Phone Calls May Be The Key To Deeper Connections (& Lessened Loneliness)

It could be said that we are far more connected today than in decades past thanks to the quick and always accessible nature of social media. Many of us consistently chat through various apps with friends and loved ones, possibly not hearing one another's actual voice for days or weeks — which has even led some to develop phone call anxiety. When you have become so used to texting and taking your time to formulate the right response, the idea of talking live on the phone with someone can feel stressful or off-putting. 


But could the loss of phone calls in modern society also be contributing to a loss of true connection? Carrie Sharpe, Communication Consultant, and Speaker explained to Bustle the way written messages often don't come across as the sender intends. "Seeing facial expressions and body language helps us understand the speaker's motivations and intentions," she said. "These nonverbal cues help signal the true meaning behind the words spoken. Voice inflection also helps us understand the true message. Written words, in the form of texting or emails, can be easily misunderstood. These misunderstandings can cause rifts in relationships. Because we cannot see or hear the person speaking, much of the message's meaning can be lost." Let's take a closer look at why phone calls may be the key to deeper connections.


Tone and inflection are lost via text

We've all heard that a fair amount of communication is nonverbal as we read another's facial expressions, body language, and reactions. This is precisely why so much is lost in translation when we text and we're left wondering what in the world they actually meant by that one-word reply. It can be quite maddening trying to decode the intention and emotion behind a text that might read as hostile or aloof but was nothing of the sort.


When you're actually on the phone, there's little guesswork to be done and many miscommunications are avoided. Introverts might be internally reeling here — sometimes it is far easier to say what you actually mean when you have the time to thoughtfully craft an authentic text versus feeling put on the spot during a phone call. And that's truly valid. But there's surely something to be said for the natural back-and-forth we experience when in conversion that just can't always be replicated by typing.

Real conversation changes body chemistry

A lot more is going on during conversation in person or on the phone than we may realize. The cadence of another human's voice can make us feel safe and "regulate the nervous system" (via CNN). When we feel a sense of trust with someone we're on the phone with during an uplifting conversation, the love hormone oxytocin is released and the stress hormone, cortisol goes down. 


We are designed to subtly register trust or the absence of it when we communicate with someone (via Psychology Today). This mechanism can keep us safe and can invite deeper connection, healing feelings of loneliness. If we primarily speak with someone via text or email when getting to know them, it can be difficult to get an accurate rundown of whether or not our nervous system truly feels at ease around their energy or not. This is why it's wise to exercise caution when getting to know someone virtually and always check in with your intuition.

We tend to be more honest over the phone

We may experience more authenticity over the phone versus text and email simply because we're in the moment. There isn't time to ponder and calculate a response, but instead, we're genuinely experiencing in real time what we see, feel, and absorb.


"When emotions, tone, and pace are included in the conversation, people are more likely to be real and be honest. One study found that when people were trying to convince another person to buy something, they lied more often when communicating through texts compared to phone calls. It is easier to lie with the distance and slower reaction times of texts," Dr. Jason Whiting, researcher of deception and conflict in relationships, told Bustle.

This surely doesn't apply across the board, but it could be argued that when we can hide behind the screen, we aren't as likely to be our true, honest selves. When we're in real conversation with someone, being dishonest feels like more of a risk.

Tips for successful phone calls

If you struggle with phone call anxiety, taking a few steps to prepare for the call may help soothe your nerves greatly. While some may prefer spontaneously receiving a call from a friend, others may feel more at ease scheduling an allotted time to chat when you know you'll be free from distractions. Either way, make a few mental notes and envision how you'd like the conversation to go. You'll likely be surprised to find that conversation over the phone allows for more of a free flowing experience than texting. If the phone call feels too intimidating, you could always opt to video chat while you're doing a chore instead, which reels back the pressure a bit.


And if you're talking over the phone with a romantic interest, it's important to take stock of how the person's voice makes you feel. Are you more relaxed as soon as you hear them speak? Excited? This emotional response to the rhythm of someone's voice is something that just can't be experienced through text or email.