Now that we’re all used to Zoom, the question arises as to the courtesy of how to talk on a media which has an inherent lag time. The most common expectation is that you wait for the other person to finish speaking, then wait for the lag, then take your turn.

But I was raised in a part of the world where those expectations were not the norm for in-person conversations, and that half second of silence of lag time doesn’t fit into my sub-culture’s pattern of speech.

This isn’t just me. I found a blog post by Sam Bleckley that called this The Church of Interruption. In the post, Sam explains the two main cultures of 1-on-1 speech, one where it is rude to interrupt, and another where it is rude to stay silent.

This seems to be less of a problem online, where the other speaker can’t tell if you are actually interrupting or whether their connection broke, and you are instead just filling in the gap. But in any case, I try and solve this cultural mismatch between those expecting to speak until they are finished and those expecting me to reply as soon as I can move the conversation forward by apologizing for the interruptions, but I’m from New York.

I do hope that is sufficient for those who think me rude, but this is just one of hundreds of expectations that differ when trying to communicate between cultures

As my work has me emailing, Whatsapping, and speaking with someone from a different culture on a daily basis, its important for all of us to remember that there are many ways to communicate. None are best. All share the common desire to share information.

By "Luni"


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