What do we mean when we say communication at its finest? Well, put simply, the core and tendrils of communication. Well, really the tendrils of communication more so than the core, but the core is pretty important as well.
Communication has developed, formed, and transformed our society for centuries. Without the development of communication, we most likely wouldn’t be where we are today. In essence, communication is one of the foundations of creation. In today’s blog post, we will be discussing all there is to this marvelous concept.
From the definition of communication to categories and styles, to synchronous and asynchronous, and finally the duality of communication. We have a lot to unpack, so buckle up. Let’s first begin by defining what communication is.
At its core, communication is defined as the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium. Communication, in itself, is done successfully when the receiver conveys or shares the ideas and feelings behind the message.
According to Skills You Need, there are complexities to communication. The interpretation of messages could be perceived differently, thus leading to different feelings than the intended meaning of the message. The idea of interpretation and intended meaning of messages or conversations are derived from the categories of communication.
Categories of Communication
When it comes to categories of communication there are four main types: Spoken or Verbal Communication, Non-Verbal Communication, Written Communication, and Visualizations.
- Verbal Communication is the transfer of information through speaking or sign language. It is considered to be one of the most common types of communications as it is the most efficient. This category can also be seen in face-to-face conversations, video conferences, and phone calls.
- Non-Verbal Communication is the use of body language, gestures, and facial expressions to convey information to others. This category is most helpful when trying to understand others’ thoughts and feelings. Additionally, non-verbal could be used both intentionally and unintentionally, such as smiling unintentionally when hearing a nice song.
- Written Communication is the act of writing, typing, or printing symbols to convey information. Note here that the difference between non-verbal and written communication is that non-verbal dives into body language to communicate. Much like the Cuneiform script seen in the Sumerian city of Uruk. Common forms of written communication can be seen in the workplace. Sending emails and instant messaging results in a simpler form of communication. Because of the results written communication has brought, it has now become the preferred form of communication in corporate and self-made businesses.
- Visual Communication is the act of using photographs, art, drawing, sketches, charts, and graphs to convey information. Visuals are often used to aid presentations and provide helpful context alongside written and verbal communication.
Categories of communication are used every day, and because they are the most common types, tendrils have sprouted. In other words, categories lead to the next advanced form. An advanced form in which we use the categories and transform them into types of communication.
Refresher: we discussed the core of communication and what it means, which is the base level, and we now discussed the categories which forms the second level. It is now time to introduce the third level: types.
There are several different types of communication, but for the purpose of this blog post, we will be discussing only two types, in which we feel better to serve our argument. The two types we will be focusing on are interpersonal and effective communication.
Interpersonal communication is defined as an exchange of information between two or more people. Further, there have been research studies that strive to understand how humans use verbal and nonverbal cues to accomplish personal and relational goals. As reiterated before, the categories of communication form and develop the types of communication that we now refer to.
For example, interpersonal usually takes place between people who are interdependent and have some knowledge of each other, such as a father and a son, employer and employee, teacher and student, two coworkers, etc. Additionally, interpersonal communication can take place face-to-face or on social media.
Verbal and non-verbal categories apply to interpersonal and can even go as far as saying the categories form interpersonal communication. Allow me to further explain how verbal and non-verbal apply. Various research studies have produced at least six categories of inquiry when it comes to interpersonal communication:
- How humans adjust and adapt their verbal and nonverbal skills during face-to-face encounters.
- How messages are produced
- The idea of uncertainty influences behavior and information-management strategies
- Deceptive communication
- Relational dialectics
- Social interactions mediated by technology
Much of the interpersonal communication we see today actually takes place in large office settings. Recent arguments and debates have concluded that interpersonal communication is seen as a mediator for information flow from mass media to the wider population. Several theories have formulated from this idea. The first being the “Two-Step Flow of Communication.”
Two-Step Flow of Communication
This theory proposes that most people form their opinions under the influence of opinion leaders, who in turn are influenced by mass media. In contract to the magic bullet theory, which summed up, holds that people are directly influenced by mass media, the two-step model argues that ideas flow from mass media to opinion leaders, and from there to a wider population. What is unique about this theory is that opinion leaders provide their own interpretation of information to their audience. This theory has been formulated by Lazarsfeld and Katz.
Uncertainty Reduction Theory/ Initial Interaction Theory
The next theory up for discussion is the “Uncertainty Reduction Theory.” Developed in 1975 by Charles Berger and Richard Calabrese, this particular theory addresses the basic process of how we gain knowledge about other people. Further, based on theory alone, people have difficulty with uncertainty.
