Social Capital and what goes around

Have you ever stopped to think about why some people seem to take things in their stride? You know the kind. They seem to be jolly in most things, quite light-hearted and seem to enjoy life more than others. Yeah, them. The tree-huggers. Them and those bloody smiles. Well you can do it too! And all for free… hang on that quip didn’t quite work.

Here’s the thing. It is for free. But importantly it’s within your power to make a difference. It’s your social capital. It works for you because you make it work. If you want to get all zen about it, you could argue it’s karma. But karma is slightly more complicated than that. And if you wanted to get all universal about it, you could argue it’s the natural way of the things. But the universe is definitely more complicated than that.

At a more understandable level, it’s to do with what you choose to do on your way home. When you go home this evening, or go about your business this evening, what are you doing with your interactions with other people? Are you creating experiences which will serve you well in the future? Are you making a concerted effort to help someone else? Are you genuinely being involved in someone else’s life for the better?

Your social capital that you develop is only down to you. Those people in the first paragraph, they’ve worked at building their social capital. Not because they’re conceited or opportunists. But because they see the value in it. They see the value in being genuine, positive and helpful in society. Ah, yes, in society. Social capital goes beyond just individual interactions. It’s about how you interact with society.

And how does it come back to you? You think differently about the opportunities presented to you. About the circumstances you’re faced with. About the people you meet. About the life you lead. About your friends. About your family. About your life partner. About your work place. About your commute. About the train service. It all changes. Not because they’ve changed. But because you see other possibilities.

So, how’s your social capital?


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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

2 thoughts on “Social Capital and what goes around”

  1. Sorry for not spotting this earlier I think it came out whilst I was away. I confess I’m drawn to this post in part by the title and its close tie to the name of my company, only you’ve put it better than I. For me, social capital/community/involvement/participation call it what you will, is vital. I personally thrive on it and I see many others doing so too. Some realise it, many don’t. The power of high quality interacion with one another is enormous. And high quality doesn’t have to mean intensive. For example, when I first started work at BT, every morning I used to walk past a big team of people who sat in silence at their desks. I decided to start to say hello to them. For several days I was met with stunned silence, and I gently persisted before one of the team acknowledged me. Over the next 18 months this simple action grew into thriving conversations between me and this team and people in the team with each other. They simply became more alive and more engaged as they took a greater interest in one another and themselves too I guess. They talked about personal stuff and about how to do their work better, sharing ideas and conversation. This was early in my career and I’ve never forgotten it. And all I did was start the conversation and keep gently persisting until it came alive. I fear most people don’t gently persist and often give up just before the dialogue takes flight.

  2. Sukh
    Totally agree. I’ve been reading Heather Townsend’s book on Business Networking. Although I’m familiar with huge chunks of what she has written about she has a great way of expressing things and some memorable quotes.
    For people who aren’t great with words, or should I say, better with numbers, she presents opportunity as a formula:
    Opportunity = Credibility x (personal brand + visibility + social capital)
    I have yet to try it on accountants to see if it helps them get a better understanding of networking.

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