Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Fwiw, I agree with you about speaking in person. I will say though, that I've started to encounter younger people now who will actually come right out and say "I don't do well with face to face conversations and I'd prefer to discuss this on Slack or in a Google Doc" and they somehow get management support for that.

Maybe it's just my crazy company, but there seems to be some kind of thing going on where having any amount of social skills is no longer mandatory. And I'm not talking about awkward people who may be hard to talk to, I'm talking about people where you wouldn't realize anything is wrong and then they go complain to HR that they feel "put under too much pressure" by certain people in face to face conversations (it's not just me that get often reported for this, it's like half the engineers). It's not like they really "punish" anyone or anything for these ridiculous reports, but they also don't do anything to solve the issue of people refusing to talk face to face.




I am not young, and I do better with asynchronous communication. I don't mind chatting on the phone when it makes sense to, but I generally prefer email; it gives me time to think through what I want to say and make sure it's communicated correctly. On the phone, I wind up going silent for a minute to think things through, and other people get uncomfortable because of the silence.

Worth noting, it's not about social skills. It's about having the time to fully think through a complex issue and the information related to it. That just isn't possible during a synchronous conversation. You wind up having meetings where the things that get decided aren't the right things because people didn't have time to actually think through all the factors involved.


Sometimes it takes longer than a few minutes to think about something. I often write out my messages and not send them. Sleep on it, come back and delete to write something better.

I've found myself in many situations where sleeping on an issue provides a much better, thorough and more clever solution than just blasting off an email. If I were to provide responses face to face, there's a good chance I'd be giving bad advice that may cost companies a lot of money.


If you are on a team, and you know you need time & space to think things through, they should know it too (from you). It's your job to tell them, no? Then they either respect that and give you time when you need it, or don't. If they do, no issue. If they don't, they are going to go around you anyway whether you like it or not... just how work works.


> Fwiw, I agree with you about speaking in person. I will say though, that I've started to encounter younger people now who will actually come right out and say "I don't do well with face to face conversations and I'd prefer to discuss this on Slack or in a Google Doc" and they somehow get management support for that.

I can't shake the feeling that the underlying reason (perhaps unconscious) GP recommends using face-to-face conversations for persuading is that these conversations are more successful at their goal than the email equivalent. This is a bad thing, in my opinion. Worse for me (who's been persuaded) and worse for the company.

Compare with advertising. The conversion rate of door to door sales is far better than a classified ad - and the reason is that salespeople are trained to be aggressive, pushy, emotionally manipulative, and force hasty decisions to get what they want. They are able to use a whole raft of techniques to get you to buy that printed ads cannot.

Similarly, rejecting decision making during interpersonal interactions has nothing to do with one's social skills. It's about recognizing one's own susceptibility to being emotionally manipulated in a conversation and rejecting that way of making decisions. Good for me, good for the company.

It's not surprising to me that the "old guard" who's learned to use these techniques in the business world for decades is a bit put off by people rejecting them outright. Then again, I'm sure there are many people who have been in business for decades who are glad to be able to let their guards down a bit with the shift to email. It's not just the young who have this preference, though because most didn't acquire these skills, they are the majority.


  face-to-face conversations [...]
  aggressive, pushy, emotionally
  manipulative, and force hasty
  decisions 
Not every conversation is like that - I don't ask my children to e-mail a report on what their day at school was like :)


No, no. The reason I suggest face-to-face is because only face to face is good at conveying emotion. Everything else falls short in that respect, and because work has a lot of conflict involved, non f2f comms increase unnecessary conflict, slowing everything down, creating (!) personnel problems, etc. People arguing on Slack and email are an HR and management nightmare, they really are. Once you get someone to actually talk in person to them, and then get the parties to talk about the issue in person, things get magically resolved.


I sure hope it's just your company (any, it's not the case at mine). As someone who has difficulty communicating with people, I do anything important face-to-face if at all possible. I have enough trouble reading people as it is. I need all of the extra social cues I can get.




Applications are open for YC Winter 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: