How to avoid making power plays in async communication.
Recently The Information’s Sam Lessin posted this controversial tweet:
It may have been the melodramatically awkward phrasing of “raw/naked,” or the long Notes app screenshot, but trolls and snarky responses immediately started rolling in. One of the most valid counterpoints was by Arjay Ruggles, founder of HomeRoom, a Discord community management startup.
Ruggles has a point. But then again, so does Lessin. We’ve seen it time and again in our internal communications - we don’t use Calendly much, but we do record video and voice notes to send asynchronous messages - and these convenient tools all too often allow managers to be thoughtless and impersonal in communication.
One of the downsides of async communication is the inability to read intent. When someone sends you a Calendly link, or a video or voice memo, an email or doc, it's hard to tell what the intent behind it is - Is this urgent? What's really needed from me here? Is the sender unhappy with me? Do they actually want to talk to me? Were they just thinking aloud? How do I respond in a way that makes my own intent clear?
We love async communication for its flexibility, but more importantly we love its thoughtfulness, slowness, calmness, and focus.
That being said, here's a sample thought exercise to go through before sending your next async memo, video, calendar link, or voice note:
Of course, you don’t need to go through every step every time, but it will go a long way towards focusing your messaging, and delighting the person on the other side.
Melanie Broder is on the Marketing team at Slite, where she works on all things content. She helps Slite users gain new skills through guides, templates, and videos. She lives in New York City, where she likes to read novels and run loops around Central Park.