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When I was in my early 20’s I was afraid of contacting people if I didn’t have a specific reason to do so.
When I was on the phone with friends and acquaintances, I didn’t want anyone to be bored or annoyed so I always tried to keep it short. Especially, I was afraid it would get awkward. So I stuck strictly to the topic and ended the call as soon as possible.
Why some are just annoying when they contact you without a reason
There was this one guy in my social circle. He would call me to talk about his ideas and personal problems. He could go on forever about it.
At first, I thought it was kind of interesting to listen to him. But eventually, I noticed that he wasn’t really interested in what I was up to or what I was thinking. He never asked me how I was doing.
It was always about him and his thoughts.
Even if he was a nice guy at heart, I started to avoid his calls.
Then I met my friend Oscar – he was GREAT at keeping in touch
He sometimes called me for no reason other than to talk. At first, this made me quite uncomfortable.
I always tried my best to come up with something to talk about to avoid awkward silence. When I couldn’t, I tried to end the call prematurely.
I didn’t want him to feel bored or annoyed that I couldn’t come up with anything interesting to say.
I gradually got more comfortable. We could sometimes talk for over 3 hours.
I started to understand that you don’t need to stick to any special reason or task when talking with friends on the phone. (It can even be easier to open up over the phone than in real life.)
The funny thing is, this insight made me notice that almost all of my other friends were just as uncomfortable with long phone conversations as I was before.
Most of us are afraid to keep in touch without a “reason”. But staying in touch is something we need to get to know people! This fear stops us from having close relationships.
If we do it wrong, we come off as weird and annoying.
What my friend Oscar does differently
When Oscar called me, he let me know that he just wanted to check in.
“Hey Viktor. I called just to say hello and see how you’re doing.”
That made it clear he didn’t have any hidden reasons for calling, like asking for a favor or wanting to meet up.
He then made sure that I wasn’t busy.
“Are you into something or are you free to talk? I can call later if you’re busy!”
By doing that, he showed respect.
When the weird guy I mentioned before contacted me, it was a one-sided friendship. It was only about him. Oscar was interested in what I was up to and what happened in my life.
He actually helped me a lot with some personal problems I needed to talk about during that period. We also talked about his personal problems. It was mutual. We both enjoyed our talks.
It felt like Oscar has an “alarm” in his head that beeps when he’s spent too much time in his own world and too little in mine. When that alarm goes off, he says something to balance up the conversation:
“Well, enough about me. How’s it going with your plants? Did those avocados you talked about last time sprout?”
“…so because of that, I would rather live in Los Angeles than Miami. What about you, where would you rather live?”
That’s the difference between an annoying and a good conversation – you want to make it mutual:
People mainly get bored or annoyed when someone’s calling them to talk about things they aren’t that interested in. When you ask genuine questions about them, they’ll find the conversation more valuable.
When it comes to acquaintances and coworkers (that I would like to make closer friends with) I seize the opportunity to bond whenever something comes up that I need to discuss with them.
It could be asking about something they are proficient in. Or, if they want to join me for some group activity.
Then after we’ve taken care of whatever the reason for the call was, I try making some mutual conversation.
Quite quickly, you’ll notice if they add to the conversation and want to talk more. (Unless people are stressed, they are surprisingly interested in talking as long as the conversation is balanced.)
Read more: How to make conversation more interesting.
Have you had any similar experiences with keeping in touch? I’d love to read what you think, comment below!