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[dupe] Please don't say just hello in chat (2013) (nohello.net)
461 points by talhof8 34 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 350 comments

It's not a dupe, this is a new, much better website based on the old.

>People who do this are generally trying to be polite by not jumping right into the request, like one would in person or on the phone - and that's great!

Different people have different reasons but I notice that many people that do a naked "hi" / "hey" are trying to see if the receiver is present for an immediate reply.

In other words, the sender deliberately wants a synchronous instead of asynchronous convo.

They don't want to type out a bunch of words for a question if the reply isn't going to happen for a few hours.

EDIT to reply: "Then send it in an email."

To clarify, some people don't want an async communication so switching to email doesn't solve their problem at all.

The issue is that some personality styles do not like sending questions into an indeterminant void. Thus, a naked "hi" for them is shorthand for "r u there to talk to me RIGHT NOW?"

I sympathize with their need for immediacy but I made a previous comment on why it drives me crazy: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17255452

Yep, some people are really confused as to why many async-preference people like me do not want to answer the phone.

This is a common theme in my workplace. Especially with everyone working remote and odd hours these days. We use both email and Slack, but most conversations tend to be asynchronous regardless and I frequently wonder why we even have an instant messenger.

That said, I find that even if a message is asynchronous, it is much easier to track conversation flow via slack than email. Reply chains and indentations get messy and become an eye sore to navigate. If I write, "Hey, did you do that thing?" and don't hear "Yep, it's done" for a day, I can more easily see the flow of thought in Slack.

Though, I would appreciate a more standardized practice around, "If Slack says you are available, we can expect you to respond relatively quickly" than seeing a green dot and not hearing back for hours or a day.

I still hate "Hello" and "Hi" messages though. It baits a response without putting in any groundwork for me to understand what a person wants. Just say what you need.

> Them: "Hello"

> Me: "What's up?"

> Them: "Are you available now?"

> Me: "Yes... What do you need?"

Flows like this make me come off as an asshole because I'm annoyed by the tedious nature of the conversation. Tell me what you need so I can know how to respond.

> Them: "Hey, when you have minute, can you take a look at the database?"

> Me: "Sure thing. Can do in about 15 minutes"

^ this is way easier to work with for me

> I would appreciate a more standardized practice around, "If Slack says you are available, we can expect you to respond relatively quickly" than seeing a green dot and not hearing back for hours or a day.

No. Slack does not know if I’m at my desk, busy, or even taking a protected me-time lunch break. And no, you cannot expect me to manually update my status in Slack, Teams, Zoom, and every other communication tool I’m forced to use every time I walk upstairs to nuke my coffee or use the bathroom.

Just ask your question, and wait fir a response. If you need me RIGHT NOW, then pick up your dang phone and call me.

Indeed, most people understand that Slack is not guaranteed timely delivery and knows that unless you get a reply the message may not have been received. Usually we just tap the thumb emoji to acknowledge we read and understood the request.

I added a loading indicator emoji at my workplace (and my previous one).

Slack sets you to "Away/Offline" after 10 minutes of inactivity by default, and by "relatively quickly" I mean, within an hour or two.

If you can't close Slack or update your status to let people know you are unavailable for long periods of time, what is the point of being on Slack? Or a team for that matter?

Barring an emergency, I'm not going to call someone directly because they're too busy working to (team)work.

If you can't play nicely on a team then maybe a different job is for you?

I am active.

I am just focused on an important task, and won't throw my hard earned flow away just to answer your "hi" for you to trap me into waiting you slowly type stuff and maybe even disappearing without getting to the point. If you can't articulate what's your subject at the moment you contact me, you'll get a very low priority.

(Yeah, there are some people that do it out of a paranoid level of politeness and are easy to talk with even though they won't initiate a request. I will gladly make an exception for them.)

> If you can't play nicely on a team then maybe a different job is for you?

This is a bullshit copout. It's a cultural issue if people cannot be respectful of their co-workers time.

It is very common that if something is important to use important modes of communication such as phone calls.

My team for example is very asynchronous because that is our culture. Our team is located all over the country and some people in different parts of the world. If any of us needs each other during our typical work hours and its important, it's usually a call over our VOIP system. NONE of us take Slack as an immediate answer messaging platform.

No, the bullshit copout is showing that you are available when you are not, to give the illusion that you are working <- which more a cultural issue than being disrespectful of people's time in my opinion.

