Just when we have stopped doing it, science discovers the benefits of talking on the phone. Listening to a friendly voice creates stronger bonds than sending a text message, says this study from the University of Texas. The same researchers acknowledge that most of us would rather send an audio or text than call, and yet the connection we seek would be achieved by speaking rather than writing compulsive monosyllables on WhatsApp.
At least a couple of generations have taken a mania to talk on the phone. Rather synchronous communication, because we already send as many audio and voice notes as texts. Synchronous communication is what happens in real time and forces us to have an immediate and accurate response at hand, while the other listens to our hesitations or recreates our silences. In asynchronous communication systems, such as WhatsApp audio or text messages, it is possible to edit and delete. In short, controlling the version of ourselves that we want to show, but in a real-time conversation everything gives us away. The telemarketers who do telephone marketing are recommended to speak with a smile. “You can even guess by smiling by phone,” they are taught in training courses. And who wants that level of transparency and vulnerability in their life? You can’t leave someone in viewed in a telephone conversation.
The report of the Telefonica Foundation Digital Society in Spain ensures that, among young people between the ages of 14 and 24, the daily use of instant messaging almost doubles that of calls. In this age group, they interact daily and very repeatedly, but through Telegram and WhatsApp, the preferred channel for almost 97% of young people in Spain. The report, carried out with data from 2018, also records that 40% of adolescents between the ages of 14 and 19 communicate from their room via video calls, but not with everyone, only with the most intimate, and that does not include the parents who, if they dared to make a video call to their children, would probably be met with a laconic WhatsApp in return: “What do you want?”
I am generation X [entre 40 y 50 anos] and I perfectly understand the benefits of synchronous communication”, affirms Cristobal Fernandez, vice dean of the Faculty of Information Sciences at the Complutense University of Madrid, and adds: “Calls are the paradigm of synchronous communication, but they are quite disruptive, they do not necessarily occur at the right time. Instead, asynchronous communication can be better prepared. The synchronous can generate anxiety, even panic in the youngest, who are reluctant to answer a call at the moment it occurs. Hence, it is increasingly common to always carry the mobile in silence.
According to the 2022 survey ‘Generation Mute’ Millennials Phone Call Statistics conducted by BankMyCell, 75% of young people (20-somethings and teenagers) avoid calls because they take up “too much time” and 64% say that this way they avoid dealing with “pesky and demanding people”. Nearly 80% experience apprehension and anxiety if they have to call, and need a few minutes to prepare.
The survey lists the tactics that are put in place to not respond. From always keeping the phone silent (63%) to never having coverage (12%). There are also those who let the phone ring while they stare at the screen, and when the caller finally hangs up, they send a strategic message: “Did you call me?” An overwhelming 88% prefer to have unlimited data in their telephone plans, instead of calls, which they find “intrusive, disturbing and with a high risk of generating verbal confrontation”.
The eight minute rule
However, another study published in 2021 in the journal NEVER showed that, during the pandemic, adults who received a short phone call were able to quickly reduce anxiety, depression and feelings of loneliness. And to be a little happier in 2023, The New York Times has released a list of challenges, including talking on the phone. The therapy would work if, and only if, the duration of the call is agreed in advance: eight minutes. No more no less. According to the New York newspaper, the pact is essential to eliminate uncertainty and minimize tensions.
“Speaking on the phone again at this point, when we have managed to limit the communication time and gain effectiveness? It seems to me that it is wanting to put doors to the field ”, says the psychologist Isabel Larraburu. In her opinion, that now you have to ask for permission to call is “a very positive and practical development.” “Chat calls are deprecated and scary. It is not known how long they will last, unlike an audio, which you do know, even before listening to it, ”she adds.
The idea of agreeing to the eight minutes comes from a 2021 study from the Department of Psychology at Harvard University that showed that calls rarely ended when both participants wanted. After analyzing 932 telephone conversations, the research team concluded that there was always one person who was left wanting, while to another the call had seemed like an eternity. According to this research, the discrepancy between the actual and desired conversation was equivalent to half the talk. The authors of the study affirm that ending a call is “a classic coordination problem” that humans, accustomed to putting many end points in their lives, have not been able to solve because, they say, to do so they would need information that they normally hide from each other. .
Asking permission to call is “a very positive and practical development”
Isabel Larraburu, psychologist
“To converse, people must generate and understand language in real time, take turns in rapid sequence, infer what their interlocutors know and want to know, and remember what has been said and what has not been said. Conversation is a set of complex tasks that seem simple,” the study authors write.
Putting an end to a talk is one of the most complex tasks in a talk, the researchers confirm. In their experiments, they found that many conversations end thanks to external circumstances: a person who arrives, an elevator to take or a bus that leaves… In most cases, the person who starts the conversation is also the one who ends it. Psychologists, linguists, and communication scholars have described these closing rituals. From courtesy formulas such as “A pleasure, as always” or “I’ve loved talking to you” to more or less subtle transitions such as “Well…”, “Come on…” or “Let’s see if we’ll see each other”, but they don’t know when people decide to start them.
The formula of agreeing to a brief but real connection achieves squaring the circle: eliminate friction and enjoy the benefits of talking on the phone. Of course, you would have to notify us beforehand. Telephone conversations in the post-digital age are never improvised.
Just hearing the voice of someone you love is “emotionally regulating,” say the Harvard researchers, and that would be the first benefit of talking on the phone again. Eight minutes would be enough if there is a previous emotional bond that triggers the hormonal reactions that induce well-being.
The researchers wonder how many people feel lonely because they can’t hang up a call in time. “Social interaction is not a luxury, it is crucial for psychological well-being, physical health and longevity, and conversation is its livelihood. Mastering the art of conversing – when to start, when to end, how it works, when it bores and when it disappoints – will allow us to maximize its benefits”, they add.
“Only 7% of communicative effectiveness is in words, the rest is in paraverbal and non-verbal communication, including postures, gestures, looks, and even smells, and it is true that with asynchronous communication certain social skills are lost, such as spontaneity or naturalness”, explains Fernandez. In his opinion, anyone who does not have properly trained skills will feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, and, above all, will be ineffective in conversation.
Between WhatsApp and the audios, we are forgetting what it was like to respond without filters and in real time without causing great drama.
You can follow THE COUNTRY Health and Well-being in Facebook, Twitter and instagram.
Source: EL PAIS