! Thanks for sharing, too – you bring up some really good points, including the fact that most politicians, lawyers, etc don’t really bring this kind of thing up. I really think it’s a shame that the very people who are supposed to be professional communicators spend so much time concealing and obscuring the truth. If we could all just talk about this stuff, I think we’d be a whole lot better off (but I supposed they’re trying to take more than they’re giving back and that’s why they don’t want people to see what’s going on too clearly).

    @Jonny: Haha, well we’ve already broken up (amicably), so I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble :) I’m pretty sure she would take that title as a compliment in any case…we took networking pretty seriously!

    @Mary: Totally. If we all keep using each other (and keeping the relationships as balanced as possible) we’ll all be better off. No man is an island, as they say, and we need a lot of bridges if we’re going to solve all the problems that need solving.

    @Sebastian: It’s true, each person you spend time with is an investment, and like any investment you should make sure that time is spent wisely and will result in a return!

    @Sandy: Hey Sandy! Glad to hear my SEO is still pulling its own weight! Can’t wait to see your blog post, and I would love to check out your book. Is it out now? If you’re in Seattle you should meet up with Kristin, the first person that commented on this post! She just moved there a few months ago.

    @Amber: Good point. It can be a little tedious to ALWAYS filter, and in a lot of cases you don’t really need anything from anyone and they don’t need anything from you (except for mutual companionship, which doesn’t take a lot of analysis to figure out). And unbalanced relationships will work themselves out, usually, so it’s not necessarily something you have to worry about overmuch.

    @John: Insightful as always, John! I wonder what will be the next currency after attention?

  35. Yes, telling it like it is, amen to that buddy.

    I was having a talk with Ryan Knapp the other day about this topic exactly. Every relationship is a give and take, and the interesting part, is that when the feelings are reciprocate, when someone admires the other one more, or when they give more, the relationship falls apart, it’s either a boring one, or a conflicting one.

    Being clear about how we can help each other is the smart way to go.

  36. Yes, telling it like it is, amen to that buddy.

    I was having a talk with Ryan Knapp the other day about this topic exactly. Every relationship is a give and take, and the interesting part, is that when the feelings are reciprocate, when someone admires the other one more, or when they give more, the relationship falls apart, it’s either a boring one, or a conflicting one.

    Being clear about how we can help each other is the smart way to go.

  37. Pingback: Relationship Balance — OwlSparks | Carlos Miceli

  38. Colin,

    I thought this was spot on…thanks for revealing another part of life people don’t like to think about. The subtleties change whether friends or business contact, or somewhere in between…thats the trick…the balancing act and emotional involvement.

  39. Colin,

    I thought this was spot on…thanks for revealing another part of life people don’t like to think about. The subtleties change whether friends or business contact, or somewhere in between…thats the trick…the balancing act and emotional involvement.

  40. Pingback: Digital Nomad Blog Carnival | JetSetCitizen.com

  41. I will admit it right now – I am using you for free e-books!

    I am using you for many things actually, I aspire to be independant like you and become more productive in my lifestyle.

  42. I will admit it right now – I am using you for free e-books!

    I am using you for many things actually, I aspire to be independant like you and become more productive in my lifestyle.

  43. Being used means you’re useful.My grandmother shared this wisdom with me when I was 17 and heartbroken, “People come in and out of your life. We are all just using each other.” Ouch. I hated hearing that. And, the sentiment by which she shared her thoughts really messed with me for a long while. In my mind, I fought back. Of course that wasn’t true!Through life experience, I realized that we do look for what we can get out of each other. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Relationships (of any kind) are stagnated and even ruined when that’s all you can see. I think “mutual using” is about finding a fit. And finding that fit is easy if you’re skilled, intelligent and well versed both professionally and socially. Lately, I’ve been careful who I’m spending my time with. Are they supportive of my goals? Excited about possibility? Eagerly living life as if it was on purpose? That’s where I begin. I suppose it’s not as cut and dry as, “So, what do you do?”I think Americans ask that question too hastily and don’t really take the time to feel someone out as a person before barging in on the obvious, “Who are you and how can you be of service to me?” I prefer to allow that information to naturally come out. Sometimes, I’ll even ask questions such as, “What are you into?” Open ended, inquisitive and yet making space for commonality on many levels to unfold.

  44. I am right at this point in my life. The phrasing I tend to use is “Friends VS Fans”.

    Love this.

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