Reach Out

Reach Out

The data is clear – life happiness is predicated on the depth and health of your relationships. If you’ve wondered how you might turn that knowledge into action, here’s an outstanding first step: reach out to the people you care about. Especially those who you sense might be in a rough patch.

I was recently listening to the Prof G podcast with Scott Galloway and was reminded of the power of making a simple phone call.

After a particularly poor – by his own assessment – TV appearance, Scott was beating himself up only to get a call at 12:45 am from his friend (and the show’s host) Stephanie Ruhle. Despite the late hour and her own life to contend with she called Scott to say, “I got the sense today that you’re not doing well. Are you alright?”

He responded that he was fine; he was jet-lagged and was disappointed in his performance on her show, but that otherwise, he was fine. The whole conversation took two minutes.

Scott immediately felt better and more closely attached to his friend Stephanie. By making the call, she likely wound up feeling good about herself and closer to Scott as well.

Having been on both ends of this phone call I can confirm the benefits. A few months ago I found myself just generally down. Life felt hard and I couldn’t pull myself out of the funk I was in no matter how much I worked out, sat in the sun, or tried to focus on the things I was grateful for in life. 

As if right on cue, one of my best friends from the Navy called me to ask how I was. He said that he’d noticed I seemed down over the last weekend and that he was there to talk if I wanted to talk. It’s easy to be overdramatic about something like this, but it’s hard to overstate what this meant to me.

I hadn’t realized it, but I realized that I’d been in a loop of mild depression and loneliness that just seemed to feed on itself. My friend’s call essentially broke the loop. I remembered that I had friends who cared about me. It gave me the opportunity to talk through my thoughts, unburdening myself from having to contend with my anxieties in the lonely confines of my head. 

I left that conversation with a new perspective and, in hindsight, on a trajectory out of the funk I’d been in for months. I also left that conversation closer to one of my closest buddies and grateful to have friends like him in my corner.

Professor Galloway said it well so I’ll shamelessly repeat his reasons for reaching out to someone who you sense might not be doing well or might be upset:

-   It makes you feel closer to the person that you’re checking in on and vice versa
-   It forces that person to actually check-in to ask, “Am I doing ok?”
-   It reflects confidence
-   It reflects empathy 
-   It expresses concern and care as well as the courage to make the call
-   The fastest way to get someone to care about you is to care about them.

This is an action you can take today to become the friend you’ve always wanted to be. Don’t miss the opportunity. 

Invest in your relationships. The return on investment is outsized.

Be there for your friends when they need it. You help yourself when you help others.

When you get the sense that a friend might not be doing well – reach out and ask.