Quality Conversation Can Increase Daily Well-Being?
By Jeffrey A. Hall, Amanda J. Holmstrom, COMMUNICATION RESEARCH, January 27, 2023
New research published in the journal Communication Research indicates that conversing with a friend just once during the day to catch up, joke around or tell them you’re thinking of them can increase your happiness and lower your stress level by day’s end.
The researchers focused on seven types of communication that have been shown in past research to make people feel more bonded through conversation. These seven are:
1. Catching up
2. Meaningful talk
3. Joking around
4. Showing care
6. Valuing others and their opinions, and
7. Offering sincere compliments.
Over 900 study participants from five university campuses were directed to engage in one of the seven communication behaviors on a single day, and then they reported back each night about their feelings of stress, connection, anxiety, well-being, loneliness and the quality of their day.
As it turned out, it didn’t matter which of these quality conversations someone had. The very act of intentionally reaching out to a friend in one of these ways was what mattered most.
This study found that one conversation per day is enough, but more is better. Participants who chose to have more quality conversations had better days.
This means the more that you listen to your friends, the more that you show care, and the more that you take time to value others’ opinions, the better you feel at the end of the day.
This study suggests that anyone who makes time for high-quality conversations can improve their well-being. That is, we can change how we feel on any given day through communication. Just once is all it takes.
Notably, the study found high quality face-to face communication was more closely associated with well-being than electronic or social media contact. If at least one of their quality conversations was face-to-face, that mattered.
Why does this work? Across the three studies, quality conversation mattered most for connection and stress. This supports the idea that we use communication to get our need to belong met, and, in doing so, it helps us manage our stress.