As part of the Christmas campaign "How are you?", Hrvatski Telekom conducted a national survey on communication habits and how much we are in contact with people close to us. Part of the presentation of the results was a panel discussion on the topic "HOW ARE YOU? it's not just an ordinary question" with the participation of renowned experts: Prof. Nataša Jokić-Begić, Ph.D. from the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb, Tanja Sever from Sever Psychology Center, and Prof. Neven Ricijaš, Ph.D. from the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation of the University of Zagreb. They spoke from an expert point of view about the importance of honest and open communication and supporting loved ones as one of the critical prerequisites for happiness. They talked about how to deal with problems, stress, and loneliness, what we can do to make ourselves and others feel better, and how a short call and conversation can make a big difference.
For the majority, the holiday atmosphere is the "most beautiful time of the year", and the time for family gatherings and socializing with friends and relatives. It is not surprising that a third of respondents communicate more with family and friends during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Despite this, there are still many who feel lonely. This is confirmed by the extremely high number of 50 percent of respondents who want to be asked more often and honestly how they are doing.
When looking at general satisfaction with life, half of the respondents are satisfied with it, (57 percent) express dissatisfaction with life, (54 percent) with physical and (45 percent) with mental health.
According to the survey, communication and the availability of loved ones to talk to is extremely important for overall life satisfaction. Thus, 90 percent of respondents stated they have someone they can turn to for support (most frequently, spouses – 62 percent, friends – 52 percent, or parents – 32 percent). However, at the same time, the concerning fact is that as much as ten percent of respondents do not have the support of a close person to whom they could turn for support in important or difficult life situations.
Logically, we have the strongest ties and the most frequent communication with those with whom we are physically surrounded daily, namely family members and work colleagues. We communicate much less with family and friends we do not see as often. With family members with whom we do not live, we communicate more weekly (45 percent) than daily (28 percent), while 47 percent of respondents communicate with close friends weekly and 27 percent once a month.
"With the 'How are you?' program and campaign, we want to draw attention to how a simple question and an expression of sincere interest can make someone's day. Traditionally reserved for family and loved ones, the holiday season is the right, but by no means the only time to get involved in this matter because it is always the right time to take care of others. This Christmas, but also in general, we want to encourage everyone, starting with ourselves, to get more involved, not tomorrow but now. Ideally, through physical/personal contact, which nothing can replace, but thanks to technology, a call or video call are welcome alternatives. This was the driving force behind our campaign and survey. We are happy that our panelists today recognized the program. They have a lot to say on this topic and share good advice", said Igor Vukasović, Director of Corporate Communications at Hrvatski Telekom.
According to the survey, calls and digital communication channels are becoming more important in maintaining ties with loved ones. For respondents, a phone call is the most important way to maintain connections with family members with whom they do not live (38 percent), while 28 percent of respondents use digital apps such as WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Messenger for this. When it comes to maintaining connections between friends, the use of apps is increasing, so 47 percent of respondents primarily communicate with close friends in this way, while only 18 percent of them make phone calls at the same time. As many as 52 percent of respondents said they communicate with acquaintances through apps.
"Online communication has many advantages but also risks. For mental health and what we call today 'digital well-being', it is necessary to understand these advantages and disadvantages, act accordingly, and have the right expectations. Online communication is excellent for sharing information and influencing a momentary, short-term mood. And as a rule, its range should be kept there," said Neven Ricijaš, Ph.D., Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation, University of Zagreb.
"Technology can be a bridge between generations, but there should be as much live communication as possible. Children should be allowed to stay in relationships, even if those relationships bring negative emotions", is the message of Prof. Tanja Sever from the Sever Psychological Center.
"Don't strive for perfection this holiday season, but for a sense of closeness. Ask your loved ones, "How are you?" and listen to what they say and take the opportunity to tell someone sincerely "How you are". This does not mean only pleasant interactions, it is also okay to argue, but if this is followed by reconciliation, both will help in the development of closeness", said Prof. Nataša Jokić-Begić, Ph.D., from the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb.
Together with the Association kako si?, a non-profit organization whose goal is to empower the public to face various everyday difficulties, Hrvatski Telekom has made a series of 15 videos that will cover topics such as burnout, loneliness, etc., to draw attention to these important, and often neglected matters. Videos are available on Hrvatski Telekom's YouTube channel.
The survey was conducted all over Croatia on a representative sample of the online population with respondents between the ages of 16 and 65.