No surprise here, studies show that social connection directly impacts our sense of life satisfaction. We are social beings and we need to connect with others. In Mazlow's Hierarchy of Needs, only survival and safety superseded our need for relationships.
With social media, keeping in contact is easier than ever. In Alan Greenblatt's article on the decline of phone use, he highlights why people are using phones less: privacy issues (especially with landlines), they find phone calls intrusive, and the feeling that immediate response is then required of them—not the case with texting or email. Despite so much contact occurring through our key pads, I still think it is important to pick up the phone, as it is more intimate and engaging to hear a friend's voice.
I get that this isn't easy.
When you have children you are juggling a lot. You are constantly working on relationships with your child, your spouse, your family, and your friends. I think it makes it all the more important to debrief, catch up, and support each other in this crazy world of parenting. Reaching out with a phone call goes a long way.
There are obvious challenges. When I was single and many of my friends had children, I got used to the constant interruptions during phone conversations. As I shared, responses would be intermittently broken by shouts to remove things from noses, pauses to feed and soothe, and questions from a partner as to the location of something. Now that I too am one of the walking wed . . . and bred, connecting through the phone or Skype can be difficult when there is little time or energy; however, it is attainable with lowered expectations and increased tolerance for the benefit of making the connection. Often as a parent, talking on the phone is like a game of tennis with extra balls being thrown in regularly and randomly—a brand new game, but it's still fun to get on the court every once in a while.
And speaking of time, accept that when you haven't spoken in six months, it will be intense trying to get as caught up as possible in a brief conversation. First, we generally rely on other forms of media for the basic catch up . . .
Watched you do the ice bucket challenge.
Liked the updated photos.
Read you changed jobs.
For the actual phone time, my friends and I compare it to speed dating—topics fired at one another, quick responses, and questions volleyed back and forth. We've never spoken faster. We breathe through our diaphragms and move swiftly through the updates. We all understand leisurely conversations are not always available in this age and stage in life. So, although focus and time is a bit compromised, a quick catch up is still worth it.
And, of course, leisurely is nice. So try to plan it! You need/ deserve time to be heard, so put it in the diary! After the kids bedtime, meet on the phone with a tea or glass of wine in hand and give that a try, too.
The Takeaway: Life is more fulfilling when you stay connected. Make the calls, just lower your expectations of a regular great heart to heart. Instead, schedule times for uninterrupted connection, and enjoy the time you have.The phone conversations and the time allowed for them has likely changed, but appreciating them as connections and for the boost they bring should still encourage us to call.
Want to read more posts about strengthening relationships? See The Awkwardness and Rewards of Expanding Your Social Circle and Four Great Ways to Date Your Mate. To address a mild fear of phones, read Making Phone Calls When You Don't Want To.
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