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Question of the Week - Communicating with Friends

A good friend and I had an interesting discussion about communicating with friends and responsiveness. She has recently made friends with a woman who is really bad about returning calls and never answers her phone. My friend is understanding, because the woman has something like 3 jobs, a demanding husband and 2 kids. But after a while, it gets frustrating. It doesn't sound like the woman is blowing her off, because they get along great when they get together. To me, it just sounds like she is crazy busy and not good at responding/communicating.

I understand that, because I pretty much suck at being responsive in the communication department (especially in the winter). Maybe you noticed my lack of posting this past week or two, for example. With some friends, I do pretty well at keeping in touch with. With others, not so much. I am deeply fond of many people who I do not stay in touch with very well. I've been thinking it must have to do with communication styles.

So today's question of the week is:

How do you stay in touch/communicate with your friends?

Let me just say right off, I LOVE Facebook. It has enabled me to get back in touch with friends I wished I had kept up with, as well as keep up better with my good friends and family. I think why it works so well for me is that it's a very passive, very easy way to stay in touch. One click of the Like button, and my friend knows I've seen their status or picture and have enjoyed it. One sentence in a comment, and I'm interacting with my friend. My goodness, it's easy enough for even me to use regularly!

Blogs are also easy for me. I like to hear about what's going on in my friends' lives and be able to make short comments. Although there are times when I get behind on my blog reading or I'm reading but not commenting. I always catch up, even if I don't always comment.

You'd think I'd be good at emails, since I love to write. But I'm not really. I mean to be, just like I used to mean to be good about writing letters. I'm just not. And phone calls? Well it has to been easy and convienent. My friends who enjoy phone chats around 9 AM and/or 5:30 PM are the ones I talk to the most, thanks to a 30 minute plus commute and a hands-free ear piece. The people I keep in touch with best are those who read my blog and are able to chat on the phone at times convienent to me.

I don't mean to be a bad friend. I'm just... I don't know... lazy? Busy? Somewhat introverted? The friends who've been my friends for a long time are very forgiving of this character flaw of mine. They are okay with going months without hearing from me, and they don't hold it against me. I, apparently, need that kind of leeway. Though I absolutely love to get together for a lunch or a playdate and spend real time with my friends, it seems like we are all so busy these days. And it takes more initiative than I have in the winter time, so I often wait until spring and/or summer to do get togethers.

Luckily, I know this about myself, and I try very hard to account for it in my friendships, especially new ones. I've had friends invite me over and over to do things, when I constantly couldn't do it for one reason or another. I've had friends call me and leave me messages without getting return calls. But I try really hard to acknowledge this with my friends and ask them to keep inviting me places and keep calling. I try to be sure to let them know I'm not blowing them off. I just suck. It's not them, it's me.

What about you? Are you a phone chatter? Do you prefer emails? Are you just great about planning get togethers? How do you keep in touch with your friends? Do you respond right away? What kind of effort do you make to communicate?

Comments

hush said…
I'm generally a phone chatter, but not nearly as much in recent months since I have a toddler who tries to take my phone from me so he can talk to the person. My childless friends really don't think this habit is as cute/clever as I do!

I don't care for email mainly because I'm not a very good writer - too often I come across as snarky or weird or judgy when I honestly don't mean to, so I'm always afraid of offending someone in an email, whereas on the phone I seem to be able to communicate with a lot less misunderstanding. And email is forever, which I don't like at all!

Oh, Facebook! I swear I feel like one of the last holdouts. (Too into my privacy & definitely want to keep the past separate from my present.) Also, I don't need another to-do, though I hear in someways and for some it actually saves them time. Everybody and their mom has been sending me FB requests and reminders to get on the bandwagon already. Maybe I'm missing something...

About your friend maybe not really getting blown off per se (except for those are the *exact* behaviors one engages in when blowing someone off!) - I really think we make time for the people who are most important to us, and actions speak louder than words. There would have to be some pretty darn good history between us for me to keep making the effort to reach out. If this woman were a new friend and we didn't have history, I'd move on from pursuing that friendship, and would let her get back in touch with me whenever she gets it together to do so. But pretty much I would chalk it up to 'she's just not that into you' and would expect never to hear from her again.

