This is sort of a secret combined cruise-and-philosophy/psychology blog (mwa ha ha)… or maybe now not so secret.  Anyway!  On the cruise, I often found myself sitting with a group of people where I knew one of them from the previous Magic Cruise (or through previously established Seattle friendships) and was able to bootstrap my way to new friends via introductions through that person.   I’m sure everyone has experience with this phenomenon in multi-group situations: when one group meets another, there is nearly always bridging going on through mutual connections.

Thanks to Lindsey, Steve, Peter, Dwayne, Patrick and Roberto, I met a ton of awesome new folks and with their (often merely implicit) support, quickly developed friendships through them.  The development of these relationships is an interesting study for me, since if you observe carefully, you can tell that at some point you + new friend have a stronger connection than you + old friend.  On rare occasions (I can think of only a few times over the years this has happened to me), you + new friend can develop a stronger bond than old friend + new friend.

I want a word to describe the strength of the connection between the pairs in you-old-new; the unsatisfactory word I have used in the past is Influence, because generally speaking the stronger the connection, the more likely you are to ask and receive something (a favor, a thought) from that friend.  But really that just describes the effect; the cause is closer to comfort and trust.  When you are out far past your normal bedtime (which before the cruise was like, 9-10pm?) drinking and socializing with new friends until roughly 3am, and you do it many nights in a row (despite the pounding headaches in the morning!), that is definitely indicative of comfort.

But what about trust?  My stab at the source of trust is something like: as you interact with a person, you are subconsciously testing them for reasonable responses.  Reasonable, in this case, is what you consider reasonable (highly subjective).  Each time you get a reasonable response, or are “pleasantly surprised” in some way (I think because any positive emotion gets mapped at least a little into the trust-o-meter, at least in my case), your trust toward the other person ticks up a notch.

I have a thought experiment I’ll discuss another time that helps me consider the usefulness of an Influence metric.