To better help predict behavior, people motivate themselves to seek information about those they interact with. The theory argues that strangers, upon meeting, go through specific steps and checkpoints in order to reduce uncertainty about each other and form an idea of whether they like or dislike each other. During communication, individuals are making plans to accomplish their goals. At highly uncertain moments, they will become more vigilant and rely more on data available in the situation. A reduction in certainty leads to a loss of confidence in the initial plan, such that the individual may make contingency plans.
Furthermore, the theory also says that higher levels of uncertainty create distance between people and that non-verbal expressiveness tends to help reduce uncertainty. Berger and Calabrese have also developed several Axioms, two of which attract the idea of interpersonal communication: verbal and non-verbal communication.
- Verbal Communication seen in the light of theory and interpersonal: Given the high level of uncertainty present at the onset of the entry phase, as the amount of verbal communication between strangers increases, the level of uncertainty for each interactant in the relationship will decrease. As uncertainty is further reduced, the amount of verbal communication will increase. Put simply: Increase verbal communication, decrease in Uncertainty.
- Non-Verbal seen in the light of theory and interpersonal communication: Expressiveness includes eye contact, head nods, arm gestures and physical distance between the interactants(closeness). As non-verbal affiliate expressiveness increases, uncertainty levels will decrease in an initial interaction situation. In addition, decreases in uncertainty level will cause increases in non-verbal affiliative expressiveness. Again, an indirect relationship in which the more emotion evoked, the less we feel uncertain.
It is human nature to be careful or uncertain when talking to strangers. Especially in a conglomerate-like setting, and there are 300-different employees. Hence why interpersonal communication is the most effective here. Conversation barriers are continuously shattered because we as humans implement our innate desire to connect.
As reiterated before, there have been several research studies that strive to understand how humans use interpersonal communication, such as verbal and nonverbal cues to accomplish personal and relational goals. Beneath the umbrella of interpersonal communication lies the various elements that make this type of communication what it is today. For more information on understanding theories behind interpersonal communication, we recommend reading about the “Social Exchange Theory,” and “Symbolic Interaction.”
Whereas Interpersonal communication is usually used to deduce the personality of strangers through verbal and non-verbal strategies, Effective communication presents a certain view that is best understood by the recipient. So, in other words, Interpersonal communication is best applied in face-to-face with verbal and non-verbal techniques, and effective communication, as the name implies, is designed to get the message across in a clear and concise manner.
Effective Communication is defined as a process of exchanging ideas, thoughts, knowledge, and information such that the purpose or intention is fulfilled in the best possible manner. Put simply, it is the presentation of views by the sender in a way best understood by the receiver. There are a few things to consider when it comes to performing effective communication. Let’s go over the characteristics first.
- Reliability: The sender must be sure their end that whatever he is conveying is right by his knowledge.
- Consideration of the Recipient: The medium of communication and other physical settings must be planned, keeping in mind the attitude, language, and knowledge.
- Sender’s Courtesy: The message so drafted must reflect the sender’s courtesy, humbleness, and respect towards the receiver.
- Complete and Precise Messaging: Communication is the idea for base decision making. Further, it must be short and concise to facilitate straightforward interpretation
With effective communication, development skills, such as self-confidence, respectfulness, self-efficacy, understanding, and emotional intelligence are created. From these developmental skills come the process and development of employee management, team building, growth of the organization, strong relationships, and facility of creativity and innovation.
Described in the chart below, you will find a flow chart of our theory on communication. In this blog post, we began by discussing the core definition of communication. From there, we lead you to the categories of communication, which inherently is an advanced definition of communication seen through different channels, or in this case categories.
Then we pointed your attention to the different types of communication. Though there are many types, we felt that focusing on Effective and Interpersonal Communication best adhere to our theory. Effective and Interpersonal communication coalesce from the categories; in other words, what makes the types of communication are the various categories. Think of it as another advanced step/definition to understanding communication.
After analyzing the types of communication, we finally discuss the styles of communication- asynchronous and synchronous communication- which thus leads to the final product, the duality of communication. In this blog post, we started with a specific concept that eventually takes you to the larger and much broader concept of communication.
Seen in an equation format: Theory of communication leads to the categories, which then leads to types, then to styles, and thus the sum, which is duality. So, theory + categories + types + styles= duality.
Synchronous communication can be defined as real-time communication between two people. Some forms of synchronous communication are,
- Face-to-face interaction: Pros: receive an immediate answer, analyze non-verbal communication. Cons: get off-topic, not always as private as needed.
- Video Conferencing: Pros: convenient in remote work, easy to relate/connect, break down barriers. Cons: Technology dependent, difficult for spontaneous sharing of info, does not show human interaction.
- Texting (duality purpose): Pros: Informal and easy to use, have multiple conversations concurrently, feedback is usually quick. Cons: the expectation of instant answers, harder to have a clear in-depth discussion, easier to misinterpret.
