Why should you reach out to old friends?

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Thinking of contacting old friends but worried that it will be awkward or that they won’t appreciate it? You should make those phone calls or send a text or email, according to new research.

A study published July 11 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people underestimate how much friends and old acquaintances value hearing from them.

“If there’s someone you’ve been hesitant to reach out to, maybe you’ve lost touch with, go ahead and reach out, they’ll appreciate it a lot more than you think,” Peggy said. Liu, lead author of the study. Liu – Ben L. Fryer Chair in Marketing and Associate Professor of Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School of Business.

The researchers conducted a series of 13 experiments with more than 5,900 participants to see if people could accurately estimate how much their friends valued them and which forms of communication had the greatest impact. In these experiments, contact was defined as a phone call, text, email, note, or small gift.

As a result of the experiments, it was found that the initiators significantly underestimated the response of the receiver to registration.

Clinical psychologist and friendship expert Miriam Kirmaier says, “It’s often less about these grand overtures that we can make in our relationships and more about the small moments of letting our friend know we’re thinking about them.” involved in research.

Research has shown that the recipient values ​​communication more when the communication is surprising, such as when it is from someone with whom they do not communicate regularly, or when the participant and recipient do not consider themselves close friends.

“When you feel a sense of positive surprise,” Liu said, “it really magnifies the gratitude you feel.”

Relationships, including friendships, can be one of the strongest predictors of how healthy we are and how old we will live, and they can increase our overall well-being.

“These types of low-stakes, small-scale outreaches go a long way toward building relationships early, building friendships, and maintaining them over time,” Kirmaier said.

Friendship requires food, says sociologist Anna Akbari. But various dangerous situations may prevent us from reaching it, said Akbari, who was not involved in the research.

To overcome this discomfort, notice and try to resist the automatic thoughts that come up when you think about talking to your friend, Kirmeier said. These patterns may include ideas that one friend cares more and puts more effort into it than another, or the idea that your friend doesn’t like you.

Akbari said, “One of the most common fears in achieving adoption is rejection. Focusing on the possibility of rejection can lead to the loss of close friendships and enjoyable experiences, he added.

Rejection is unavoidable, so learning how to deal with it can help people become more resilient, Akbari said.

Marisa Franco, assistant clinical professor of psychology at the University of Maryland and author of the forthcoming Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Helps You Make and Keep Friends. He was not involved in the study.

Doing so helps you avoid the assumption that things will go wrong when you reach out, he added.

Recent studies have not evaluated the effects of communication on social media platforms, and friendship experts have conflicting opinions on how much social media can change a conversation with an old friend.

For those who aren’t ready to suddenly text or call their friends, commenting or replying on social media can be a good place to start, Franco said.

However, using social media is not the most natural form of communication and can often lead to superficial conversations, Akbari said.

“We mistake comments on social media posts for personal communication and communication, not personal exchanges,” he said.

And while communicating via text or email isn’t as personal as social media, Akbari suggested people call their friends. It may feel awkward to pick up the phone and make a call, but the connection is more authentic, he added.

Younger generations have created an environment for communication that doesn’t happen in real time, he said. As a result, they may experience anxiety while picking up the phone.

“If we talk to someone on the phone or face-to-face, we’re having a dialogue,” Akbari said. “You can answer. I can say something. There’s no ‘I’ll think about it,’ ‘I’ll do the right thing,’ or ‘If it makes me the least bit uncomfortable, I can easily opt out.'”

Not ready to call? Write a thank-you note, said Harry Reiss, professor of psychology and associate dean of arts, sciences and engineering at the University of Rochester. He did not participate in the study. According to a 2021 study in the Journal of Applied School Psychology, expressing gratitude leads to “stronger and more secure social relationships.”

This new research may help ease the anxiety people face when it comes to connecting with friends, Akbari said. Since the main way to communicate with people is through personal communication, the worst thing is that the recipient does not respond, he added.

“You got the answer to the question of how that person will treat you,” Akbari said when he didn’t answer. “You focus on someone else who will be more appreciative, who will reciprocate.”

Friendships can sometimes feel one-sided, where one person feels like they’re putting in all the effort, Kirmaier said.

Kiermeier has noticed that many clients worry that they are carrying a heavy emotional burden when it comes to their friendships. However, this is often not the case, he added.

“Sometimes we underestimate how much we have,” he said. “It’s also important to take a step back, to consider the small moments when our friends reach out.”


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