Please don’t just say “hello”

Chances are you were sent here by someone within Slack, IRC or another chat after you’ve started the conversation just saying “Hello” or “Good Morning!” waiting for a response and now you’re curios what they tried to tell you with this link…

Have I done something wrong?

Well, yes and no:

  • It is polite to start the chat with an introduction.
  • When you’re just saying “Hello” and then wait for a reponse you either force your chat partner to either ignore your introduction or to respond to it wondering why you’ve started the chat in the first place.

Lets imagine Alice and Fred. Alice is working on something difficult and is highly concentrated on that task while Fred needs to ask Alice a question:

9:34 Fred: Hey Alice, I’ve got a question!
9:35 Alice: Hey, what do you want to know?
9:40 Fred: [asks his question]

In this example Alice received Freds chat, stopped working on the task she was working on and asked him how she can help. After she had done so Fred starts to type his question and Alice either tries to get back on her task or waits for him to complete typing his question as she’ve seen the typing indicator. Either case causes her to loose her focus on her work at least once and it probably will take her some time to get back to it.

Now lets take a look at another example:

9:34 Fred: Hey Alice, I was wondering whether you can tell me […]?
9:40 Alice: Hey, of course […]

Here some things went better than in the example above:

  • Fred had already finished typing his question and Alice was able to answer directly
  • Alice could instantly see whether the question needed to be answered directly or could be delayed: therefore she would have been able to postpone the response until she reached a point in her work where she didn’t need to maintain the context in her head