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I'm not talking about workplaces. I'm talking about friends outside the workplace.

Maybe you have a friend and got introduced to his friend (X) sometime. Then after a couple of years you needed help from this X person and you call/message him, remind him of how you know him and request for whatever help/info that you're looking for.

This friend answers your query and it's a pretty long answer. So it takes like 10-15 minutes and you get the info that you've been seeking for quite some time.

This is where the awkward part comes up. Because I don't know him well enough, I don't have much to make in terms of conversation. I can ask a question or two casually about how's it going etc. But any more questions more than that feels forced. However, if I don't speak more than a sentence or two then it also feels guilty for getting help from him and not giving back anything in return.

How do I maintain/develop my relation with an acquaintance after I've received help from him?

  • 1
    The advice that you're seeking from "X", is it something quite esoteric? If it is, it's probably not surprising or awkward to X that people seem him for advice, regardless of how well they are acquainted. (I know that might not change your own perspective, but it might help when it comes to developing an acquaintanceship with them). – user8671 Feb 13 at 9:37
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But any more questions than that feels forced.

This is the key point! It feels forced to you... and that’s what it often is. We feel compelled to return a favor after someone has helped us. We don’t necessarily want friendship, but instead a method for paying back a debt.

So to answer your question:

How do I maintain/develop my relation with an acquaintance after I've received help from him?

Don’t, if you aren’t feeling like this person would actually be good fit as a friend. If you force a relationship to develop that’s about the same as trying to ‘kiss up’ to someone to get what you want.

It’s very likely they’ll sense that you’re just trying to be forcefully friendly and it’ll probably make the situation awkward. What I like to do in this type of situation is offer something in return. Maybe like this:

Thank you so much! Hey, if you want I’ll buy you lunch sometime. I really appreciate your help.

It doesn’t even have to be that bold. It could even be like:

Thanks for the help! If you ever need anything, let me know. Maybe I could give you a hand too!

This let’s them know you value their help and are not just there to mooch their assistance. You might even make a new friend! :)


Edit

@Ed Grimm brought up a few extra considerations. It’s important to know that you aren’t actually indebted to the person who helped you. This was something they voluntarily did and you aren’t ‘forced’ to pay them back.

Some people may like to hear that you’re interested to help, but it’s often that a simple “thanks” will suffice as well. Play it by ear and see if the person is the type that would expect to hear an extended appreciation (meaning they want to hear your interest in also helping them).

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    It's also important to remember that different people are different, and what they value might not be what you value. Most of the time when I help someone, what I most appreciate is being able to get back to what I was doing. This goes double if I was in the middle of doing something. Most people aren't me, but I have met others who are happy to help but would prefer to not be bothered with obligatory appreciation. This doesn't mean I'll object to a thanks man... but if my 5 minute helpful hand turns into a wasted afternoon because a stranger had to give extended thanks... – Ed Grimm Feb 13 at 7:19
  • Of course, there are others who do want that. So it's important to pay attention to what they say and their body language. Don't be offended by them not wantingan extended thank you; just appreciate that it didn't take that long that time. And remember that you not giving an extended thank you now doesn't mean you must owe them later if they want it at another time. Payment for services rendered that wasn't discussed before service is rendered should be negotiable at a minimum, if not strictly voluntary. – Ed Grimm Feb 13 at 7:22
  • @EdGrimm thanks for bringing this to attention :). I’ve added a bit of what you said in my edit. Does this cover in essence what you were trying to say? – Anilla Feb 13 at 7:36
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    In regards to your update, while you are indeed not forced to pay them back, there is a social expectance of owing them a favor (even if that's not explicitly their intention or expectation at the time). Not legally binding, and it doesn't even morally compel you to perform whatever favor they may ask of you, but there's a reasonable immorality to refusing a reasonable favor when you owe them one. – Flater Feb 14 at 11:18

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