At the end of this lesson, you should be able to create opportunities to connect with others and recognise their different communication styles; and have developed self-awareness of your communication style.
Communicating in Your Own Time
Aynchronous communication is an indirect form of communication where messages are held until the recipient is ready to respond to or act on them, such as discussion forums and email.
The Pros and Cons
- You can join the communication at your convenience.
- Available anytime, anywhere.
- It gives you time to reflect and formulate your thoughts.
- It gives shyer people an opportunity to share which they may not do in a crowd.
- Can incorporate a variety of media, and is suitable for sending statistical data, charts, diagrams, pictures, etc.
- There is a searchable record of what was communicated which can be used for future reference.
- Collaboration can be documented without the need for geographical proximity (cloud technology).
- It reduces ambiguity and can increase accountability.
The bad and the ugly:
- It is time-consuming.
- Written ideas may be misinterpreted, and there is no guarantee of immediate clarification if not understood properly.
- There is a time lag in feedback.
- It can be difficult to keep track of collaboration (email overload).
- Technology can be costly and/or unreliable.
- It can feel less engaging or too drawn-out.
- Irregular or inconsistent contribution by some can affect the richness of the discussion.
- The strict secrecy possible in F2F communication cannot be maintained.
Once Upon a Time
A young graduate was negotiating her job offer at King's College.
Having been extended the offer, she decided to ask for some clarification and ask for some other concessions in an email. She wrote, “I am very enthusiastic about the possibility of coming to King's. Granting some of the following provisions would make my decision easier.”
And she went on to ask for things like increasing the starting salary, a semester of maternity leave, a pre-tenure sabbatical, and so on. She concluded with, “I know that some of these might be easier to grant than others. Let me know what you think.”
That seems like a fairly innocuous approach, right? Wrong! The response that she got was the withdrawing of her job offer.
Although she was not insisting on any of the items, communicating asynchronously meant that she had no way of gauging the response until she had laid out all her cards. Had she done this in person, she would have had feedback along the way and she would have had a clear idea of how the conversation was going.
On the one hand, by using email she may have come across more forcefully than intended. On the other, you can imagine somebody getting it, then forwarding it on but with a message at the top, “Can you believe this?”
Three Ways To Improve Your Asynchronous Communication
1. The top tip for improving your asynchronous communication is to consider your message. Don't use asynchronous communication for sensitive matters. (Always imagine your written communication being forwarded, and how your message could be misconstrued.)
2. Consider your audience. Select which platform to use depending on:
- Their access to the medium.
- The type of information being shared - does it need to be on a large screen or is it legible with their eyes on a smartphone screen?
- The formality (or lack thereof) of the communication. For example, a job application is better sent via email, while banter with your friends is best on WhatsApp.
3. Bear in mind that the permanent nature of written communication means that it can be used as a legal document. Email and text messages are an easy way to communicate and are now almost universal. But however informal they may appear, they can also satisfy the legal requirements and collectively constitute a binding contract.
Take the introspective quiz below.