Asynchronous vs. Real Time Communication

Asynchronous = “Next Best Thing to Being There” — or Is It Better?

asynchronous communication

real-time vs. asynchronous communication

The Center for Academic Technology of the University of the District of Columbia provided the above image in a blog post, Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication. They outline advantages and disadvantages of either. Below are my thoughts about the pros and cons.

Advantages of Real Time Communication

The big advantage of a phone call versus a letter (remember postal letters?) is that the conversation is two-directional in brief components with immediate response. The communication goes back and forth like a Ping Pong game — or at least it SHOULD. (You know how boring a verbose monologue is, especially when you are the on the receiving end 😉 Twitter has introduced a hybrid with near real-time brief micro-messages, which could be exchanged either in real-time — or not. Believe it or not, (patient) people used to play chess by post cards — no kidding!

Non-Verbal Communication

As I pointed out in a previous post,

Social Psychologists generally subscribe to the theory that “93% of interpersonal communication is non-verbal, and only 7 % is content.” Almost every facet of our personality is revealed through our appearance, our body language, our gestures, our facial expressions, our overall demeanor, and our posture and movements.  Interpersonal perception and “chemistry” are mostly unconscious and based on subtle natural cues, like tone and “warmth” of voice, a real handshake, pupil dilation, and even biological hormonal fragrances called pheramones. No matter how hard the perfume manufacturers try, it is hard to fake interpersonal chemistry. We unconsciously form a persistent “first impression” during the first few minutes of meeting a new person.

These nonverbal factors present a big challenge for those of us who want to use social media to communicate. Not to mention the phenomenon of computers “talking” to each other with automated “social” media! The question is, “How can we send and receive nonverbal messages in a verbal environment?” Videos and webinars may help.

Sherry Turkle wrote an interesting article (4/21/12) in the New York Times, called The Flight From Conversation. She writes:

WE live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection. At home, families sit together, texting and reading e-mail. At work executives text during board meetings. 

Asynchronous Communication Has Advantages As Well

In my opinion the biggest advantage is the avoidance of interruptions in the middle of a project or another call. A hybrid solution would be to use asynchronous communication, such as email or voice mail, to arrange an appointment for a live conversation in real time — maybe even in person.

Terry Jones (@terrycjones) wrote an interesting article on 9/26/10 on O’Reilly Radar called, Dancing out of time: Thoughts on asynchronous communication. He discusses why asynchronous communication is far more scalable and thus more powerful. He says (actually writes 😉

It’s difficult to overstate the impact of technology on our ability to communicate asynchronously. Modern digital systems provide us with virtually unlimited amounts of cheap storage, along with the means to efficiently deposit/retrieve information into/from this storage. Consider Slideshare as an example. You can post presentation slides and have them read asynchronously by thousands or even millions, rather than just seen by the dozens who might attend a presentation in person.

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Value of Relationships

Intangible Value

The value of relationships for business is intangible and difficult to measure, although the majority of executives believe that relationships are a key to business success. *

Relational Capital

The Relational Capital Group has provided an assessment   to measure relational capital called RQ or Relational Quotient. They conducted a national survey of top executives of companies with annual revenues of more than $100,000,000. They found that “90% of the CEO/COO/Presidents surveyed attributed their business results each year to the strength of their relationships.” The relationships they referred to are both personal and professional and internal and external to their companies.

The highly successful executives agreed that strong, healthy, effective relationships with employees, customers, colleagues, and suppliers are essential to business performance. The value of relationships is one of the intangible assets that, along with good-will, knowledge and skills, make up more than half of the value of a company.

* Image credit to Socius

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Ask the Right Question


English: This is a current photo of Gonzo Greg...

Image via Wikipedia

Social media for business elicits the question of ROI. Business is conducted between people, and is therefore “social.” Don’t ask, “Yes or No?” Ask, WHICH ? All decisions are relative. Everytime we choose to do something, we choose, by default, NOT to do other things. Our time, money, energy, attention, and social capital, are limited…

For example, by choosing to invest my time writing this, I chose not to write something else. Then I chose to post this article on this blog, and not on my other blogs. For my thoughts on information overload and overwhelm, see my post, “Enough is Enough!”

We tend to want to have it all, do it all, and be all things to all people. It “ain’t” happenin’ my friend! We need to keep our priorities in mind. We need to be willing to say NO to lots of desirable things and enticing people. This is just especially true on the internet, where the stimuli are overwhelming. The temptation to follow one tangent after another saps our time and confuses us. The situation is especially dangerous on social networking sites.


Pareto’s Law, AKA the 80/20 Principle, is a guide to prioritizing the “vital few” vs. the “trivial many.”  It applies to ROI for businesses which participate on social media. When we choose to invest time (= money) in social networking, we have MANY relative choices to make among networking sites, and among potential “Friends,” Fans, and “Followers” and connections. It is impossible to do it all. We cannot be all things to all people. If we pursue maximum quantity, we may have to sacrifice quality.


As a “do-gooder” idealist, I used to want to do everything right. But I discovered that some things are ONLY worth doing if we are willing to accept imperfection in order to do them efficiently. This is not mutually exclusive to the concept that effectiveness is more important than efficiency. Sometimes we can be more effective overall, net-net, by doing some things minimally. Of course, SOME things (much of the 80 %) are NOT worth doing at all. I have finally concluded that, despite the old adage to the contrary, NOT “everything worth doing is worth doing well.” What do YOU think? Please post your opinions and comments here.

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Social Media For Business

People do business with those they know, like, and trust. Social networks have introduced a powerful means of increasing the number of people who know, like, and trust you and your business. One of the most important differences between social media and traditional media is the opportunity for two-way communication. Interactive engagement with your audience is much more effective in cultivating relationships with potential customers than old-fashioned push advertising.

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