Synchronous versus asynchronous communication

Find out what exactly the difference is between synchronous and asynchronous communication and what potential and risks each type of communication entails.

By Alina Fesl

The app Clubhouse, which caused a lot of hype at the beginning of the year, was initially seen as a platform for informal exchanges on various topics. At the latest since Bodo Ramelow earned great criticism for the spontaneous statements he made about Clubhouse, we know better: the concept of Clubhouse, namely synchronous communication, does not only bring advantages. In the following, we will explain where the differences between synchronous and asynchronous communication lie. We will also show you examples of when and where asynchronous communication is advantageous and when you should rather resort to "classic communication". Because you certainly don't want to experience a shitstorm like the one Mr. Ramelow reaped.

Synchronous communication - for the fast ones

Synchronous communication refers to a conversation that takes place simultaneously. This includes, for example, a conversation with the other person, a telephone call, or the exchange via the Clubhouse app mentioned at the beginning. All the people involved can respond directly to what has just been said; there is no time delay.

The advantages of this type of communication are obvious: On the one hand, synchronous communication saves an immense amount of time. Since the conversation partners can respond to each other immediately, there is no long waiting time. Especially in a business context, this communication can lead to faster achievement of the goal. Another advantage of this type of communication is the degree of authenticity. Since your conversation partner answers immediately and doesn't have to think about how exactly he wants to answer first, you can usually assume that his response is authentic.

Asynchronous communication - for the planners

The counterpart to synchronous communication is asynchronous communication. This includes all dialogs that take place at different times. Here, the communication partners react to each other with a time lag. This includes e-mails and Internet forums, for example. As a rule, the communication partners are not in the same place. At first glance, you might think that asynchronous communication is something that only came with digitization - but think back to the past, when people communicated exclusively via letters.

Asynchronous communication is useful when the people involved are not active at the same time. The probability that this is the case naturally increases with the number of people involved. A trivial example: you are planning your birthday. Reaching all of your friends at the same time in a video call where everyone is participating is much more difficult to implement than simply opening a chat where everyone can join or cancel - when and where he or she has the opportunity to look at his or her cell phone.

What role are you in now?

Now you know what the advantages and disadvantages of asynchronous or synchronous communication are. The example of Bodo Ramelow clearly shows that it is also very important to take into account which role we are in at the moment. If we are among friends or in the family, synchronous communication naturally lends itself to this. As we see with Mr. Ramelow, we should be careful with synchronous communication if we are currently representing an important position. Since in an official position - in your case, for example, your job - it is often important how we express ourselves in order to radiate competence, asynchronous communication provides a good solution. Here you can think about how you want to express yourself at your leisure.

For company-specific issues, asynchronous communication makes a lot of sense because you can reach a particularly large number of colleagues. Information can also be accessed at any time, regardless of time.  At zesavi, we offer you the perfect platform for this!