I often try to distinguish between immediate-feedback communication, such as talking in person, on the phone, or by instant message, and delayed-feedback communication, such as email. (Or at least, delayed in the sense that it's socially acceptable to not respond right away.)

I usually would say something like, "I'd prefer to discuss this in real-time," which usually gets the point across, but I'm wondering if there is a better way to describe this concept. ("Can we talk about this using an immediate-feedback medium?" sounds a little awkward.)

  • 4
    I think real-time is the word I'd reach for the most in this situation. Face-to-face is a related concept with additional physical presence. Directly might also be a word that could apply in this case.
    – Aaron D
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 0:15
  • One of the hallmarks of electronic textual communication is the ability to think before responding. One of the hallmarks of electronic textual communication is the frequency of not-thinking before responding. The concept of real-time communication, both face-to-face and telephonic (but not voice mail) is the lack of time to reflect, but the advantage of immediacy and transparency. Real-time sounds fine. Also live might work.
    – bib
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 0:16

2 Answers 2


In pedagogical terms, we talk about "synchronous" vs. "asyncronous" communication.

In synchronous communication, we're talking to each other at the same time; in asynchronous communication, you may not see what I'm saying as I'm saying it, and you may reply at a later time.

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    Hi, Sean, and welcome to English Language & Usage. This is a very promising answer, so I'm upvoting it—but I think it would be even stronger if you added a link to or citation of a reference authority that confirms your description of synchronous and asynchronous communication.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 17:43

Good question. In some ways, you are suggesting "active feedback" rather than passive, though that is not a common term and it doesn't mean "asap".

Tech companies I have worked for also discuss a "positive handoff" which means reaching out to the person actively, such as via phone (I just emailed you the report) or in person (Here is the report) as opposed to a passive medium like email or a phone message. This is used for accountability purposes (I had a positive handoff of the contract with client X on 1/1/11, so he can't say he didn't know it was finished...)


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