Savoring Communication: What It Is, Why It Matters
“I’ve always believed in savoring the moments. In the end, they are the only things we’ll have.” – Anna Godbersen
New research from the University of Arizona demonstrates how we tend to savor certain specific types of meaningful conversations. Intrigued by the research that builds on evidence from the field of positive psychology that savoring can enhance well-being, relationships and overall quality of life, I spoke with the author, Maggie Pitts, associate professor in the communication department in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona. Pitts studies the concept of savoring in human communication. Her paper was published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology.
What is savoring communication?
Savoring is prolonging, extending, and lingering in a positive or pleasant feeling. Savoring communication refers to the capacity and desire to be fully present and absorb what is pleasant and meaningful in a social interaction. Communication savoring happens when we realize something joyful, important, or meaningful is happening in a social interaction with another (or others) and we then try to hold on to and elevate that experience.
We might try to soak in as many details as we can to get the “full flavor” out of the experience or connect our current experience with previous joyful experience to extend the pleasure we feel in the moment. We might even tell others that we are savoring and enhance the moment by bringing them into our savoring with us. We can savor the way somebody says something to us, we can savor what somebody says to us, we can savor what we anticipate someone will say to us, we can even savor through reminiscing about a pleasant, meaningful, or poignant communication encounter.
Can you summarize your research into savoring communication?
The field of positive psychology has really good research on savoring. Much of that research points to the benefits of social savoring in particular, but for the most part only generally nods to social savoring writ large. So, at the very broadest level, what I wanted to study from the perspective of communication science was whether people savor communication specifically, and if so, what is that like. My hope was to get a more nuanced perspective on the social side of savoring, and I did. From that perspective, the biggest takeaway is that people can and do savor communication moments quite readily. They derive much pleasure from them and there is quite a bit of variation in the types of communication moments that people savor.
What are the 7 types of savoring communication?
People tend to savor these different types of communication: