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Don’t just say hello in chat

santoshhari profile image Santosh Hari Originally published at santoshhari.wordpress.com on ・2 min read

So the official Microsoft Twitter account dropped a tweet that deeply resonated with me.

Please don’t just say hello in chat.

— Microsoft (@Microsoft) February 24, 2021

So what’s wrong with just saying hello in chat? For context, this assumes business chat like Teams or Slack. Well, consider the below exchange that happened earlier this week – Monday and Tuesday (aka Yesterday in below screenshot) – between me and a collaborator on a project.

A collaborator (West Coast) messaged me (East Coast) after hours (for me) with a "Hi" and no context. I generally don’t respond to chat messages after hours unless someone tags it "Urgent" or "Important" – as is our standing team policy. Well, as you can gather from above exchange, I did not respond until nearly 15 hours after the initial message was posted and it took another 3 hours to arrive at the context "something was not/working". As we work remote (and global), asynchronous communication is not only important but also necessary. But asynchronous communication only works if we give it context. We’re hardwired to be polite but saying "hi" in chat and then waiting 18 hours to provide context is a recipe for failure when it comes to asynchronous communication. Other forms of saying "hello" in chat:

  • "Hello X, got a minute?" (Instead: "Hello X, if have a minute can you please take a look at X?")
  • "Hey! I have a quick question" (Instead: "Hey! followed by actual question)

For more examples, read nohello.com. On a related note, I find people who use nohello as a permanent status on their chat as a little rude. So what is the solution? A passive aggressive chat bot that responds to Hi with a gif? Chime in with thoughts below

On a lighter note, that tweet evoked a hearty agreement from me, which lead to this hilarious exchange culminating in a response from the official Microsoft Twitter account. Always a good day when that happens.

You're welcome.

— Microsoft (@Microsoft) February 25, 2021

Discussion (2)

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hanpari profile image
Pavel Morava

Just make it company or chat policy. Write only meaningful yet polite messages.

I can fully relate to your pain. I am experiencing similar issues every now and then.

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eduardopech profile image
Eduardo Pech

That's a good idea to short the question and It's very fast the answer. Thanks for sharing!

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