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Summary

We have unique relationships with everyone we know and these relationships heavily influence how we behave around others.

One of the most useful ways to think about our unique relationships is to look at them in terms of strong ties and weak ties. Strong ties are the people you’re closest to. Weak ties are people you don’t know very well.

Many research studies have found that most people have fewer than ten strong ties, and many have fewer than five. We keep our circles of trust very small. The majority of communication is with our strong ties. With a majority of our attention focused on strong tie relationships, it’s no surprise that we are disproportionately influenced by the people we’re closest to emotionally.

Our weak ties are our acquaintances, and we communicate with them infrequently. Weak ties are often a better source of information than strong ties because they are connected to more diverse sets of people than our strong ties, and these diverse ties pass on more novel information. Hence they can often know more than our strong ties do.

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