Using Technology To Nurture Your Friendships
When I was a little girl, I remember my mom would handwrite letters to friends and family.
She would sit down at the table with her pen and legal pad paper, and get to the business of sharing what was going on in her world. Her friends would write back and for a while, this would go on. Surely, she could have grabbed the phone and communicated her thoughts via the airways, but for some reason, it meant more to her to take the time and write a letter. But as we moved more efficiently with telephone communication, my mom wrote fewer letters and picked up the phone more often.
I used to write letters, too, but not as much. Instead, I would call my friends and chat about what was going on in our lives. I relied heavily on phone calls to stay in touch. And now, the phone rings less and beeps a lot more with text and voice messages. It seems like one generation after another loses touch with the previous form of primary communication. And each generation decides on a new method of communication that relies more and more on convenience and technology.
And now the younger generations are calling a lot less and using their fingers to type messages or “voice to text” to send text messages. And maybe writing letters isn’t as efficient as making a phone call, but we’ve gone back in time a bit with our written form of communication, except with a more modern twist. Not everyone is embracing the use of modern technology to communicate. In fact, I have found myself complaining about how shallow connections can feel when communicating primarily through text.
But texting isn’t going anywhere, and oftentimes, we’re all just so busy that making and receiving a call doesn’t seem to happen. So, what’s the alternative? Do we lose all meaningful connection, or is there a way for us to embrace technology within our friendships? Instead of complaining about how you don’t talk to your friends on the phone as much, let’s embrace technology and keep our relationships healthy and strong. I’m going to share with you three ways to use technology to foster deeper connections with your friends. (Some of the suggestions here will need to be modified if you have disabilities).
Text, But With A Twist
I think most of use text messaging on our phones. But do you make it a point to ask more thoughtful questions when you’re texting? Here are a couple suggestions.
Instead of saying, “Hey, how are you today?” Try, “Hey, I’m thinking about you today. Is there anything on your heart you want to talk about?” Or try, “Hi there, what have you been up to today?” “Anything feeling hard or frustrating that you’d want to talk it out?” “Hey there, I remember you told me you had a meeting this morning, how did it go? How did you feel?” “Hey there, it’s been a busy week, but I’ve been meaning to reach out to see if there’s anything I can be encouraging you about right now”? “What are you feeling like celebrating today?”
Also, when replying to texts, instead of replying to the question of, “How are you?” with “I’m doing good, you?” Try, “Today I’m feeling _____.” Be honest and share something you’re working on today, and then ask, “How are you?”
The goal is to ask questions that invite more meaningful conversations.
Use Your Voice
I love sending my friends voice messages using the free app Voxer. It’s like a modern day walkie-talkie. You can send voice, text and video messages. I have friends I send messages to nearly every day and we talk about all sorts of things. A way to use this to build your friendships is to make a point to check in with one another and share what’s going on in your world…not just the highlight reel.
Use Your Calendar
I know you’re busy, so what about scheduling in your chat? Perhaps you schedule a chat once or twice a week at a consistent time. Put it on your calendar and be sure to honor that time. Also consider having virtual lunch dates. You’ve got to eat and if you’re working from home or don’t have anyone to join you in person for lunch, how about a virtual lunch date?
Also consider scheduling an annual friends’ day out. This may be something that includes airfare or just a drive down the road, but make it a point to save-up and schedule that time to connect with one another in person. If you wait for the right time, it’ll be five years and you’ll wonder where the time went.
You can build great friendships with technology; you just have to want to do it. If you have a friendship that is used to an in-person connection or over the phone and something has changed where that isn’t possible, perhaps due to a move or new work schedule, then this is a great time to take advantage of technology to keep that relationship going strong. It is best to have a conversation to explore ways to make technology work for the two of you, so you’re both feeling nurtured in the relationship.
Communication in person is often the best, but is often the most inconvenient with our full and active lifestyles. But inconvenient doesn’t mean not worth it—in fact, often the things we have to go out of our way to pursue end up being the best things for us. If you can make it a point to connect in person then go for it, but the second best is using technology. Whatever you do—don’t give up on connection. We’re made for it.
How do you connect with you friends through technology?
Monique Melton is a believer, wife, and mother of two. She’s a published author, international speaker and relationship coach. Her work is central to loving God and loving people, and encouraging others to do the same. She offers coaching, tools and resources to support women and couples in living their best life. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.