Choose your Communication Method More Carefully – and Don’t be a Mobile Phone

You know how it is when you start seeing the same thing popping up again and again? It sticks in the mind unless addressed. Like the word ‘brouhaha’, which I’d never heard and then heard three times in a week. Suddenly, it was part of my own lexicon.

This week, he ‘thing’ that has repeatedly assaulted my mind has been the concept of synchronous and asynchronous communication. “What’s that?” I hear you not ask.

Synchronous communication requires that both parties to said communication be present and active at the same time, while asynchronous means that presence and immediacy are not required. Head gone, yet?

Talking is synchronous – radio and telephone comms are the most obvious examples, and on-line helplines are supposed to be examples,. As well, unless you’ve been stuck in one.

Examples of asynchronous communications should be letters, e-mail, texts and other social media messaging methods such as Messenger and WhatsApp. I say should be, because…..

Are you one of those people who sends an e-mail and wonders why the person hasn’t answered it within an hour? Do you send a text expecting an immediate reply? Are you like my children, who actually try to conduct conversations by asynchronous methods?

Then you’re a (deleted).

The purpose of this blog is to remind you of what you knew before the advent of digital communications, and that is that because when urgency is a concern the quickest way to get something done is to speak to the person you want to do it, then synchronous communication is the best way, supported by text/email/letter as a written confirmation of what was agreed.

When urgency is NOT a factor, then sending e-comms is perfectly acceptable. However, expecting, nay demanding that the other party attach urgency to that which you did not consider urgent (or failed to properly apply real urgency by using e-comms) is bloody rude. It’s also ineffective, because the relationship you damage by ‘expecting’ other people to drop everything at your whim will need repairing.

Now, it may be that you’re not the problem, and that those who communicate with you are. In which case, maybe it’s time to start a synchronous communication with them so that they stop expecting your immediate, unquestioned obedience to their diktats.

I am convinced that the mobile generation has resulted in a phenomenon I only used to see with infant children. I was once in a supermarket. At one end of the aisle, a supervisor was chatting to a team member. At the other end of the aisle was another team member – who started shouting the name of one of the other parties, evidently seeking attention despite the fact that the others were already engaged in their own chat. I se it time and time again – people just butt in, never patiently waiting for a suitable pause into which they can insert their desire for assistance with their own issue.

We have begun to expect that, like a mobile phone, people will drop their other conversation and put people – who are present – on hold for us!

I delve deeper into this phenomenon in my book Police Time Management, but for now I’d ask you to consider – what is the appropriate means of communication I should use for ‘this’ situation, and act accordingly. And try not to interrupt people when they are engaged with others – hopefully you will earn their undivided attention by their seeing you not dividing theirs.

Published by policetimemanagement

30 year policing veteran and time management authority. Now I've combined the two.

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