From family members to close friends to lovers, the most important relationships in our lives are like intimate floating glaciers that move slowly and gather no matter how hard they break. Acquaintances on the other hand are not like that-they are more like stagnant water.
Wow, the beginning sounds like an emotional intro to a graduation speech but the latter is just plain and an anticlimax- and such is life.
One may be wondering why all this talk about relationships and glaciers. At this juncture many may have taken the dive into thinking I am about to pull a “Drake” on you and talk about some emotional roller-coaster I am on. Unfortunately, this is not one of those moments. This whole post was incited because an older professional acquaintance asked me to “Stay in touch.” after exchanging contacts for more than 6 months. This simplistic expression has been ringing in my ears all week long.
There are some people in my contact list who only show up in my timeline when they need something. They disappear shortly after they get what they need. They don’t surprise me anymore because I do it too….only sometimes. The thing with this acquaintance was that I have often considered to go to him if needed to switch jobs and he rather hits me up and asks me to keep to touch.
What could be worse than having the perfect resourceful person to reach out to about a job opportunity, a career switch, or an MBA application, and not being able to do so because you’ve lost touch? How many people have you come across in your life who suddenly might help your cause, personally or professionally, but whom you haven’t seen or spoken to in ages — and perhaps you just feel guilty about popping up out from the blue now that you need them?
The bad news is that it happens more often than you might think. The good news is that it’s entirely possible to reconnect with people, even if it seems preposterous after months or years gone by though it’s more important to stay in touch to avoid the awkwardness thereafter.
The first necessary thing to do is to reach out and acknowledge the lapse in time. You don’t just for instance, call and start blabbing about issue after issue like nothing happened. Glossing over a long-term lapse in communication is akin to ignoring the elephant in the room. You both know it’s out there so you better just admit it and start building the bridge.
After that is done, explain the “Why now?” If you just “Hi” me on Whatsapp after about 3 months of no contact, I automatically assume you need something. What’s not so pleasant is if I have to have you if you need something rather than coming clean. It’s important to think about why you’re reaching out now, after all this time, and be transparent about your motive. The “why now” should include both the transition and event that prompted you to get in touch and your agenda, if you have one.
Finally, offer a quid pro quo. As a human being, I believe you need to be, for a lack of a better word, resourceful. If you are in the position of usually asking for favours, you need to have something to offer. If you have nothing at that point, ask to return the favor one day in exchange for what you need. You should work on reestablishing a relationship that proves useful (and fun) to both of sides for years to come.
As for my acquaintance, taking my own advice, I am going to pick up my phone and make that call right after the last full-stop. For all I know that is where my next job is going to come from. So to you reading this, reach out to some old beneficial acquaintances and build some bridges. Don’t dull!