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I have been working with a team where most of our communications are virtual. It is rare that we get together in person with other gigs, commuter issues, and lack of space at the central office prohibiting full team face to face except on rare occasions. Most recently, we have been relying on Google Talk for group chats to conduct our morning Scrum. My observation is this; we are much more polite to each other in the IM setting.
I have been amazed at how rude meeting participants are in every office environment I have worked in. Speaking over the top of each other is the norm rather than the exception. I do not have this in me. I am nearly incapable of talking over the top of someone. Instead I will give “a look” when I have been trying to talk or simply raise my hand to indicate I need a turn. I have had success with a round-robin format for meetings I facilitate. However, often I am a meeting participant rather than facilitator and other times I want to encourage open discussion. I realize I should invest in a “talking stick.” I resist having to go to such lengths to ask for common courtesy.
This does not seem to be an issue in group IM chats. I noticed early on that people seemed to type their say one message at a time. I observed team members while in the office one day and watched someone start to type, realize someone has already started, stop, and wait to see what that person has to say. In rare cases is there a flurry of messages over the top of each other. Why is this? Are we that much more in tune visually that “Vicki is typing…” is stronger than me verbally “but, but…” while jumping up and down in my seat? Is it because it takes more effort to type a response that we are waiting to see if necessary before taking the energy? I hope some of my neuroscience friends have some answers to these questions.
In the meantime, chat anybody? You can find me through Google Talk at Vicki@project-pro.us.