3 Jun 2013

Asynchronous communication and relationships

A lot of us really prefer the way that email allows us to ask and respond to questions when we want, taking the time we want -- in contrast to the "strain" of meeting face-to-face or via teleconference on a one-size-fits-all schedule.

But it's not always a good idea to communicate asynchronously. I noticed, for example, that Cornelia and I have a hard time stopping work (or whatever) to spend time together.

It goes like this:
D: Wanna hang out?
C: Sure. Give me 5 minutes.
D: Ok, I'll just write this email.
C: [5 min later] Ready?
D: Oh, shoot. I'm doing something... 2 minutes.
C: Ok, I'll just do this...
D: Ok, ready?
C: Wait a sec...
[until one of us gets upset...]

So here's my solution: don't talk in minutes; talk in tasks, for example, "let me do 2 emails."

Then the person who asked in the first place can do whatever for the 2-20 minutes it takes the other to do the task(s), for as long as they take.

This (to me) is actually more relaxing for both sides, one who can get the discrete tasks done in the "right" amount of time, the other who doesn't feel ignored by passing some time (as if s/he's less important) because the time passed is always right (Don't do 3 emails!)