It is important that you keep in mind the difference between these two types of communication, before learning the best way to use them. When we talk about synchronous communication, we can think of it as the exchange of information over the Internet, which occurs in real-time. On the other hand, when we talk about asynchronous communication, we refer to that which occurs between two or more people, but in an uncoordinated manner, that is, they do not occur at the same time (1).
It is often said that one is better than the other, but both have their benefits and will be of great help for different situations in your life. Here are some tips that you can take into account to make the best use of them. Let’s get started!
- When we talk about synchronous communication, we can think of it as the exchange of information over the Internet, which occurs in real-time. On the contrary, when we talk about asynchronous communication, we refer to that which occurs between two or more people, but in an uncoordinated manner.
- There are several tools that you can use for your daily life, as well as for different purposes, such as your work or academic life.
- Although we can communicate through synchronous or asynchronous communication services, there are things that we can only do and feel on the physical level.
9 essential tips for using synchronous and asynchronous communication in the right way
Synchronous and asynchronous communication occurs in different ways, and as time goes by, more means and utilities are found for them. That is why we have made a list of 9 tips that will be very useful for you to learn more about them. Each of these tips was selected in relation to the use that users give to these two forms of communication. We invite you to discover the qualities of this new world.
1. Choose the best tool to work with synchronous or asynchronous communication
There are several tools that you can use for your daily life, as well as for different purposes, such as your work or academic life. Some of these tools have existed for many years. But with the advent of social networks and smartphones, access to them has been facilitated, and new uses have been found that you will have at your fingertips.
Synchronous communication tools
- Call: most mobile applications already have this option included. It is one of the most conventional forms of synchronous communication. In this case, we only hear the voice of the person we are talking to; we cannot observe gestures or expressions.
- Video call: there are applications designed exclusively for this modality, although other applications also have it as a complement. In this case, as its name determines, it is the combination of a call together with an image, in real-time. Every day, it is used more and more for different work and academic areas. In recent years, it has even gained much relevance in the world of psychotherapy, where professionals offer virtual sessions through this medium (2).
- Instant messaging: consists of communicating between two people (or more) through text messages. This medium is one of the most used and frequented by young people, although it is used by people of all ages. In addition, applications for this purpose have become an essential means of communication for work, university and social purposes (3).
Asynchronous communication tool
- Email: the famous “electronic mail”. With the passage of time, this medium has been used for various functions and purposes. It is especially used to send information in text format, or files, either informally or formally. Nowadays, it is used in the student and work areas. In addition, businesses and companies have an e-mail address, which is used by their employers, or as a means of communicating with their customers.
- Messaging applications: just as they can be used instantaneously, they can also be used asynchronously. We can, and they can, leave us a message through this medium, and reply when we have the interest or time to do so. This medium is very good for reducing costs in distance communication (4).
- Collaboration in documents: this medium consists of the use of a document, where all participants can add information. This can be done synchronously or asynchronously. It is an excellent way to work remotely, receive replies from your colleagues, and complete and coordinate without having to be physically present (5). It is an option that you can implement in your work, academic, or social life.
2. Implement synchronous and asynchronous communication in your education
Technology has become essential in our lives, for all functions, but mainly for communication. Thus, many activities have moved from the traditional world to the virtual world (5). In recent years, we have begun to notice a noticeable increase in online courses. These courses are mainly characterized by asynchronous communication that gives you the possibility to study on your own time and from wherever you are. Below is a table with the advantages and disadvantages of this new way of learning:
- They provide a learning experience
- Education without distance limits
- In many of them, you will be able to adapt your schedule and do it at your own time
- Access to specialized content
- Educational autonomy
- They are available in different lengths
- Some include certifications
- You should take into account the veracity of the institute, university, or professional who teaches it
- Many are paid
- You will not always have a follow-up of the activities
3. Use synchronous communication for your meetings
There are several ways to conduct synchronous virtual meetings. Virtual meetings make it easier to share information quickly and interact through it. One of the most popular means of communication in the world in recent years has been video calls. This medium not only allows you to hear a voice, but also to see gestures and expressions, and to have a conversation very similar to the one that takes place outside the technology. It has been essential in recent years.
The increase was slow. Although, with the arrival of Covid-19, in 2020, the increase was much greater. This means of synchronous communication acquired an even greater value since it began to be used as a means of work, and as an activity of companies and institutions (7).
4. Consider asynchronous communication for collaborative work
Asynchronous communication, besides allowing you to organize your time, will also be of great support in your educational or work projects, and in an entertaining way. Shared documents are currently an excellent option for teamwork. This medium will allow you to write in a synchronous or asynchronous way with a group of people.
Some of the characteristics of shared documents are:
- Allows synchronous editing of the document: remotely, each member will be able to write at the same time, simultaneously, with the rest of the team.
- Allows asynchronous editing of the document: even if not all team members are present, you can make modifications to the document.
- You can save the files in the same application: they will be archived for possible future editing, or once finished you can also keep them in the application.
- Interaction through the “comment” function: members can leave messages anchored to a certain section of the work.
- Interaction through the “chat” function: you will be able to dialogue, but unlike the “comment” function, these messages will not be saved.
