This Less-Than-a-Minute Action Can Make a Big Difference

3 min read
Source: sturti/Getty

The check-in is a very brief message to your friend, significant other, family member, or whomever else you are close to simply tell that person that he or she is on your mind.

Source: sturti/Getty

What if there were something that you could do that takes less than a minute but could make a big positive difference in the quality and strength of your relationship—any kind of relationship that you value, whether with a friend, a significant other, a family member, or anyone else you consider close. Doing it is really quite simple and doesn’t involve much effort. Yet many people may not do this something nearly enough.

It’s the check-in, a very brief message to simply tell a person that they are on your mind. This can be a smartphone text message, a messenger app snippet, or a voicemail that says something like, “How are you doing”, “I am thinking of you”, “I am here for you”, “Good luck on such-and-such”, or “I’m so glad that you’re my such-and-such,” depending on the nature of your relationship.

This very simple gesture can go a long way. I will send such messages to my friends out of the blue. It’s easy to do so when you are waiting in line at the coffee shop for your pumpkin spice venti gigante, riding on the train, going for a walk, or taking any kind of break. It really doesn’t take too much out of your oh-so-precious social media scrolling time.

Don’t underestimate how meaningful it can be to receive such a simple message, especially when you are experiencing a particularly challenging day or facing a crucial decision. Knowing that someone is thinking about you can bring extra energy into whatever you are doing. It can even be the nudge that helps you go in the right direction.

Besides random check-ins, I tend to send check-ins the day after I’ve had some kind of a deeper conversation with someone. Whether that person needed advice, wanted to vent, or was simply revealing more of himself or herself, a deeper conversation can leave people feeling a little more vulnerable and subject to judgment. My quick check-in message the next day is an assurance that I didn’t pass negative judgment and that I value and appreciate the person even more for sharing what they did. This, in turn, can really strengthen the relationship by further encouraging such sharing. Even random check-ins are assurance that the relationship is not purely transactional. It in essence announces that I don’t have to have a “reason” to make contact.

In addition to being a helpful gesture in and of itself, a check-in can also provide an opening just in case you would like to talk further. It offers an excuse to drop that must-remain-tough veneer and open up.

There’s little harm ord cost to sending such messages, unless you are subject to messaging rates. Maybe you have one less minute to watch the latest Kardashian news. At the same time, the potential upside is pretty darn high. You never know what the other person may be experiencing at a given moment and what positive difference a simple check-in can make. And you never know what kind of positive boxes that simple check-in may end up checking for that person and your relationship with each other.

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