Can an 8 minute phone call change our day?
Can connecting with someone for 8 minutes increase our sense of feeling loved and belonging?
Can we change someone else's day by giving them 8 minutes of our time?
Isn't is worth a try?
In 1943 Maslow published the article of his career - on his research of human motivation - he developed the well known theory culminating in the "Hierarchy of Needs" . Maslow proposed that the fundamental needs of all people are basically the same. The fundamental concept remains to this day - the basic unconscious desires of all human beings are similar despite there being conscious differences (Maslow, 1943). This model has been broadly accepted as accurate since this time.
In summary, his model indicates that the most basic of all human needs is biological and physiological, followed by safety - after that - the next most important need for human survival and flourishing is LOVE AND BELONGING - (see below infographic of Maslow's Hierarchy).
So - for 80 years, the importance of human needs has been clear (Tay and Diener, 2011). Humans are neurobiologically wired for connection - Love and Belonging are so integral to us, that the need sits just above our need for safety. We NEED support, acceptance and love from others to survive - the absence of this connection leads to a decrease in mental health and can ultimately result in clinical depression. The research strongly supports this - and we saw this in action during the pandemic. People being isolated and without connection led to a huge spike in mental health issues across the country. We also know that injury, illness and disability leads to increased isolation and disconnection - so - are there any obvious ways to try and contribute to an improvement in this situation?
There are many movements out there to try and decrease loneliness and isolation for people - to increase our connection with others - in our frantic busy lives, where time on social media seems to take over for many us, and our personal circumstances can see us feeling alone and disconnected - we can tend to let our connections slip by.
I was drawn to an article by Jancee Dunn in the New York Times where she proposes using the "8 minute" phone call to restore connections.
She proposes the Following:
"Today your goal is to think of a person you love: someone you miss, someone you wish you connected with more often.
Send that person a quick text asking if they can chat on the phone for eight minutes — ideally today, but if not, schedule it for sometime this week. You can even copy and paste the following:
Hi! I read this in The New York Times and it made me think of you. Want to schedule an eight-minute phone call this week?"
Hearing the sound of someone' s voice is " emotionally regulating", so an 8 minute phone call can make all the difference to how someone is feeling. For this to work well, the conversation needs to have an agreement to a definite ending at 8 minutes - so people don't feel hesitant to agree to an 8 minute call - we can all spare 8 minutes if we try - but if we think the call might last 30, or that someone will dismiss us in 2 minutes, then hesitance to participate will definitely increase. You can always make an agreement to a longer call at another time, or another 8 minute call in the near future.
Research has shown that receiving brief phone calls a few times a week, was able to reduce people's levels of anxiety and depression (Kahlon et al, 2021). Think about how this could be also used in the disability sector - reach out to someone you know is feeling isolated or alone - and give them 8 minutes of your time. Is one of your clients feeling in need of some human connection? Its powerful to know that you could change someone's day by reaching out to them.
So why not try it? Reach out to someone you know, or someone you work with - Try an 8 Minute phone call and see if it helps! Give someone the value of connecting with you for 8 minutes! You are worth it - and so are they!
Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(1), 370-396
Tay, L., & Diener, E. (2011). Needs and subjective well-being around the world. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(2), 354-365
Effect of Layperson-Delivered, Empathy-Focused Program of Telephone Calls on Loneliness, Depression, and Anxiety Among Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic. A Randomized Clinical Trial. Maninder K. Kahlon, PhD1; et al , JAMA Psychiatry. 2021;78(6):616-622. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.0113