Have you ever thought about sending an old friend a text or giving them a call but then decided not to? You may have thought of many reasons to not reach out to them: “They’re probably busy.” “They won’t remember me, anyway.” “Maybe tomorrow.” I know I’ve done it. But a study published by the American Psychological Association changed my mind about the excuses…and maybe it will change your mind as well.
This study included a series of experiments involving over 5,900 participants. The objective was to explore how accurately people estimate another person’s appreciation of an attempt to connect. In one experiment, the participants reached out by email, text, or phone “just because.” In another experiment, participants sent a note or a note and a gift to someone they had not seen in a while. In all the experiments, participants estimated how much the person they reached out to would feel appreciated, grateful, thankful, or pleased by the contact. Then, the recipients were asked to rate how much they actually did feel appreciated, grateful, thankful, or pleased by the contact.
The results suggested that those who initiated the contact consistently underestimated the positive impact their actions would have on the one they reached out to. In other words, the person reached out to felt more appreciated, grateful, thankful, or pleased than the initiator predicted. A couple things come to mind in response to these results.
- A simple text or note to your spouse, child, or parent, no matter how busy they are, will likely be more appreciated than you imagine. In fact, it will probably increase their awareness of how much you care for them. Let them know how much you love them. Reach out to them.
- If you’re missing an “old friend” with whom you lost touch, reach out to them. They will likely appreciate it much more than you imagine.
My fears hold me back from reaching out. Sometimes I disguise my fears as concern for the other person’s busy schedule or their “not wanting to be bothered.” But to be completely honest, it’s my fear that holds me back. This research suggests I’ve been fearful about the wrong thing all these years. I’ve decided to reach out more randomly to my spouse and my children (who have moved away from home). I may even reach out to a few old friends. So, if you’re reading this and you haven’t heard from me in a while, don’t be surprised if you get a random text…unless I get one from you first.