Welcome to our free Virtual Communications for Managers tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's Virtual Communications for Managers course.
There are many ways to differentiate communication. This lesson will take an analytical look at communication in the workplace and explore best practices based on key factors.
The most obvious way to distinguish between types of communication is to separate communication into two categories:
Within the category of virtual communications, there are many more distinctions. One of the primary distinctions is between synchronous and asynchronous communications. The words "synchronous" and "asynchronous" come from both Latin and Greek.
Therefore, "synchronous," means, "same time;" and "asynchronous," means, "not same time."
So, communication in which the two parties can talk at the same time is synchronous.
Examples of synchronous communications include:
All face-to-face communication is synchronous as well, but synchronous, virtual communication is missing one or more of the following components that we addressed in the last lesson:
Asynchronous communication takes place when the two parties are not communicating at the same time, or at least they are not expected to. This includes:
(It needs to be noted that, while the basic concept is the same, we are not referring to the definitions used within the study of data communications. Here, we are referring to human interaction.)
Again, in asynchronous communication, typically one or more components of communication are missing. This is important to note because quality virtual communication finds ways to compensate for the loss of these components. We will address this in a later lesson.
Complete the following exercises about synchronous and asynchronous communications.
All messages are either broadcasts or exchanges. Broadcasts are announcements. They are often coming from one person and sent to many people, but they can also be between two individuals. A broadcast includes:
Broadcasts are distributions of information that do not expect feedback. Their intent is to inform without discussion.
Exchanges, on the other hand, are two-way communications. Exchanges include all components of the communication loop, as learned in the last lesson. Exchanges may begin with an offer of information, as in a broadcast, but there is an expectation of feedback. Exchanges may also begin with a question, seeking information. Examples of exchanges include:
In the previous lesson, we talked about the importance of equal communication with both local and virtual employees. Many managers send broadcasts to their virtual employees, but they neglect to provide opportunities for exchanges with them.
A productive manager will not neglect the important task of providing exchange opportunities for their virtual employees. The complete communication loop provides managers and employees the opportunity to:
Additionally, if information is not broadcast clearly or completely, the receiver of the message may become frustrated and unable to perform their work because they do not have a way to seek clarification.
Even with broadcast information, it may be beneficial to provide an opportunity for feedback or questions. For example:
Perform the following activities related to broadcasts and exchanges.
Another way to distinguish communication is between casual and formal communications. Casual communication generally takes place between friends, and formal communication takes place between employees and employers. However, this is not an absolute rule.
The relationship between the two individuals often determines the type of communication used. Formal communications are used:
Casual communications, on the other hand, are used:
The situation also affects the type of communication used. Situations that use formal communications include:
The following are the benefits that are derived from the use of a formal communication style. Formal communications:
Casual communications are used in settings that do not require the same level of protocol. The degree to which a situation is formal or casual determines the degree to which the method and style of communications are formal or casual. The following are examples of casual or semi-casual situations:
Casual communications provide benefits as well. While casual communications may not be as precise or clear as formal communications, casual communications:
There are many aspects that differentiate between formal and casual communications. In formal communications, great attention is placed on the composition of the presentation.
In casual conversation, the relationship between the parties assumes both parties, to a certain degree, understand each other's intent. In casual communication:
In virtual communications, the formality of the situation impacts the words and media chosen to communicate the message.
Perform the following exercises relating to casual and formal communication.
A final, and very important, consideration that affects the method of communication is whether the content is secure or unsecure. Secure communication is used when the information is confidential or sensitive. Any content that is, or should be, kept private needs to be handled in a secure manner. This means:
Often the security of a message is determined by:
It should be noted that secure information should not be broadcast unless the broadcast method is verified to be secure. An example is an automated email that includes a password. This broadcast is in response to a request in which identity is verified prior to the broadcast.
In all situations, it is of the utmost importance to consider the confidentiality of the content and what this implies as far as choosing communication methods. Depending on the situation, mishandling secure information could have very damaging consequences. In the business environment, these consequences may range from simple embarrassment to job loss.
Complete the following exercise about secure and unsecure communications.