Getting in touch
We’ve all been in a position where life gets busy, schedules are difficult to coordinate and connecting with friends feels harder than ever. With some friendships, we may lose touch and want to reconnect. However, the more time that passes, the more uncertain it can feel if they want to hear from us.
Well, a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology says it’s time to reach out. Researchers found numerous benefits when reaching out to friends and old acquaintances. Especially if you’re unsure of how well they’ll receive hearing from you.
What was the study?
The study, led by Dr Peggy Liu, is called “The Surprise of Reaching Out: Appreciated More Than We Think.” In the study, researchers posed the question: “Do people accurately understand how much other people value being reached out to by someone in their social circle?”
To answer this question, researchers carried out 13 experiments with more than 5,900 participants. In the experiments, researchers measured how much people estimated their friends or acquaintances would appreciate them reaching out versus how much those on the receiving end did appreciate it.
They also examined different forms of communication – phone calls, texts, emails, notes or even small gifts – and their impact.
And the results were telling.
What do the results show?
Over the series of experiments, experts discovered a similar trend: those reaching out significantly underestimated how much their friends would appreciate hearing from them. Plus, the more unexpected the communication was, the more the friend on the receiving end appreciated it.
“People are fundamentally social beings and enjoy connecting with others,” the researchers wrote.
In fact, what made these moments of reaching out so impactful was the effort they showed – no matter the form of communication.
Dr Amie Gordon, a social psychologist at the University of Michigan, emphasises the importance of small moments and making efforts in relationships in a Psychology Today article. “In a busy life, these little moments might feel just like that – little moments that don’t really matter… But each moment we ignore is a missed opportunity to connect and build up an emotional bank of positive moments.”
The science is clear – people appreciate the effort we put into our friendships. And we greatly underestimate it.