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Why don’t we talk on the phone anymore? | Health and wellness



Only when we stop doing it does science discover the benefits of talking on the phone. This study from the University of Texas says that listening to a friendly voice creates stronger bonds than sending a text message. The same researchers acknowledge that most of us would rather send a voice or text message than call, yet the connection we seek can be achieved by speaking rather than typing obligatory monosyllables on WhatsApp.

At least two generations of mania for talking on the phone. Rather a simultaneous connection, since we are already sending many audio and audio notes as texts. Synchronous communication is what happens in real time and forces us to have an immediate and accurate response at hand, while another listens to our hesitation or recreates our silence. In asynchronous communication systems, such as voice in WhatsApp or text messages, modification and deletion are possible. In short, controlling the version of ourselves we want to show, but in a real-time conversation everything gives us away. Telemarketers who do telemarketing are advised to speak with a smile. “You can even guess by smiling on the phone,” they are taught in training courses. And who wants this level of transparency and vulnerability in their lives? You can’t leave someone in look in a telephone conversation.

Telefónica Foundation report Spain’s digital society It ensures that, among young people between the ages of 14 and 24, the daily use of instant messaging nearly doubles that of calls. In this age group they interact daily and very frequently, but through Telegram and WhatsApp, the preferred channel of almost 97% of young people in Spain. The report, implemented with data from 2018, also records that 40% of teens between the ages of 14 and 19 communicate from their rooms via video calls, but not with everyone, only with the most intimate, and that does not include parents who, if they dare to make a call video with their children, they are likely to be met with a curt WhatsApp in return: “What do you want?”

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generation thing

I am from the tenth generation [entre 40 y 50 años] And I fully understand the benefits of synchronous calling,” asserts Cristobal Fernández, vice dean of the Faculty of Information Sciences at the Complutense University of Madrid, and adds: “Calls are the model of synchronous communication, but they are completely broken, they don’t necessarily happen in time. Alternatively, asynchronous communication can be set up better. Synchronicity can generate anxiety, even panic in the youngest, who are reluctant to answer a call the moment it comes. Thus, it is increasingly common to hold a mobile phone in silence.

According to the 2022 survey Phone call statistics for the “mute generation” millennials conducted by BankMyCell, 75% of young people (20+ and teens) avoid calls because they take “too much time” and 64% say that in this way they avoid dealing with “noisy and demanding people”. Nearly 80% experience anxiety and anxiety if they have to call, and need a few minutes to get ready.

The survey lists the tactics put in place for not responding. From always keeping the phone on silent (63%) to never having coverage (12%). There are also those who let the phone ring while staring at the screen, and when the caller finally hangs up, they send a strategic message: “Did you call me?” And 88% would prefer to have unlimited data on their phone plans rather than calls that they find “intrusive, annoying and with a high risk of generating verbal confrontation”.

The eight-minute rule

However, another study was published in the journal in 2021 Start showed that during a pandemic, adults who received a short phone call were able to quickly reduce anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness. And to be happier in 2023, New York times Issue a list of challenges, including talking on the phone. The treatment will work if, and only if, the duration of the call is agreed upon in advance: eight minutes. No more, no less. According to the New York Times, the agreement is needed to remove uncertainty and reduce tensions.

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“Talking on the phone again at this point, when we have been able to limit the contact time and gain effectiveness? It seems to me that she wants to open the doors of the field,” says psychologist Isabelle Larrabeauroux. In his opinion, that you now have to ask for permission to call “is a very positive and practical development “Chat calls are sloppy and scary. It is not known how long they will last, unlike the sound you know, even before you listen to it,” he adds.

The idea for the eight-minute approval comes from a 2021 study from the Harvard Department of Psychology that showed that calls rarely ended when both participants wanted to. After analyzing 932 phone conversations, the research team concluded that there was always one person left wanting, while the call to another seemed like an eternity. According to this research, the discrepancy between the actual and the required conversation was equivalent to half of the conversation. The study’s authors assert that hanging up is a “classic coordination problem” that humans, accustomed to setting many final points in their lives, have not been able to solve because, they say, they need the information they need to do so. They usually hide from each other.

Asking permission to contact is “a very positive and practical development”

Isabelle Larrabeauroux, Psychologist

“To speak, people must generate and understand language in real time, taking turns in rapid sequence, inferring what their interlocutors know and want to know, and remember what was said and what was not said. Conversation is a set of seemingly simple complex tasks,” the study authors wrote.

Researchers have confirmed that putting an end to talking is one of the most complex tasks in speech. In their experiments, they found that many conversations end due to external circumstances: a person arrives, an elevator rides or a bus leaves … In most cases, the person who starts the conversation is also the one who ends it. Psychologists, linguists, and communication scientists have described these closing rites. From courtesy formulas such as “It’s a pleasure, as always” or “I liked talking to you” to more or less subtle transitions like “Well…” or “Come on…” or “Let’s see if we’ll see each other” ‘, but they don’t know when people decide to start it.

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Never impromptu

The formula for agreeing to a brief but genuine call squares the circle: eliminate friction and enjoy the benefits of talking on the phone. Of course, you must notify us in advance. Phone conversations in this post-digital age have never been so impromptu.

Just hearing the voice of someone you love “regulates emotionally,” Harvard researchers say, and that will be the first benefit to talking on the phone again. Eight minutes will suffice if there is a previous emotional connection that stimulates hormonal reactions that stimulate well-being.

Researchers wonder how many people feel lonely because they can’t hang up in time. “Social interaction is not a luxury, it is essential to psychological well-being, physical health, and longevity, and conversation is its sustenance. Mastering the art of conversation—when to start, when to end, how it works, when it bores, when it disappoints—will allow us to maximize its benefits,” they add.

“Only 7% of the effectiveness of communication is in words, the rest is in semi-verbal and non-verbal communication, including postures, gestures, looks and even smells. It is true that with asynchronous communication some social skills are lost, such as spontaneity or naturalness,” explains Fernandez. . In his opinion, a person who does not have properly trained skills will feel uncomfortable, weak and, above all, ineffective in conversation.

Between WhatsApp and voice recordings, we forget what the response was like without filters and in real time without causing too much drama.

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