Poll: Benefits and risks of social interaction

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jbw
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20 Jun 2014, 7:02 pm

This poll does not fit the simple ?select the most applicable option/statement? format.

Different forms of social interactions differ in at least the following three dimensions:

A. Understanding: Ability to communicate desired intent
B. Social risk: Risk of being perceived as aloof, rude, or uncaring
C. Effort: Overall stress level

I am curious how you experience these dimensions in the following social contexts on a scale of {Maximal, High, Medium, Low, Minimal}:

1. Video/phone conference (more than 2 participants)
2. Face to face group discussion
3. Video conversation (dialogue, only one dicussion partner)
4. Phone call (dialogue, only one dicussion partner)
5. Face to face conversation (dialogue, only one dicussion partner)
6. Email
7. Online forum discussion (public domain)
8. Instant messaging

In each dimension, assign ?maximal? and ?minimal? at least once, so that the responses are comparable.

My experience is the following:

1. Video/phone conference (more than 2 participants)
Understanding: Minimal
Social risk: High
Effort: Maximal

2. Face to face group discussion
Understanding: Low
Social risk: Maximal
Effort: High

3. Video conversation (dialogue, only one dicussion partner)
Understanding: Low
Social risk: Low
Effort: High

4. Phone call (dialogue, only one dicussion partner)
Understanding: Low
Social risk: Medium
Effort: Medium

5. Face to face conversation (dialogue, only one dicussion partner)
Understanding: Medium
Social risk: Medium
Effort: Low

6. Email
Understanding: High
Social risk: Low
Effort: Low

7. Online forum discussion (public domain)
Understanding: Medium
Social risk: Low
Effort: Minimal

8. Instant messaging
Understanding: Maximal
Social risk: Minimal
Effort: Minimal

What is your experience and what are your thoughts on this topic?



Ettina
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20 Jun 2014, 7:54 pm

A. Understanding: Ability to communicate desired intent
B. Social risk: Risk of being perceived as aloof, rude, or uncaring
C. Effort: Overall stress level

I am curious how you experience these dimensions in the following social contexts on a scale of {Maximal, High, Medium, Low, Minimal}:

1. Video/phone conference (more than 2 participants) - never had one
2. Face to face group discussion - Understanding Maximal, Social Risk Low, Effort Low
3. Video conversation (dialogue, only one dicussion partner) - never had one
4. Phone call (dialogue, only one dicussion partner) - Understanding High, Social Risk Minimal, Effort Medium
5. Face to face conversation (dialogue, only one dicussion partner) - Understanding Maximal, Social Risk Low, Effort Minimal
6. Email - Understanding High, Social Risk Minimal, Effort Minimal
7. Online forum discussion (public domain) - Understanding High, Social Risk Minimal, Effort Minimal
8. Instant messaging - never used it

My social issues mostly don't show up in a single conversation - only an extended relationship. I really struggle with making and keeping friends.



jbw
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20 Jun 2014, 8:20 pm

Ettina wrote:
My social issues mostly don't show up in a single conversation - only an extended relationship. I really struggle with making and keeping friends.


I agree that social issues don't show up in a single conversation.

Issues result mainly from repeatedly being perceived as aloof, rude, or uncaring by a particular person or group. Due to the implicit and often non-verbal nature of communication, in particular in a face to face context, we don't get told about these perceptions in explicit verbal/written terms until it is too late.

Furthermore, there is often a significant mismatch in the objective of interaction. I am interacting primarily to learn something or to reach a shared understanding on some particular topic. Others can have an entirely social objective, i.e. being recognised as friendly and compliant with established social norms. While I stress out about being understood and understanding others, the typical majority seems to stress out about being compliant with established social norms.



dianthus
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20 Jun 2014, 8:50 pm

I'd say it depends more on who I'm talking to and what the context is, rather than the medium of communication. But thinking as if all mediums are equal...


1. Video/phone conference (more than 2 participants)
Understanding - Medium
Social risk - Minimal
Effort - Minimal


2. Face to face group discussion
Understanding - Medium
Social risk - Medium
Effort - Medium


3. Video conversation (dialogue, only one dicussion partner)
Not applicable, never had one. Have instant messaged with a web cam but did not actually speak on video.


4. Phone call (dialogue, only one dicussion partner)
Understanding - Low
Social risk - High
Effort - High


5. Face to face conversation (dialogue, only one dicussion partner)
Understanding - High
Social risk - Medium
Effort - Medium


6. Email
Understanding - Medium
Social risk - Maximal
Effort - Minimal


7. Online forum discussion (public domain)
Understanding - Low
Social risk - High
Effort - High


8. Instant messaging
Understanding - Low
Social risk -Maximal
Effort - High


Also would like to add one more category...

9. Online chat (more than two participants)
Understanding - Minimal
Social risk - High
Effort - Maximal


Communication is generally most problematic for me when it's one on one but it's not face to face, as in phone, email or instant messaging. I feel like my intent is very easily misunderstood because the other person can't see my face. I just tend to avoid talking to people that way unless I feel very comfortable with them. If the other person knows me really well I am okay with it because they are not so likely to misunderstand me. Otherwise it can really become a disaster.

I've also had some horrible experiences with online chats. I've rarely participated in them because of it, but the few times I have, it was totally negative and very damaging.



jbw
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20 Jun 2014, 9:53 pm

dianthus wrote:
Also would like to add one more category...

9. Online chat (more than two participants)
Understanding - Minimal
Social risk - High
Effort - Maximal


Interesting. I only use this style of communication with a maximum of 3 participants, and then it feels not much different from instant messaging. I can imagine the effort going up with further people.

dianthus wrote:
Communication is generally most problematic for me when it's one on one but it's not face to face, as in phone, email or instant messaging. I feel like my intent is very easily misunderstood because the other person can't see my face.


Verbal conversation without face to face contact has a high risk of misunderstanding, but written communication is different, as it gives me time to think and select the right words.

The key factor in terms of understanding for me is the distinction between communication where I have a level of control over timing, allowing time for processing input and to think through what I want to express, and fast interactive communication where instant responses are expected.The latter constraint makes all verbal communication somewhat challenging.

Being able to see people's bodies and faces can help with decoding implicit messages, but the process is unreliable. Society trains us to make eye contact, but for me it requires conscious effort, and sometimes it can be a real irritation that derails my train of thought.

dianthus wrote:
I just tend to avoid talking to people that way unless I feel very comfortable with them. If the other person knows me really well I am okay with it because they are not so likely to misunderstand me. Otherwise it can really become a disaster.


Yes, phone calls with people who have never seen me are subject to a high risk of misunderstanding and a high social risk (being perceived as weird and worse).

My preferred choice for interacting with people the first time is in a setting that involves a white board. This constellation provides access to non-verbal body language and it reduces the expectation for eye contact.

With the few people who know me well, social risk is lower than indicated in my ratings, but the communication effort is still as indicated, because I do consciously attempt to minimise misunderstandings.

dianthus wrote:
I've also had some horrible experiences with online chats. I've rarely participated in them because of it, but the few times I have, it was totally negative and very damaging.


I have never participated in public online chats. I can imagine all kinds of trappings. I also only tend to use instant messaging with people who know me.



dianthus
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20 Jun 2014, 11:05 pm

jbw wrote:
Interesting. I only use this style of communication with a maximum of 3 participants, and then it feels not much different from instant messaging. I can imagine the effort going up with further people.


Well I think it is worse in a public chatroom, where anyone can come and go, vs. chatting privately with a smaller group of people where you can specifically invite who you want. Public chatrooms are the worst possible medium I could participate in, because things are so random and unpredictable, and conversations move along way too quickly for me to follow along. People use a lot of shorthand and abbreviations and it seems almost like they are writing in code.

Plus the social dynamics in chatrooms can be VERY weird and cliquey. The worst experiences of public humiliation in my life have been in chatrooms. They think nothing of insulting you or cutting you down and then the whole group just laughs over it like it's a big joke.

Quote:
Verbal conversation without face to face contact has a high risk of misunderstanding, but written communication is different, as it gives me time to think and select the right words.


Yes I like having more time in writing, to think about what I want to say and carefully choose my words. I don't know if it actually helps others understand me better though. Sometimes I think it makes things worse, if other people don't read my words with as much care as I wrote them.

Quote:
The key factor in terms of understanding for me is the distinction between communication where I have a level of control over timing, allowing time for processing input and to think through what I want to express, and fast interactive communication where instant responses are expected.The latter constraint makes all verbal communication somewhat challenging.


I am just not good with instant responses, unless they are basically scripted or rehearsed. It takes me some time to think about what to say. Unless I am talking with someone who understands my babbling, rambling, broken way of speaking, like my mother.

Quote:
Being able to see people's bodies and faces can help with decoding implicit messages, but the process is unreliable.


In my experience misunderstandings also happen face to face but they get figured out and overcome more easily than in writing.

Quote:
Society trains us to make eye contact, but for me it requires conscious effort, and sometimes it can be a real irritation that derails my train of thought.


Same for me. I have to really think about looking someone in the eye and when I do, I think I do it too intensely, too full on. Then I start thinking about timing it so I'm looking away and not just staring them down the whole time. And it is very overwhelming to make eye contact. It's easier to just look away.

Quote:
Yes, phone calls with people who have never seen me are subject to a high risk of misunderstanding and a high social risk (being perceived as weird and worse).


Yes, that is one of the most nerve-wracking things I could possibly go through.

Quote:
My preferred choice for interacting with people the first time is in a setting that involves a white board. This constellation provides access to non-verbal body language and it reduces the expectation for eye contact.


I hadn't thought of it that way, but yeah that's true, it does make things easier to have a white board, or any other kind of focal point that people can look at.

Quote:
With the few people who know me well, social risk is lower than indicated in my ratings, but the communication effort is still as indicated, because I do consciously attempt to minimise misunderstandings.


Sometimes risk can be higher for me with a person who knows me somewhat well (but not VERY well), because I have more to lose if we have a misunderstanding. Whereas if the other person doesn't really know me at all, I'm not losing as much, but it may be almost as anyway traumatic because of the frustration and effort involved.

Effort for me has a lot of different variables, for one thing the environment I'm in has a huge effect on things. Like if I'm in even a slightly noisy environment it is going to take a lot more effort to communicate.

Also the spontaneity or immediacy of it has a huge impact, like if someone stops me suddenly to ask for directions, it is probably the furthest thing from my mind at that moment so I have to really switch gears mentally. And there is very little risk for me personally because it is a stranger I will probably never see again. But I have to think really hard about phrasing it the right way so I don't confuse them or tell them something wrong, because I would hate for someone to be driving around confused because I didn't give good directions. And the pressure is really on because they are usually so antsy to get back on the road, they look almost like they are going to run away before I finish talking. So although it's a very brief, insignificant interaction, becomes a very high effort.



jbw
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21 Jun 2014, 6:01 am

dianthus wrote:
Quote:
My preferred choice for interacting with people the first time is in a setting that involves a white board. This constellation provides access to non-verbal body language and it reduces the expectation for eye contact.


I hadn't thought of it that way, but yeah that's true, it does make things easier to have a white board, or any other kind of focal point that people can look at.


I have only recently consciously realised that the reduction of eye contact is one of the reasons I love using white boards.

dianthus wrote:
Effort for me has a lot of different variables, for one thing the environment I'm in has a huge effect on things. Like if I'm in even a slightly noisy environment it is going to take a lot more effort to communicate.


Yes, agree, noise can have a huge impact.

Some variables have multiple components. Whilst I strongly dislike networking events, I really enjoy actively contributing to academic conferences, even if they involve large crowds of people. The alignment with my special interests (component 1), and the structured environment (component 2) make conferences much less taxing than the random environment encountered at networking events. Also, conferences allow me to retreat into my room as needed (component 3), and only to participate in particular activities (component 4). In contrast, an evening of informal networking leaves me completely exhausted for the next day or so.

dianthus wrote:
if someone stops me suddenly to ask for directions, it is probably the furthest thing from my mind at that moment so I have to really switch gears mentally. And there is very little risk for me personally because it is a stranger I will probably never see again. But I have to think really hard about phrasing it the right way so I don't confuse them or tell them something wrong, because I would hate for someone to be driving around confused because I didn't give good directions. And the pressure is really on because they are usually so antsy to get back on the road, they look almost like they are going to run away before I finish talking. So although it's a very brief, insignificant interaction, becomes a very high effort.


A perfect example or high effort communication. I am not good at memorising street names, and in this kind of situation my mind can go blank. It also does not help that I tend to use my bicycle and public transport to get around. Often I can only point in the general direction of the target location, but can not offer any advice on how to get there by car.