The morning after Memorial Day, I woke up to loud drilling outside and found myself blocked from leaving. My plan to drive out of town to visit a loved one was foiled. There were markings on the sidewalk but no clear sign for when roadwork would start and end. I was disappointed and struggled to decide whether to stay or go. By the end of the day, there was still quite a bit of work left, so I stayed in town for self-care and planned to connect by phone or video.
Certainly, connecting with loved ones by phone or video is not the same as visiting them in person, but calls don’t have to be monotonous — especially if replacing a visit. This roadblock got me thinking about the quality of our calls. How long, how often, and how regularly do we talk? Are we engaged or do we go through the motions? Do we help each other in some way? Do we do other things besides talk? How do we feel at the end of calls? We came up with seven tips and ideas for making calls count, and here they are.
1. Plan Ahead
Find out when the best time to talk is. Set aside at least 30 to 60 minutes per call. Take a few minutes to jot down what to share and ask. Consider sending a text message to remind them that you will be calling soon.
2. Be in the Moment
Try to give your loved one your undivided attention and not think about the past or future. Let them talk and express themselves, listen, and enjoy the time that you are spending together now.
Update them on what you’ve been up to. Tell a story about something that happened; show a project that you’ve been working on. Move around with your device and give them a view or tour, or send pictures. Try not to take up every call, venting about frustrations.
Fix or suggest solutions for issues. Walk them through technical difficulties. Find videos for troubleshooting. Listen for advice or words of wisdom.
5. Do Something Together
In addition to talking, do one of these activities — on the same call or a separate one. For fun, send an invitation, set a date, and schedule a reminder.
- Have a morning coffee or an afternoon tea.
- Read the newspaper and the comics.
- Do a crossword puzzle or play a game.
- Prep some foods for meals.
- Eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
- Cross-stitch, knit, or make jewelry.
- Exercise or meditate to an online fitness video.
- Sing karaoke or to an online music video with lyrics.
- Read jokes or quotes; say an affirmation or prayer.
- Watch a television show before bedtime.
Ask them if there is anything they need or want and how you can help.
7. End on a Good Note
Aim to make your loved one feel fulfilled. Sum up the call. Hold them to any declared plans and follow up. Send text messages or GIFs between calls.
How about you? What are your thoughts on connecting with loved ones by phone or video? Please comment and share the love below.