- Contains “revision history”: you will be able to see all the edits made
- Each member has a colour: this allows you to identify who is adding information to the document.
5. Note that synchronous written communication is not the same as oral communication
This point is important since people need to communicate and share what they feel, think and observe. But, it is not the same to do it through written asynchronous communication, as through oral synchronous communication. Both are important, and it is valuable that one is never displaced by the other.
In the following table you can see the main characteristics of each one, and why the development of each of them is important, even through a digital medium:
|Types of synchronous communication||Description|
|Oral synchronous communication||It is Dynamic.||Spontaneous.||Develops speed in expressing ideas.||It allows you to acquire listening skills.|
|Synchronous written communication||It is more reasoned||Static and permanent||Grammar and spelling become important||Must be adapted to the addressee: formal informal (8).|
6. Asynchronous communication tools allow you to keep the interactions you have performed
One thing to highlight about applications that allow you to maintain an asynchronous conversation is the fact that you can keep the interactions you have had. In this way, you can keep everything you consider important, and access it whenever you need it.
As we have already pointed out, shared document applications allow you to archive your work. Also, chat-based applications not only allow you to keep texts, but also: photos, videos, links, and documents. An e-mail will also give you this option.
7. You will have to find the balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication
Remote work is usually done through asynchronous communication. Usually, these are jobs that require a lot of time behind a screen. Therefore, in these cases, synchronous communication will be of great help to you.
Synchronous communication will allow you to interact with your team, and with your colleagues. Moreover, if you are a freelancer, it will be ideal to communicate with your clients in a clear and effective way.
Academic or student work
Having instant messaging spaces, where communication is asynchronous, we forget about other media. For example, when it is time to work in a team and agree on schedules, it is important to do it through instant messaging. But when it is time to work, perhaps it is better to incorporate asynchronous communication tools.
One medium that offers both forms of communication, and is very useful, is document sharing. In this way, everyone will work equally. Moreover, at the same time, you will be able to communicate through the “comments” or “chat” option.
Organize a meeting
You can always use a text message to give a piece of news or to remind you of something. But when you need to communicate and organize dynamically and immediately, it is advisable to use synchronous communication. In this case, a video call would be the most convenient option.
You can take into account the following points to have an effective meeting:
- Select tools for meetings that suit your needs
- Avoid cancelling at the last minute
- Choose a comfortable space, free of noise and interference.
- Try to have a good internet connection at the time
- If you are the host, it will be better if you arrive a few minutes before everyone else
- Give space to chat and intermediate if necessary
- Ask questions to the members to get them to interact
For day-to-day activities, we can focus much more on synchronous communication. A few years ago, it was common to use e-mail as a means of daily communication. Today, there are instant messaging applications that adapt to your convenience, providing thousands of functions.
Instant messaging allows you to:
- Save money, since you don’t have to pay for each message or call you make
- Record interactions
- Arrange meetings or transmit urgent news
- Communicate with people from anywhere in the world
- Create groups and interact with several people at the same time
Make online purchases
We are in a key moment of E-commerce, that is to say, of buying and selling on the Internet. This purchasing process is done in a mainly asynchronous and individual way. This does not mean that you will be alone at all times, there is always a space to solve your doubts, as well as to communicate with the company.
Mainly, in an asynchronous way, there will always be an e-mail as a medium. But also, in the last few years, the “chat” option has been incorporated into the websites. This allows synchronous communication. Either through a computer that is programmed to answer frequently asked questions or with a person who will be ready to answer your questions.
8. Avoids dependence on synchronous communication
Synchronous communication, as we have already mentioned, has many benefits and utilities. However, there is one very important point to take into account, and that is not to become dependent on the applications that provide this form of communication.
A key point in this is the arrival of the smartphone, since it allows us to be in continuous contact with other people. By this means, mainly through instant messaging, you can not only text but also post photos and videos, freely expressing your emotions. However, it is important to keep in mind that excessive stimulation of this, can generate mental health problems, stress and difficulties in the superior control of behaviour (9). For this reason, it is better to use it consciously and in a regulated manner.
9. Do not forget that synchronous or asynchronous communication through technology does not replace personal human communication
As a result of these new forms of communication, life and the way we relate to each other is changing. Through our cell phones, we tell what we feel, what happened in our day, nice things and not-so-nice things. But it is important to keep in mind that neither applications nor social networks should replace personal and physical communication.
We must take into account non-verbal communication. Therefore, although through synchronous or asynchronous communication services, we can communicate, there are things that we can only do and feel on the physical plane. For example, physical contact. This, although we often do not take it into account, can mean much more than a thousand words (11). Therefore, do not forget the importance of personal human communication, and resort to it frequently.
Both synchronous and asynchronous communication have their benefits. It will be useful to consider both for your social, work or academic life. There are many tools, and it will be important that in this sea of social networks and applications, you know how to recognize which ones are relevant to you.
This type of communication has come to make it easier for us and put many conveniences at our fingertips. But it is important that you know how to make a measured and conscious consumption of them. Do not forget that personal human communication is very important for your mental health and for you.
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