The ideal business Synchronous Communication can be really useful is when things are in flex, depending on market conditions, decisions need to happen as they go, a start-up company, new product development, and even scientific research. According to a study on the financial trading industry, done by Saavedra, Hagerty, Uzzi, and Levin, Synchronicity and Synchronous communication have been proven to relieve risky behavior.
Furthermore, in regards to financial trading, it has been proven that with synchronous communication, such as instant messaging, the risk of losing money decreases. In Saavedra et al. study, they compared the animal system of Cicadas and humans through the idea of synchronicity and synchronous communication.
According to the authors, successful animal systems often manage risk through synchronous behavior that spontaneously arises without leadership. In critical human systems facing risks, such as financial markets or military operations, our understanding of the benefits associated with synchronicity is nascent but promising. Building on previous work illuminating commonalities between ecological and human systems, the authors compare the activity patterns of individual financial traders with the simultaneous activity of other traders- an individual and spontaneous characteristic they call synchronous trading.
Additionally, they examine the association of synchronous trading with individual performance and communication patterns. Analyzing empirical data on day traders’ second-to-second trading and instant messaging, they find that the higher the traders’ synchronous trading is, the less likely they are to lose money at the end of the day. Additionally, Saavedra et al. also find that the daily instant messaging patterns of traders are closely associated with their level of synchronous trading. This result suggests that synchronicity and vanguard technology may help traders cope with risky decisions in complex systems and may furnish unique prospects for achieving collective and individual goals.
In essence, “examining a typical proprietary trading firm wherein the traders individually race to be the first to disambiguate a constant stream of uncertain market information in an effort to make profitable trades, [ it can be concluded] that when a stock trader in that firm trades at the same time as other traders in the firm, his or her financial performance is significantly increased,” ( p.6). Further, “when these diverse points of view converge, the traders trade in synchronicity such that the synchronous timing of trades reflects a point of crowd wisdom despite no conscious intention to do so on the part of any individual trader,” (p.6). These mechanisms suggest that synchronicity in human systems reflects some of the same principles found in animal systems, namely that synchronicity appears to arise with attention to local information rather than centralized leadership.
In summation, with instant messaging, and the common unspoken knowledge shared between traders, the risk of losing money decreases due to debugging information.
Aside from the finance industry, synchronous communication has also been helpful in other ways. According to Next Thought some of the ways synchronous communication has helped were through
- Tools for reinforcing key topics or concepts in live presentations
- As a method for providing multiple information streams for a live event
- As a learning environment alternative to accommodate different learning preferences
Of course, with every form of communication, there are pros and cons to them. The pros of synchronous communication are that, because of the social nature we live in today, people can easily interact with others.
Secondly, synchronous communication takes place in real-time, which means immediate feedback. In terms of cons to synchronous communication, it again takes place in real-time, which depending on if you work remotely, time zones aren’t always your friend. Remember, with synchronous communication comes instant responses. Responses that are sometimes used to create ideas, inspire, and innovate.
As reiterated before, Synchronous communication best applies to businesses that require a constant form of communication. Where decisions need to happen quickly, and things are in progressive motion. With Asynchronous communication, it is the opposite. Here’s why.
The ideal business where Asynchronous Communication can be useful is when a concept/ product image is already made, companies that are process-oriented, manufacturing, and franchises.
For example, assume you are building a widget titled, “A.” You wouldn’t send directions through text or speaking, rather, you would want to document the process. That being said, some tools that are used to implement asynchronous communication are how-to guides, wiki’s, texting (duality), tasks and tickets, and email (duality). We will discuss our theory of duality communication later in the post. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of asynchronous tools.
- Email and texting: Best used when you need to record a trail of messages, can be used anytime and anywhere, can include files/documents. Cons: takes time to compose (formal tone expected), unclear as to whether the email was received properly, and no idea when a reply will be made.
- Tasks/Tickets, Wikis, and how-to guides: best used when deeper collaboration is needed, progress tracking, informal and action-oriented, ability to be highly specific. Cons: delay in getting responses, no human interaction, and misinterpretation.
In 2013 a study was conducted to test the effectiveness of word of mouth (WOM) advertising via synchronous and asynchronous communication. According to Berger and Iyengar, the question they proposed is whether certain communication channels affect consumers to buy. The communication channels they tried were written (asynchronous) and verbal (synchronous).
“Laboratory experiments, as well as analysis of almost 20,000 everyday conversations, demonstrate that communicating via oral versus written communication affects the products and brands consumers discuss,” (Berger and Iyengar, p. 567). Compared to oral communication, written communication leads people to mention more interesting products and brands.
Further, this effect is driven by communication asynchrony and self-enhancement concerns. Written communication gives people more time to construct and refine what to say, and self-enhancement motives lead people to use this opportunity to mention more interesting things.
