The roots of our relationships are still intact. We just need to adjust the ways that we communicate with each other. Now is the perfect time to check in with your friends, from your closest pals to old childhood friends whom you haven’t seen in years!
Good Friends – The Need For Connection
Firstly, humans are social creatures—we need to feel connected, to have conversations, to support and be supported by our loved ones. Luckily for us, modern-day technology makes it much easier to keep in touch with our friends and family, even when the world around us is on pause.
Before the pandemic, you might have texted or video called your loved ones every once in a while. But now it’s time to embrace texting, video calls and use them in creative ways to communicate with the people you love.
Connecting Through Text
Face-to-face conversations flow naturally between good friends. Certainly tone of voice and speed of speech are clear giveaways letting you know when a topic is hot, or when it’s time to move on. Over text, it’s really hard to regulate the flow of the conversation.
For example, you might ask your friend a question about the guy they’re seeing or their new job, and after one reply, you change the subject or jump into a story about your boyfriend. Tempting as it might be to bombard your friend with questions or change the subject too quickly, it’s important to slow down. In short, imagine yourself sitting next to your friend and show the same amount of interest over text as you would in person.
Catch The Nonverbal Cues
Meanwhile, just like a conversation flows naturally in person so does silent information. Often, you don’t even need to ask your friends how they’re feeling: the smile on their face or the slump of their shoulders speaks volumes. On the other hand, texting doesn’t provide you with nearly as much information.
Without nonverbal cues to rely on, you might need to over-communicate. For example, if your friend keeps replying to you with one-word answers, text them “Are you OK? Do you want me to give you a call?”.
Similarly, the same goes for long bouts of silence. If you’re texting regularly with a friend and they suddenly go MIA, check in on them to make sure they are alright. “I haven’t heard from you for awhile, are you holding up ok?”
Pay Attention To Your Own Texting Habits
If you’re having trouble reading your friends over text, they’re probably having a hard time, too.
Try making things easier for them by giving your stories context and background, adding a wink emoji if you’re being sarcastic, and replying to texts in a timely manner.
Let’s face it: we’re all feeling anxious enough already, without the added drama of being left on read.
Try Other Forms Of Digital Communication
If text conversations are just too awkward and opaque for you, take advantage of all of the different digital communication options available to you! Schedule in FaceTime chats when you know they aren’t busy with work or family obligations.
Have a conference call during an online poker game. Get together on Google Hangouts or Zoom. Use these precious moments to chit-chat and laugh!
So, how do you reach out to someone during this difficult time? You can start the conversation with a text like:
“How are you holding up? I just thought about that time we…”
“What’s going on with that big work project/your family/your new hobby?”
“What are you doing to stay busy? Any tips?”
You can also throw in some more topical questions and statements, such as:
“Are all of your local stores sold out of toilet paper and french fries, too?”
“We should totally get together for a virtual Happy Hour and some quarantinis!”
“What do you call an exercise class that takes place via video conferencing? ZOOM-BA! (ba-dum-tssssss!) See, I still have my bad sense of humor 😊”
To sum up, the topic of conversation doesn’t matter as much as the fact that conversation is happening!
Good Friends, Good Times
If you’re running out of conversation topics, try something new together! For instance, try making your own DIY hair or face masks, power through an eight-minute ab workout together, or try out a new recipe! (Banana bread and sourdough are hot commodities right now, but if you’re not much of a baker, you can always try mixing your own piña coladas or margaritas!)
What NOT To Text About
Try not to swap hospital horror stories or virus statistics. Although it’s important to stay informed, communicating with your friends should be an opportunity to inject some joy and optimism into your lives.
Keeping It Positive
Reminisce about adventures you’ve shared, places you’ve visited, and characters you’ve met along the way. Maybe even daydream about the things you’ll do when you can finally reunite in person!
If your friend is feeling sad or anxious, lend a listening ear. It’s OK if you don’t have any words of wisdom—most of the time, being there for your friend is more than enough.