Quarantine can be lonely; we all know how hard it is to form genuine friendships over Zoom. However, while it's challenging to make new connections during a pandemic, we can certainly foster reconnections throughout the year. How about catching up with that old college roommate, or the cousin you always used to see at family gatherings? Awkward pauses aside, what's the best way to reconnect?
A recent study by researchers at the Universities of Texas and Chicago shows that calling, rather than messaging, an old friend might be the key to rekindling the bond. In one of the study’s experiments, over 100 college students reached out to someone they’d fallen out of touch with for at least two years. About half the participants reached out over the phone, and the other half over email. Surprisingly, there was no significant difference in how awkward participants felt in conversations over the phone versus over email. Plus, compared to the emailers, callers actually felt that they had formed a stronger bond and reconnected more deeply with their old friends. This supports previous studies demonstrating that voices convey more emotions and warmth than text, making both people feel more human to each other.
That’s not to say that phone conversations aren’t still intimidating. Spontaneity can be uncomfortable; we can’t press backspace on the words that exit our mouths. (I, for one, rarely use my cell phone to call people.) However, there are ways to overcome the fear and anxiety that comes with that vulnerability – for example, talking through it with one of our wonderful mental health coaches). So whenever you’re ready, consider saying hello instead of typing it out. Your voice might be more appreciated than you realize.