Building Relationships with Social Interaction Optimization

building stronger relationships with SIOWe've all been taught that being polite is important from an early age. Say please. Say thank you. Say you're welcome. In the process of habitualizing all this polite behavior, it can sometimes tend to become a little too automatic and begin to lose some of its intended effect. Today we explore the concept of social interaction optimization (SIO), a way to better appreciate those around you and thus build stronger relationships.

Optimization is a concept that drives my professional passion. It's amazing how making a few minor, yet positive changes to a website or process can be all that's needed to drive substantially better outcomes in any online endeavor. In fact, that's the basic gist of several online marketing disciplines such as search engine optimization (SEO) and conversion optimization (CO).

Turns out, relationships aren't that different when it comes to optimization. As with websites, there are minor, yet positive changes you can make to your interactions with others that will help build stronger, better relationships. That's the gist of something I like to call social interaction optimization, or SIO (I can't help myself. I'm addicted to acronyms).Be gracious instead of just civil with SIO.Maximize politeness by being gracious instead of just formal or civil.

The idea behind SIO is to optimizing social interactions by actively increasing the politeness of your interactions with others. Why be merely be civil (definition: not rude, marked by satisfactory adherence to social usages) when you could be gracious (definition: characterized by charm, good taste and generosity of spirit)?

Two Examples of Social Interaction Optimization

  • Thank You - Don't just thank people for the things they do for you. Tell favor doers exactly what you're thankful for to demonstrate that you can fully appreciate their skill. Instead of just saying, "Thanks," why not say, "Thanks a lot for that report you sent to me. I especially appreciate the layout and polish because it will be easy to illustrate important details to upper-management."
  • You're Welcome - We often say you're welcome by saying, "No problem." In the process you shrug off credit for a good deed and miss out on a chance at SIO. Instead, say, "It was my pleasure. You're very welcome."

As with any optimization strategy, it's important not to overdo social interaction optimization. You don't want to be insincere. You want to strive to be genuinely gracious, and have that come across in your intactions. The benefits of SIO include building stronger existing relationships and creating new ones faster. 

What do you think about the concept of social interaction optimization, or SIO? Some may say it's common sense (Yep, it is). Others may find it to be a helpful new tool to build relationships and increase effectiveness as they navigate the highly matrixed world of clients, projects and org charts with dotted lines. I'm very curious to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below. I especially appreciate connecting with and learning from people that leave comments, so thank you in advance!