The coronavirus epidemic and its resulting country-wide lockdowns have caused millions of people to stay within the premises of their homes to help social distancing. All this social and physical isolation has left many people unable to physically see and touch their friends and family, bringing up issues of loneliness. And these may have profound effects on a person's mental health, as well as their interpersonal relationships.
In a recent report of BBC News, relationship experts provided tips on how to build a stronger connection and relationships with others through findings formulated from different studies during the ongoing pandemic. Here are the things you can do to build a better relationship with your friends, family, and your partner.
Experts provide tips on how to strengthen relationships during the pandemic
In the BBC News report, experts revealed that for people who miss interacting with their friends and loved ones during the pandemic, many of them make use of teleconference applications to do video calls. However, a study published by APA PsycNET suggested that people have a better chance of detecting the emotions of someone else without any visual clues
According to the conducted study by an American psychologist Michael Kraus, verbal or voice-only communication increases the empathic accuracy over communication across other senses. The study theorized that people convey their internal states and feelings intentionally through voice, which allows them to focus their attention on the most active and accurate channel of communication in expressing their emotions to people.
Hacks on how to maintain a strong relationship and build a stronger one from the study were formulated by Christian Van Nieuweburgh, a psychology professor of the University of East London, and David Eagleman, a US-based neuroscientist. The following are their suggestions:
- Equal Airtime: The experts revealed that it is important to make sure that time is equally shared between both parties when conducting a chat or call. Even if the conversion takes 30 minutes, there's no value in it if only one person does the talking the whole time.
- Listen Deeply: Deep listening involves giving all the attention to the one talking, showing curiosity without judgment to their words--including emotions, and the hidden messages they convey. The act of summarizing the statement said in the conversation will enable the other person to feel truly understood.
- Power of Silence: Being silent on a call can be hard as it can be seen as a sign that the line has disconnected. However, experts say that silence can also give way for people to feel closer to each other. Silence can give the speakers time to develop richer and more creative thoughts, later allowing them to properly communicate what they really want to say.
On the other hand, Carey Jewitt, a professor of technology and communication of the University College London, stated in the report of BBC News that the lack of touch during online conversation presents the hardest challenge.
"Touch is our first sense, we feel it in the womb and it's key to giving and receiving information and to help us bond," said Carey.
The team of Professor Jewitt is finding ways on how people can still virtually touch through pressure and heat vibrations to another individual from their wearable devices. The team of researchers developed inflatable jackets that give individuals a sense of being held when their partner sends a message.
"Even though it is a machine squeezing me, I think of you as hugging me." said one of the participants who used the jacket.