You are so right Caramama, we view others' behavior through the lens of how we ourselves choose to interact with people. I am someone who always returns phone calls, even to salespeople, and always within 24 hours, even if simply say "I'm too busy right now to talk but will call you back" or what have you. Old habits from work in a very intense team environment die hard.
paola said…
I am a pretty good communicator if I have encouragement ( ie, my calls/e-mails are returned), but if I find I am the one writing or calling all the time, I start to drop back. This is possibly due to insecurity more than anything as I figure people would make an effort (like me) if they really wanted my friendship, so if they don't, well it's probably becasue I'm probably boring or have said something to offend. I know silly, but that is my first reaction.

My husband is an excellent communicator. In fact he is the one who organises our social life. He will contact people he hasn't heard from for years out of the blue and organise a night out. He doesn't automatically think that someone who doens't get back to him is blowing him off.

I am not on Facebook either. But that is becasue I don't want an extra reason to be lazy with people. I'd rather send real photos of me and the kids or write someone a letter. And I already spend too much time on the internet as it is.
mom2boys said…
I'm not much of a phone chatterer unless I know a person very well and my group of close friends is rather small. Email is easier - Facebook is really easy. I agree that clicking I like or commenting on a new photo is much less time consuming than making a phone call or sending a specific "Hi how are you I know we are both busy but I'd love to catch up soon" email. I think of writing those a lot but rarely do.
Becoming Mommy said…
Im an e-mailer.
The schedule of my friends varies greatly and most do not have kids. Which means when they hear "*crash, bang*...oops, gotta go!" They don't always quite get that it's not a brush off or they don't appreciate my son yelling to ask if it's grandma on the phone from about 6 inches away.

I try to be good about answering. I will also help schedule occasional get togethers, though I'm not as good as I once was. I was the default scheduler before and arranged about 95% of them. Not anymore.
Cloud said…
I'm not on Facebook either, Hush. I haven't figured out my privacy stance yet, so just haven't done it.

I use email and phone calls to keep in touch with friends. Not all of my friends in real life know about my blog, but some do, and so that helps, too.

And for the ones who are local, I try to arrange lunch dates. Lunch during the week is the best time to actually get to talk to my friends without kids distracting. Of course, we do play dates with the friends who have kids, too.
caramama said…
I think hush and paola should both start blogs, too! That would make keeping in touch easier for me. haha!

As for Facebook, I was a hold out until this past winter. Now, I'm a totally convert and SO glad I did it. What finally got me was when my sister told me about the games they have where you can play other people. I seriously love those games.
mom2boys said…
Farmville! Ha. :) I first went on FB because I started graduate school and there was a group page for our class where people would post questions, assignment updates, etc. and it became a good way to get to know the other people in my class. I've caught up with some friends from high school that I wouldn't have otherwise and it is nice to see updates on their kids, lives, etc. I have no interest in tracking down old flames or enemies or any sort of drama like that - and drama doesn't find me either thankfully. As for privacy - I have it all on the most restrictive settings. You can't see anything about me unless you are an actual friend. No friends of friends or general viewing. Everyone I've friended can take anything I've said or any picture I've put up and do what they want with it so there's always that. But I think the benefits outweigh the risks at this point.
Geeks in Rome said…
good question!
I have to say FB saved my life because writing emails just got too crazy. Being long distance from so many people means phone calls are only on the weekend and even then I can only manage one a day because we all know how kids like to cause problems when you get on the phone...

I have one good friend locally who is VERY understanding about our situation. We get together at our house after the kids go to bed and we get take out and hang at the house. It's awesome. She knows I crash around 9pm so she doesn't stay too long.

But basically my friends work around me which is embarassingly ungrateful of me. Lunch time at work is the only time I could carve out for someone and even that is iffy.

I think I've avoided making new friends in this city because I know I can't do quantity anymore and I hate being a bad friend.

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