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Blog #82 Synchronous vs. Asynchronous , Texting and Twitter; The Death of Communication.

Talk to each other

For those who follow this blog, you will likely note some similarities to what you’re about to read with what you have read in prior posts. There was “Blog #60 – Ear to Ear, It Was Only a Matter of Time”, and there was “Blog #70 – A message from Alexander Graham Bell; thank you Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Page, and all the others that have made this possible”, both of which touched on the relationship between technology and communicating in the business to business world. But as for today’s ramblings, I would like to address the subject from a slightly different angle.

A little over a year ago, I was retained to evaluate, recommend, and implement probable structural changes to a client’s sales organization. Some months into the project, having completed the evaluation and recommendation phase, I was then involved in the execution of the proposed plan, the plan that had been approved by the client. As a part of the assignment, I was acting as the de facto “head of sales” until the proposed structure was up and embedded into the business and a new manager had been identified and recruited.

One day not far into the process, I received an email from one of the sales people asking what I thought was a not very well thought out question. My response didn’t answer the question directly, but rather suggested she approach the question from a different perspective, a perspective that I believed once digested would help her in similar future circumstances. I had intended my response as a learning tool; a catalyst to help this person engage in a thought process that she had yet to discover. My goal was to help make her a better sales professional.

Unfortunately, my email was perhaps a little too nuanced, and she took it as an admonishment, a response she clearly didn’t think she deserved; a response she clearly didn’t think was my place to deliver.

Her reaction was to declare her ire to my client directly, who having read the email himself, shared her viewpoint, even though his context was limited to this one email, even though he hadn’t been privy to discussions that led up to my response. The result, my client sent me a scathing email expressing his rebuke and in no uncertain terms let me know that he was not happy with my approach. Had I picked up the phone, none of this would have ever happened.

The truth is, I never intended for there to be an “edge” to my response, but it didn’t matter because that was how it became interpreted.

Synchronous communications happen with all participants in the present. Synchronous communications tend to be traditional voice-based conversations. They can be conducted in person, or over the phone, but they require a live and active medium.

Asynchronous communications do not occur in the same time or moment, and they don’t include any of the benefits of actually talking to someone. They are often emails, text messages, or even messages delivered through multiple communication channels, but as we all know, they can often be prone to misinterpretation.

Effective communication is seldom unidimensional. Communication is generally more effective when multiple dynamics are involved beyond just that of the written word. Talking combines other and often more important dynamics such as cadence, pitch, or semantics to name a few. Text alone, at best, is limited, and at its worst, susceptible to dangerous translation.

Emotion, which is an essential component in most successful communication, is a hugely difficult dynamic to convey through a hastily composed dispatch. Talking to someone while in their physical presence takes this concept to its zenith.

Why; because in addition to all of the above, you now have body language. You have posture, you have facial expression both intended, and not. There’s a connection achieved that transcends what only words on a screen can express.

Delivering content alone will never play as big a role in effective communication as the environment in which it is delivered, because it is the environment that provides the rest of the message.

If your message is important, if your point or position on a subject needs to be understood in its entirety, then don’t make the same mistake I did. Instead, pick up the phone, or go and meet with someone.
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  1. Hi David, please add me to your distribution list. Looking forward to new blogs. Thanks!

    • Mary-Beth. I need your full name to add you to my distribution list.

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