Each of us has a Social Atom - a network of important relationships
individual is born into a social network, a network of relationships.
At a time when Rutherford was defining the atom in chemical life, Jacob Moreno
defined the social atom as the smallest unit of society each of us has.
Moreno proposed that the social atom comprises emotionally significant
people and their relationships with the individual in order for him or
her to be in emotional equilibrium.
Our original social atom comprises family members
carers. These people and their role relationships form patterns of
behaviour. Moreno termed the interactions from the behaviours and
counter-behaviours, the cultural atom.
grow and develop as a result of experiences and interactions with those
around us. We learn new behaviours in response to our experiences, and
from new people entering and leaving our social atom.
implication of our social atom, is that as we, or others important to
us, move to a new organisation or to a new role within the organisation,
our role relationships shift and our social atom alters. This affects
our emotional equilibrium. Our focus becomes responding to the loss
rather than concentrating on the vitality and productivity that the
relationship enhanced. Restructures in organisations tear the fabric of
individual's social atoms and research shows that role relationships are
re-enacted and behavioural patterns persist, particularly under
are some of the signs of low resilience in the face of organisation
change or setbacks? One is feeling exhausted or a bit run down. Another
sign might be that your defensive behaviours are to the fore. Some
examples of defensive behaviours are:
- walking away, escaping, going silent
- justifying, making excuses, over explaining
- blaming, condemning or being judgmental
- Using derision, sarcasm or cynicism
How is your psychological resilience? What are the criteria your relationships are established on? Click here to map your current professional social atom with some of the relationship criteria for resilience.
each of us should have a number of people in both our professional
social atom and our personal social atom. We would interact with them on
these criteria (for example):
- I can confide almost anything with...........?
- .......... helps me see the funny side of things?
- .......... would drop what they were doing for me when I needed help?
- I would drop what I was doing to listen to ...............?
- I greatly appreciate being confided in by......
- It would be hard for me to be motivated in my work without.........
a look at your network of relationship on these criteria. What patterns
do you notice? Who might you re-activate or develop a relationship with
to strengthen your resilience?
Talk with Diana to strengthen your resilience and vitality in responding to organisation change.
References on resilience:
Ann E Hale, Conducting Clinical Sociometric Explorations 1985 p 168 http://www.sociometry.net
Martin Seligman www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx
American Psychological Association