Two Styles

November 09, 2018

In organizations there are two types of communication that people can engage in: synchronous and asynchronous. I find synchronous communication to be best for trying to get agreement or dig into beefy topics. Asynchronous communication can often work for everything else. However the challenge with asynchronous communication is it is easily ignored. This leads to needing synchronous communication for things that would otherwise work asynchronously. Since synchronous communication is massively more expensive, this slows down progress.

Unfortunately the asynchronous communication style will rarely be effective with people who are only used to synchronous communication. This can lead to two issues. The first is that asynchronous communicators can fail to engage folks who desire synchronous communication. The asynchronous folks might be viewed as distant or aloof. Second, the asynchronous folks might be view synchronous folks in the same way. You can quickly see how translation is hard.

The solution to succeed is to help everyone learn to be effective in both modes. There are advantages and disadvantages to both styles, but you should not limit yourself to carrying the burden of adapting. If a a team is to grow and succeed it needs to proficient and effective in both styles. A person who is proficient at both of these methods can serve as a translator between the two types of people. They will also be more effective in working with a larger variety of people.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.