How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
A bonding conversation is one in which the discussion brings people emotionally closer together such that the primary outcome is a stronger bond between them.
Here are several types of bonding conversation:
In persuasive conversations, the relationship may well be temporary, yet the persuader needs to convince the other person and making a personal connection with them. This is typically done, at least in the short term, by finding similarities. It has been said that we buy from people rather than companies, and the bonding process is an important step.
Persuasive bonding happens as a temporary phenomenon in many everyday conversations where one person wants to persuade another and requires more influence than is offered by existing bonds. This can be seen in conversations between friends and colleagues where more than a simple request is needed to gain agreement.
Bonding activity in persuasive conversations can be found in small talk where similarities are highlighted. After this, a wide range of persuasive methods act around the interpersonal bond, either building it or using it to sell.
There are a number of asymmetric relationships where one person has a clear superior position in which they seek to direct the actions (and maybe even the thoughts) or other people. Typical such relationships include parents, business managers and military officers. In these situations an ideal is to bond the subordinate person to the superior, such that the subordinate feels beholden to the superior person and so obeys commands without question.
A way that command is often established is to give direction and then use simple pleasure and pain in the form of reward and punishment to condition the other person into obedience. Even when the relationship involves more pain than pleasure, the consistency principle may apply in a way that leads the subordinate person to rationalize their obedience by concluding they really do want to do it. This is one reason why people in abusive relationships stay together.
Commanding conversations that create bonds may well involve the command person showing some respect and kindness to their inferiors, even if this is during the brief period of issuing commands. They may also thank them when commands are completed.
In a collegiate relationship, people work together, often within the same company, towards shared or related goals. This activity is significantly helped if they achieve some kind of bonding. One way this is done in organizations can be seen in the way that people dress in similar ways. They also attend company events and interact with a wide range of their colleagues on a daily basis, if only greeting them as they pass. Knowing and saying a person's name is a surprisingly important step along the way, an activity where the ubiquitous organization charts may help.
Organizations can be viewed as 'trust boundaries', where everyone inside automatically trusts one another more than people from outside the organization (and if this is not true then the organization is in deep trouble). Without bonds with your work colleagues any interaction would take much more effort as each person checks up on the other, watches their back and otherwise incurs transaction cost.
Collegiate conversations are typically about work. Bonds form in this where people help one another, either directly or emotionally, for example in showing an interest in what other people are doing. The vision, mission, values and other drivers within the organization (and conversations around these) also help to build bonds, as do shared activities and common enemies (the external 'competitor').
Outside the workplace people build their lives through friends and family, in which the relationship is easier and more relaxed, and may well be based in common interests, from football to fishing. Friends do things together as much because they like one another as because they like the activity, and this shared activity has a significant bonding effect.
Friendship conversations are more relaxed than collegiate conversations. With less of a necessity to collaborate and a lesser emphasis on achieving work goals, friends will spend longer chatting about each other's lives and sympathizing about one another's problems.
Family bonds are usually stronger again than with friends as effects such a 'kin selection' (more unkindly known as 'nepotism') take place. 'Blood is thicker than water' is an indicative saying and can often be seen in both real life and movies where family firms may be out-gunned by family-based criminals.
Family conversations may be like friendship conversations, but more intense. Families talk a lot about themselves, about obedience and care. They talk about the everyday aspects of life, from eating to schooling, and in doing so build bonds at a deep level.
A closer bond than friendship and perhaps even family may be found in romantic relationships, where deep affection leads to seeking a closer connection. Each person feels very close to the other and they may well think about each other on a frequent basis.
Romantic conversations tend to be more intimate, with revealing of secrets and exposing vulnerabilities. This requires a greater trust that may be found in more ordinary friendships.
Bonding is a bringing together of identities where a person's sense of self is expanded to include that of other people. This zone of shared identity helps a person feel greater than when they are alone, although this is also a potential source of threat if the other person abuses the trust that is given from it.
Shared experiences, particularly harsh ones, have been shown to bring people together, and is a typical feature of military training in which commanders seek to build a closely bonded unit. Conversation in this context will typically include much talk about honor and loyalty, with praise of exemplary heroes. Those who betray and break values may also be mentioned and severely criticized.
In a less harsh social context, bonding conversation between friends and colleagues may still use significant us-and-them elements that serve to differentiate between in-group and out-group people. This often includes exaggerations that polarize, making others seem more different and in-group people more similar (and which hence creates greater bonding).
Bonding is an important element of society, where the consequent trust and care leads people to help one another, obey social rules and otherwise avoid actions that would reduce social cohesion.
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