What an onion can teach you about making friends (without the tears!)
An onion has layers. The outside is purple and it peels into the white acrylic center. Humans also have layers and peeling is how we form intimacy.
Consider two scenarios:
You meet someone and they pour their heart out to you – sharing the deepest part of the soul
You meet someone and they’re kind of a dick. You meet them again two days later and you see a softer, deeper part of them.
Who do you feel more connected with? Number 2! And how many marriages have you heard where the wife says “I thought he was an asshole at first!”
Let's explore an example to peel back some layers of this phenomenon and how it relates to boundaries:
Everyone says I’m an extrovert but actually I'm pretty shy. My outer-most layer is sales-y. I'm aggressive and hard to break through to the human center. But with my close friends, I'm soft, laid-back and generous. Most people never reach that center and most people shouldn't.
In particular, you have to first prove that you respect my boundaries in order for me to peel off some layers of shell. Here's an example of why this mechanism is crucial to human interaction.
I don't do free trial classes. When I make a free class, 30 people come and it's a mess. So my trial classes are at least 10-15 euro and still 16 people come. But "trial" class has a "free" connotation and there's always one who didn't get the memo. This is a tricky situation and one of two things happens:
1. The person comes up to me and says "I honestly didn't know it was paid and it was a great class but I really can't afford this." I never make that person pay.
2. The person sneaks away as soon as I turn my back. That person is never welcome back at my workshops.
Why? The person in situation 1. proves that they respect my boundaries and the rules of class. Person 2 does not respect my boundaries and therefore they won't respect their classmates' boundaries and that is why they're banned from all future workshops. More genreally, I will never allow anyone who disrespects my boundaries to see my soft gooey center.
Now let's imagine someone who doesn't uphold their own boundaries: Someone doesn't pay one week and still comes to class the next week.
This person is a "pushover" and we lose respect for her. I say "her" because women are disadvantaged when it comes to asserting boundaries due to societal norms and it's extra important that they learn to uphold boundaries. A pushover will never be accepted as a leader because they don't make people feel safe. While upholding boundaries may get people to call you names, their actions will display the true underlying respect for you and you will be rewarded with better friendships and more business opportunity.
Intimacy is the feeling created when a layer is peeled back at the right time. If it's too early, we lose respect for the person. If it's too late, we lose interest.
Therefore intimacy is a result of social intelligence. It's tricky and it's what makes learning personal skills so much fun. It turns out we all can sense when it's time to go deeper with a phenomenon I call "The Pause." More on that in coming weeks in our Monday "Skip the Small Talk" course. Learn more here and remember to subscribe below for our Superpowered Speech Structure, a trade secret I've used for seven years to build my business and lead others to do the same.
-Peter "Peel that Onion" Mezey