20-minute visit

I’m pretty much always in search of means of connecting with people, and when I heard this one, I knew I had to steal it. You can steal it, too.

It’s a 20-minute visit. A 20-minute phone call. (Phone-phobic people, hold on—hear me out!)

A friend can call and say they’re just calling for a 20-minute chat. 

What’s different about this than other phone calls?

It has a pre-determined time limit. We’re going to talk for 20 minutes, and that’s all. 

Two of the benefits to that are: 

1- You know immediately if you need to wave off the conversation (I don’t have 20 minutes) or can engage and don’t need to set boundaries at the start because they’re already in place (I know this will only be 20 minutes and I can do that right now).

2- Likewise, it’s easier to end the conversation because the time boundary is in place. (I’d not extend this invitation to people who won’t honor that boundary, or rescind it from people who turn out not to.) If you’re like me, it’s easy to let the ends of conversations take five or ten minutes, and it’s also hard to jump in and say, “Hey, I have to get going” and end up spending more time than wanted. This alleviates both problems, at least to a large degree.*

*This is not going to give a person who doesn’t respect boundaries sudden adherence. Unless you tell them you have to go and then hang up. That might. But that’s a whole separate conversation.

A 20-minute visit doesn’t have the weight of “checking in.” At least for me, checking in has a flavor of something is wrong or is potentially wrong and I’m making a connection to see if the person has a need. A 20-minute visit is running into them at the grocery store or Target and having a chat while you’re standing there with your carts.

Everything I am writing about this is, for me, theoretical because I haven’t actually done it yet.

If you’re a person who just doesn’t like talking on the phone at all in any circumstance, then maybe this isn’t for you. (Though if video chat works where phone doesn’t, it would work just as well in that medium.)

If you’re a person who likes to talk to people in a limited circle once the call is in progress but hate the moment of calling and/or answering, this could be a useful tool. A “20-minute visit?” text can establish before the call that the timing is good, relieving anxiety about that piece and making the call not a surprise for either person. And since it’s a visit and not a therapy appointment, it’s likely to be lighter and more connective in that way.

I would expect that a heavy conversation wouldn’t be appropriate for this, because those rarely are contained to 20 minutes. Though maybe that would be a good exercise, too…

Regardless, I love this idea and am looking forward to giving it a try. 

Does it speak to you?

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