Remote Communication: How to Maintain Psychological Comfort

During distance learning, students and teachers changed real communication into remote communication. Two months later, some peculiarities of such communication appeared, and even the norms of "digital" business etiquette became clear. The Head of the Department of General Psychology, Psychodiagnostics, and Counselling of the SUSU School of Medical Biology, Candidate of Sciences (Psychology) Svetlana Morozova told about how the nature of communication in the Internet is changing, and why it happens.

What do you think, do we interact the same way in a face-to-face communication and on the Internet?

"I think that we see real communication and communication on the Internet differently. Although at first glance it might seem that's not true. Indeed, social networks simplify our communication: people share any personal information in text, graphic or sound form, with its help you can analyse data about these people, create their image before meeting them. The Internet simplifies our lives, but at the present time it cannot replace real communication 100%. Communications on the Internet are deprived of the possibility of physical contact. For a person, it’s important not only to hear and see the interlocutor, but also to smell, tactilely feel him or her: pat on the shoulder, or to shake hands in business communication."

Communication with colleagues during working hours and students in the learning process takes place at the same platforms where communication with friends does. How not to give in to the desire to cross the border to familiarity as the subordination reduces?

"It is necessary to respect the interlocutor's boundaries in business, official and non-official virtual communications. It doesn’t matter if a student is in correspondence with the teacher by e-mail or in social networks - communication should not go to familiarity. Otherwise, it may cause psychological discomfort in the recipient.

Communicating at the university or beyond, we do not allow ourselves to violate business ethics. So on the Internet, users must also abide the rules of business communication. These are the unwritten principles of "digital" business communication, which both parties (the teacher and the student) must know about. Otherwise, conflicts are inevitable."

Usually a conflict arises if you violate someone's private space. Is such a concept applicable in the case of remote communication?

"In psychology, there really is a concept of "personal space", that is, a certain "comfort zone" where a person feels calm and confident. This zone acts as a buffer during interpersonal communication. It is important for a person that there should be a certain space around, which he or she considers private. The dimensions of this space depend on the degree of closeness with the interlocutor, on the forms of communication accepted in culture, on the type of activity, and so on. Private space is violated, if social norms are violated.

In virtual communication, private space refers to user's profiles on social networks, blogs, and online diaries. Researchers note that the principles of private space in real communication are largely repeated in virtual communication."


Photo: Svetlana Morozova, Candidate of Sciences (Psychology), Head of the Department of General Psychology, Psychodiagnostics, and Counselling

Has communication with students changed in a few months of remote work?

"Communication has changed - it has become remote. We are all presented with new communication requirements: in our university it is work with the Electronic SUSU portal that requires using distance educational technologies, applying the new regulations for conducting Final State Examination and the regulations for distance learning. This is necessary to avoid conflicts between colleagues, as well as between teachers and students.

It seems to me that during the distance learning students have matured. They became more responsible and punctual in the performance of work. The fact is that it is impossible to make terms with the portal, as it can be done with the teacher, or to explain that the work was not completed due to your feeling unwell. There are certain deadlines that you need to meet. Therefore, communication with the teacher has become more business-like".

What do students say about remote communication?

"Because of my professional "inquisitiveness", I asked students about the comfort in communication at present. One student majoring in Design replied that nothing had changed in her life, and even before distance learning, she carried out most of the communication in the virtual space. But for students majoring in Psychology, of course, this form of communication is still unusual. However during these months we have tried to master various forms of work in a remote space. Currently, the psychological methods are undergoing major changes, new forms of human exposure are being developed to provide psychological assistance using digital technology. We are preparing a project on this subject as part of a Master's degree programme."


Daria Tsymbaliuk; library photo by Svetlana Morozova,
Contact person: 
Daria Tsymbaliuk, tel.: 272-30-11
You are reporting a typo in the following text:
Simply click the "Send typo report" button to complete the report. You can also include a comment.