“If there’s someone you’ve been reluctant to contact and you’ve probably lost touch with them, go ahead and contact them and they’ll probably appreciate them more than you think,” Peggy said. Liu, lead author of the study. Liu holds the Ben L. Fryrear Chair in Marketing and Associate Professor of Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business.
The researchers conducted a series of 13 experiments with more than 5,900 participants to see if people could rate how much their friends valued communicating with them and which forms of communication had the most impact. In these experiments, communication was defined as a phone call, text message, email, note, or small gift.
Experiments showed that the initiators significantly reduced the receiver’s response to the check-in.
Miriam Kirmayer, a clinical psychologist and friendship expert, was also not involved in the study.
The study found that the recipient values communication more when it is surprising, for example when it is from someone the recipient has not contacted regularly, or when the participant and the recipient do not consider themselves close friends.
“When you get that sense of positive surprise, it really increases the appreciation you feel,” Liu said.
“These types of small, low-stakes trips can go a long way toward strengthening relationships in the beginning and building and maintaining friendships in the field over time,” says Kirmayer.
Overcome the fear of rejection
Sociologist Anna Akbari said friendships need nurturing. Akbari, who was not involved in the investigation, said a number of uncertainties could prevent us from communicating.
Akbari said a common worry about lending a helping hand is rejection. She added that focusing on the possibility of rejection could deprive yourself of intimate friendships and pleasurable experiences.
Akbari said rejection is impossible to avoid, so learning to live with it can help people become more resilient.
Marisa Franco, a psychologist and associate professor at the University of Maryland and author of the forthcoming book “Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make and Maintain Friends,” was not involved in the study.
She added that this can help counter the assumption that things will go badly if she contacts you.
Use social media as a means of communication
Recent research has not evaluated the effects of communicating on social media platforms, and friendship experts have conflicting opinions about how much social media influences when communicating with an old friend.
For those who aren’t immediately ready to text or call their friends, commenting or replying on social media can be a good place to start, Franco said.
But using social media is not the natural form of communication and can often lead to more superficial conversations, Akbari said.
“We confuse responses to social media posts as personal communications and communications, not private exchanges,” she said.
And while text or email communication isn’t as impersonal as social media, Akbari recommended people reach out to their friends. Picking up the phone and making a call can be confusing, she added, but the connection is probably more real.
She said younger generations are conditioned to communication that doesn’t happen in real time. As a result, they may be concerned about performance when answering the phone.
“Whenever we’re on the phone or face-to-face with someone, we’re having a conversation,” Akbari said. “You can answer. I can say something. There’s no delay in ‘I’ll think about it’ or ‘I’ll phrase it just right’ or ‘I can easily unsubscribe if it gives me the slightest inconvenience.'” “
Take time to evaluate your friendships
Akbari said this new study may help calm the anxiety people experience when it comes to calling friends. She added that since the primary way people communicate is through private means of communication, the worst that can happen is that the recipient does not respond.
“I kind of got your response about how this person treats you,” Akbari said of the lack of response. “You turn your attention to someone else who will be more appreciative, who will respond.”
Friendships can sometimes feel one-sided, Kiermayer said, with someone feeling like they’re doing all they can.
Kirmayer notes that many clients are increasingly concerned that they are carrying a heavy emotional burden when it comes to their friendships. That is not often the case, she added.
“Sometimes we can overestimate how far we’ve come on our own,” she said. “It’s also important to resist it a little, to notice the little moments when our friends connect.”