Synchronous and Asynchronous Communications
The most obvious way to distinguish between types of communication is to separate communication into two categories:
- In-person, or face-to-face.
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.
- A - means negative, or not.
- Syn - means equal, or same.
- Chronos - means time.
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:
- Phone conversations.
- Video conferencing.
- Audio conferencing.
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:
- Body language.
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:
- Traditional mail.
- Online forums.
(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.