>If you are planning to have a difficult conversation then it must be important, otherwise you probably will not have the conversation. If the person you want to talk to is far off, then one option is to talk via the web, however there might be certain aspects you may have not considered,

The First Reaction: With email, IM you would completely lose out on the first reaction. Even with a web cam often you can barely make out the persons features so as to get how they have reacted.

Response Delay: As the first reaction is lost, even later there is a delay in response which would affect both sides. Most of the voice, video chats that I have had always had a delay time, where I could hear the other side a few minutes later, moreover the video quality is usually quite bad. This delay in responses can become quite taxing when in a difficult and important conversation.

Misunderstandings and Clarifications: Especially in IM it often happens that the other person may not get your messages or you might not get their messages, due to a technical glitch. Sometimes the language used might give a very wrong impression. Some words like sick, ridiculous are actually used as a compliment by some! The only way this can be avoided is to have a voice conversation where you can make out the tone etc…

Option to Avoid: The person can avoid replying. Have you sent important emails to which there was simply no reply? Its quite exasperating and you having taken the efforts to have the conversation yields not much results. It also leaves you wondering whether the person checked the email and then did not reply or has he not checked the email at all.

On the record: Emails, IM’s can all be kept for ‘record’. They can be shown to other people. If this is not something you might be comfortable with then better not to have these online conversations!

Generally its worth making a long distance trip and having these talks face to face. If its not at all possible, then do it over the phone. I have found mobiles to be quite reliable for ISD calls. If you and ‘they’ have a good internet speed then video/audio web chats can suffice.

Have you had such difficult conversations online? What was your experience?

You might also be interested in my older posts:
Having Difficult Conversations
5 tips to have clear online communications

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