September 7, 2022

Using Social Evidence to Make Friends

 Hello Everyone,

I hope you are all doing well since I wrote my last post.  The school year has just started and we're all getting readjusted to not just homework, new teachers, and classes, but also to making new friends as well.  It seems that making friends has become harder since covid and even though school has been back in-person for over a year, it seems we're still trying to figure out social situations.  That's why we are going to be talking about social evidence.  If you read my post on making a hangout plan you learned the steps necessary to make a plan to have a successful social get together with a friend.  We're going to take it a step further by discussing social evidence and how it can help you make a more effective hangout plan with friends.

First of all, what is social evidence?  Social evidence is, simply, information about another person such as their likes or dislikes, which we can use to create a social opportunity that they will enjoy participating in.  Social evidence also includes learning about how others communicate and interact with people in a social setting.  Social evidence is important for creating stronger friendships because we are taking the time to show an interest in someone else and what is important to them.  When we create a hangout plan using social evidence we send a message that we care about the other person and want to share in their positive experiences with them.  Using social evidence is also an important part of social reciprocity, which means getting something in return for our efforts.  Basically, if we take an interest in someone else and what they like, they will make more of an effort to engage with us around our interests.

What does social evidence look like?  Social evidence is looks like any information about another person that we can use to make our hangout plan.  An example of social evidence may look like this: Billy loves reading about animals and watching documentaries on them, especially farm animals.  Billy does not like large crowds and loud sounds are physically painful to him.  Billy prefers socializing with one or two people at a time.  Billy likes to plan get-togethers at least a month in advance so he can be sure not to miss the event.  Billy doesn't drive.

How do we use social evidence to make our hangout plan?  We take the information we have about the other person and apply it to our who, what, when, where, and how list of questions that provides the structure of our hangout plan.  Please reference the hangout plan post for a worksheet you can use.  Let's work with the following example:

Hangout Plan Goal: Get together for a social outing with Billy using the social evidence listed above.

Who: Billy is the person we want to hang out with

What: Suggest a get together focusing on animals.  Billy has informed us that they are his favourite interest.

When: Meet in October for the get together.  Billy has informed us that he likes to plan at least a month in advance so he doesn't miss the get together.

Where: Suggest meeting a petting zoo during the day.  Billy has informed us that he loves farm animals the best.  Meeting during the day is likely to be less crowded and less likely to cause Billy discomfort from being in a crowded area.

How: Suggest giving Billy a ride.  We know Billy doesn't drive so offering to give him a ride shows consideration of the limitation.

IN SUM: The above was a very simplified example of the application of social evidence to the creation of a considerate and thoughtful hang-out plan.  Social evidence allowed us to create a plan that shows an interest in what is important to Billy while also taking his needs into account.  Putting forth such effort shows genuine care for Billy as a friend and will likely lead to a reciprocal social opportunity for us.


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