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Asynchronous Communication Vs Synchronous Communication

I find asynchronous communication can be highly effective.
Lucio seems to like it as well.

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on February 5, 2021, 2:20 am from Strategies Through Getting Through Bad Days
  • Go for asynchronous communication whenever possible

This one is a little gem, since asynchronous empowers you to better manage your time.

I embedded asynchronous in my life, partly as my lifestyle leads to it, and partly because of active choice.

My phone number changes all the time, nobody shows up announced at my door, no colleague stops by when I'm working since I ain't got any :), and my WhatsApp calls are on mute most of the time.
That means, that almost all my communication is asynchronous, allowing me full freedom to move those communication channels around as needed.

Some successful business leaders say that they prefer asynchronous communication over synchronous communication.

Jeff Bezos, Mark Cuban and Elon Musk avoid this productivity killer—and you should too

When Do I Think Asynchronous Communication Works Well?

  • Both Parties Are Great Communicators and Are Disciplined

I realised asynchronous communication often falls off because one person is not putting in the effort in communicating and typing out sufficient context for the other person to understand. Great conversations and interpretations can happen from asynchronous communication. This forum has been built upon asynchronous communication. So has StackOverflow.

This is a huge one. I realised meetings are inefficient and unproductive because people don't want to do the work upfront and prepare for a discussion. They end up doing some of the work during the meetings rather than spending the meeting to discuss, align, decide and assign tasks.

Forcing yourself to communicate well asynchronously and deliberately can save this time wastage and all the chit-chat.

  • Non-Emotional Discussions

More logical discussions with fewer emotions are easier to have over text or email.

  • Discussing Topics With Fewer Confounding Variables

People tend to get confused over asynchronous communication when we talk about topics requiring many confounding variables.
That being said, I think we have realised how to do this well on this forum.
We are disciplined upon staying on topics and open up new threads whenever we find another interesting direction to discuss.

This is the main problem of WhatsApp groups.
Emails are awesome in terms of topical nature.
Maybe we should have a messaging system on this.
Slack tries to promote this, but the channels are not granular enough.
And the side comments are not very effective in my opinion in terms of user experience.

  • Handling power differentials: if someone is more experienced than you in a topic, asynchronous communication helps you to use the extra time to think and make up for the skill differential or power dynamics skill gap

For example, if you were negotiating in a sector where you have less experience, I believe it's better to go asynchronous.
You may need time to think about what the other proposes and do some research.

Or if you think the other person is a nasty but savvy negotiator, I would go for asynchronous communication as well.
You get to pause and evaluate whether he is playing games.

  • Freedom. You can have fun and have a serious discussion at the same time. Who says you cannot give valuable inputs when you are lying down on the beach?

This is huge! Sometimes our best work is not done in the office environment.
We need time to go to other places and recharge.
Even working and changing environment can remove the burnout effect.

For me, I have no problem "working long hours" when hopping around cafes.
It does not seem like "long hours" when I am changing environments quite often.

  • Promotes Deep Work

You can craft out a stretch of time to just focus singularly on a task.
And you can set aside time just for emails.
It helps a lot for getting things done.
This is probably one of the biggest benefits and my favourite point.

When is Synchronous Communication Better? Like Phone Calls and Face-to-Face Conversations

  • Conflicts That Does Not Progress

I think we can certainly resolve conflicts asynchronously now that we have sharpened our power dynamics skills and people skills over here.
That being said, sometimes we will have trouble moving the discussion forward and face unproductive conflicts.
Sometimes a phone call can really help to iron things out.
Face-to-face could be even better.

  • Romance

Romance is best in person :).
Personal Opinion.

  • Early Founding Teams with 3 or more people

In my opinion, I think with great communication and discipline, you can build a company with a remote founding team.
It requires strong leadership from at least 1 person.
You need to split areas of responsibilities clearly.
You need high-quality people who value moving things forward more than any other thing.
Humility from all parties and a willingness to understand one another help a lot too.

For all other less-than-ideal team dynamics, I think synchronous communication will help a lot.
People tend to build greater relationships and understand one another when they are in the same place physically.
You don't need to be so deliberate in communication. (actually, you do; people underestimate how important deliberate communication is)

  • Building rapport with a new person

I find building rapport with a new person is always better with synchronous communication.
Though it is certainly possible asynchronously though it takes a longer time like on this forum.

  • Anything Highly Emotional

Anything highly emotional that requires you to read the other person's tone and body language would be better with synchronous communication.
Actually, it's becoming possible asynchronously if you do video recordings and audio recordings and send them over.
But people tend to find recordings less natural.

  • Spontaneous exchange of ideas from people of different backgrounds and across cross-functional teams

There were office designs that forced people to interact with one another from different backgrounds.
The result was interesting cross-pollination and innovative ideas.
It is much more challenging to do this asynchronously.

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