The power of the casual check in “Hi how are you, just wanted to say hi. Happy Wednesday!” has profound positive impact on our friends, more than we think new research finds.
Calling, texting or emailing a friend just to say “hello” might seem like an insignificant gesture — that isn’t worth the effort. Or maybe you worry an unexpected check-in wouldn’t be welcome especially given how busy we all are. But new research suggests that casually reaching out to people in our social circle means more than we think.
About the research
Dr. Peggy Liu, an associate professor of business administration with the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business was the lead author of a new study which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology — it found that people tend to underestimate how much friends like hearing from them.
She and her team ran a series of 13 experiments, involving more than 5,900 participants to get a sense of how good people are at guessing how much friends value being reached out to, and to also find out what types of interactions are the most powerful.
In some of the experiments, participants reached out to a friend with a simple message; in others, they got in touch with someone they were friendly with but considered a casual friend.
Dr. Liu and her fellow researchers kept the bar for what counted as reaching out intentionally low: a brief call, text or email, or a small gift, like cookies or a plant.
Those who reached out were asked to rate how appreciative, happy, or pleased they thought their friend would be to hear from them — the ratings ranged from not at all appreciative – to very much.
The researchers then asked those on the receiving end of the check-in to rate how much they appreciated the message they received.
13 experiments among 5,900 participants – same result. We all want to feel connected
Across all 13 experiments, what they found is that those who initiated contact and reached out to their friends significantly underestimated how much it was appreciated by the receiver.
The more surprising check-ins (from those who hadn’t been in contact recently) tended to be even more powerful.
“Even sending a brief message reaching out to check in on someone, just to say ‘Hi,’ that you are thinking of them, and to ask how they’re doing can be appreciated more than people think.” Peggy Liu
Positive Social Interactions are linked to purposefulness in life
Another study, published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, found that having positive social interactions are linked with a sense of purpose in older adults.
We think our friends and acquaintances don’t want to be bothered – that’s not the case
People tend to assume our friends and acquaintances won’t be as open to us reaching out as we’d like, especially with our busy schedules. But new research encourages people to see friendship as an important component of personal health.
According to Marisa Franco, a psychologist and assistant clinical professor at the University of Maryland and author of the forthcoming book “Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make and Keep Friends” – noted …
Two things that hold people back from reaching out to friends.
- The Liking Gap: The first phenomenon is called the “liking gap”. This is the notion that many people feel awkward about reaching out because we underestimate how well-liked we really are; which then lead to us holding back.
2. The Beautiful Mess Effect: The second phenomenon is called the “beautiful mess effect.” This is the notion that we hold ourselves back from sharing details of our lives because we think that when we are vulnerable with others, we worry we will be judged harshly.
The new findings prove that we all have the need to stay connected more often
“To be functioning at our best, we need to be in a connected state. Just like you need to eat, and drink, you need to be connected to be functioning well.” Marissa Franco assistant clinical professor at the University of Maryland
The new research shows how much friends and family appreciate being reached out to even for a casual hello, and there is a need to stay connected with others more often than we think.
Here are samples of my interactions 💕
Honestly in my case even sharing a photo of a flower from my garden gets a positive response in return. The texts are not overly long, just a quick text to say hi I’m thinking of you. We are all busy I know, so I keep it short and then plan on a longer conversation when we’re both free.
Me: “Hello!! How are you? Haven’t heard from you in a while, how are you doing? Thought I would drop a note to say hi.”
Friend: “Hi Kalpana May You live to be 100! You you have always been on my mind But been very busy. today I was thinking about you a lot ❤️ ”
“Hi Kalpana. How are you? Keeping cool I hope, its so hot😊 “
Me: “Hi ! Great to hear from you! How are you?“
Me: “Hi I hope you’re week is going well!”
“Thanks Kalpana, loving this weather! Been thinking of you, too. You’re working in the garden I’m sure with our cooler weather.”
“Hi Dolly Today’s bloom.”
I visited a friends place.
They have this plant
I immediately thought of you❤️”
Me – “Looks so unique. Thanks for sharing. How are you doing?”
“Doing okay Kalpana. Thanks”
Friend: Sunset tonight😍
Hope you’re having a great weekend!🥰
Me: “Beautiful! 🥰 “
Friend “Sunset pictures from last night.“
Me: “Wow! Spectacular!!”
Email, text, or a quick voicemail – text your friends .
They will appreciate it more than you think. 💕💙