These results shed light on how communication channels shape interpersonal communication and the psychological drivers of word of mouth more broadly. Please note that one form of communication is not better than the other. Each style of communication is designed to benefit the perfect environment.
Furthermore, according to Doist, several businesses believe that with Asynchronous communication, employees have more control of their workday and there is less stress involved. Remember though, asynchronous communication is not everything. It is human nature to crave interaction with others, so sometimes, for a business that implements asynchronous communication, it would be good to take your company out on a retreat.
It is vital to know that businesses cannot last without relationships, connection, and interaction. Otherwise, we would be living in a world of robots. To find the perfect asynchronous application, we recommend looking at this article. OwlLabs does a wonderful job of breaking down asynchronous vs. synchronous communication, along with the right application to use.
Time for our favorite topic to discuss, and possibly the reason why you clicked here. We would like to introduce the Duality of Communication. Even though AirSend just released in December in 2019, we like to think of ourselves as the Trojan horse to context switching and communication. Much like Skype, Slack, and Discord, AirSend is a platform made for dual communication.
The Duality of Communication
Again, there is not a style of communication that is better than the other. Both styles of asynchronous and synchronous communication serve their purpose to benefit their respective company atmosphere; however, having only one form of communication and not the other will not increase progress or success. Not immediately. But by implementing the duality of communication the possibilities are endless. New levels of productivity will be accomplished, unforeseen goals will be attainable, the future of success will be endless.
In 2007, a study titled, “Exploring Effectiveness of Team Communication: Balancing Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication in Design Teams,” was conducted. Throughout this experiment, Otter and Emitt (authors and observers to the experiment) conducted a communication experiment: the effects of synchronous and asynchronous communication through the proper tools necessary to fulfill both types of communication.
Their setting for the experiment to take place within design and project management teams. Their findings concluded that a collective framework for team communication and collaboration using electronic tools was missing. There was also evidence of a lack of understanding by the users of the proper use of the tools, a lack of training, and poor management competencies to stimulate proper use. There was also evidence that the rivalry of tools tended to hinder, rather than improve, the effectiveness of team communication.
The cause of the problem was the variety of platforms used to communicate. Rather than having one platform for both types of communication, there were multiple platforms delegated to each style of communication. In other words for synchronous and asynchronous communication, there were at least five different ways to communicate. Seen in figure 1.3 one can see the variety of communication channels implemented within the subjects.
Due to the plethora of forms of communication, the team experienced miscommunication, inferiority, etc. By introducing a platform that represents dual communication, the problems the subjects experienced would be solved. Communication is changing. We are struggling to find a balance between two completely different styles of communication. However, rather than struggle to balance the two, why not combine them into one ultimate communication platform? Something to consider, no?
The Future of Collaboration
According to an article listed in the StartUp Magazine, and also coincidentally written by our CEO, Madhan Kanagavel, “Efficiency, productivity and collaboration are the building blocks to success in any well-run organization,” (2019). In essence, this article offers insight into the future of collaboration via communication. Through the listed five changes comes the overall effect of how communication will change in the future.
Essentially, communication will become faster, efficient, and increased security. The way this will change is through further implementation of technology, specifically applications.
I believe that by further intertwining the duality of communication (synchronous and asynchronous communication) into one application, will break the boundaries of communication as we know it. There will no longer be A or B style of communication, rather there will be an introduction to everyday dual communication. The duality of communication is the future. Dual communication, as we know it, will allow us to enter into new levels of efficiency and productivity, ergo leading to the ultimate goal: time management.
With time management comes new heights of productivity- or completed works, and new attainable goals. What would our society be like if everyone implemented dual communication? What if our day-to-day life was completely efficient? Imagine the amount of productivity we would accomplish? Perhaps we would live like Star Trek (the series not the movies). This blog post is now concluded, and I bid adieu.
AirSend is a bold attempt to bring the duality of communication (asynchronous and synchronous) in one place.
Berger, Jonah, and Raghuram Iyengar. “Communication Channels and Word of Mouth: How the Medium Shapes the Message.” Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 40, no. 3, 2013, pp. 567–579. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/671345.
den Otter, Ad, and Stephen Emmitt. “Exploring Effectiveness of Team Communication: Balancing Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication in Design Teams.” Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 14, no. 5, 2007, pp. 408-419. ProQuest, https://libweb.lib.utsa.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libweb.lib.utsa.edu/docview/218648210?accountid=7122, doi:http://dx.doi.org.libweb.lib.utsa.edu/10.1108/09699980710780728.
Saavedra, Serguei, et al. “Synchronicity, Instant Messaging, and Performance among Financial Traders.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 108, no. 13, 2011, pp. 5296–5301. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41125693.