I have nothing but respect for my coworkers personal time. I couldn't care less, personally, if you need to take hours, days, weeks, or even months off of work for whatever reason. Do what you need to do. However, if you are on Slack and suggesting to people you are available when you are not, that is bullshit to me. It's not difficult to close the app or update your status to put in an ounce of teamwork so people know how to work around your actual availability.

> No, the bullshit copout is showing that you are available when you are not, to give the illusion that you are working

I think you're ascribing a bit too much intention to what most people just ignore as the default setting on an application. I've never once touched my slack status settings, and I leave a slack tab open in my browser while I work, so I assume it probably shows me as online all the time when I'm working; I can't imagine I'm the only person like this. It never even occurred to me until reading your comment that this could somehow be interpreted as a signal that I would always be able to respond immediately to a slack message. If people started assuming that I would be able to respond immediately whenever slack showed me as offline, I would probably just configure it to show me as offline 24/7 (even at times when I am online). Keeping a slack tab open is just a way for me to save time from having to reopen it every time I _do_ actually want to check it (the website often takes several seconds to load), not some way to send a signal to my coworkers.

I do pay attention to Slack status, but I always figure it as a negative indicator -> This guy is definitely offline. It is not a guarantee that the person on the other end is going to see my message instantly.

> No, the bullshit copout is showing that you are available when you are not, to give the illusion that you are working <- which more a cultural issue than being disrespectful of people's time in my opinion.

me working != available to immediately respond to your question. I'm not going to drop all the context for a bug I'm close to fixing to reply to a slack message. if I've been working on a bug for hours and I'm nowhere near a solution, I might switch gears and help you with your issue. I can't know at the beginning of investigating a bug which state I'm going to be in when you ask your question.

Online status does not mean I am available, the online status tells my team that I am indeed, in my work day and they can message me and get a response when I'm actually available.

Clocking in physically at your job tells your employer you're working, but it doesn't mean you're available immediately for their attention.

Yes text chat tools have too little engagement.

I worked on a startup called Sococo (still exists; pivoted to be a WebRTC clone) that used a map. You could see each little bobblehead on the map, either in their office, in a conference room, in a break room, with our without their headset on.

You clicked your guy into the room to conference with people in that room. If you didn't want to be bothered, you put your bobblehead into your office and closed the door, maybe took your headset off.

You could see who was in meetings and with whom. You could see them flashing as they talked in turn. You wanted to interrupt somebody, you could knock on their door. They could 'let your in' or chat 'give me a minute' or whatever.

It included chat tools in the rooms, so you could have text side-conversations while the talking was going on.

It was very, very useful. The company that made it, had employees on 3 continents and 7 states. I didn't actually know where my coworkers lived, unless they told me. Yet I could communicate without friction.

I miss the old Sococo.

This looks... awesome, from a first glance. Takes up more screen real estate for sure, but it seems like a cool way to inject a bit of fun into remote work.

I can imagine some people would totally not be into this, but I'm not one of them.

i am confused. the explainer video looks like what you describe, how has sococo changed?

We used to support millisecond connect times, no squelching (everybody talked at any time), 100 folks in a conference, unlimited (thumbnail) videos and screen shares, always-on client that lived in your tool bar.

They went WebRTC which means Chrome. So its a browser page, takes up real estate, requires the right version of the browser, doesn't integrate with your desktop controls (audio, video) tightly, has ~1 second connect times, limits to half a dozen people tops, one video at a time. Which doesn't seem terrible until you click into a meeting and the voices come in one at a time over many seconds.

So large parts of the 'frictionless' are gone. You want to share something, get it to the right page, then draw attention to it - there's moderator gatekeeping, one-at-a-time rules.

Instead of everybody sharing whatever they liked, more than one share per person, all set up so anybody could look at anything they wanted without some moderator orchestrating it. You want to go back and look at Lucy's spreadsheet while Alice is talking thru her presentation? Just click on it, then click back into the presentation later.

We miss it.

If your status is "Online" it gives the impression that you are simply online, sure. If you are "Online" on an team-based instant messenger application, it also gives a certain impression...

Life happens, focus on work happens, bathroom breaks happen... Almost no one is available "immediately" all the time. But if you regularly show yourself as online and cannot respond within a reasonable amount of time (a couple of hours?) to questions/concerns that coworkers send to you, then why are you "Online"?

Is it difficult to close the app, change your status, or simply respond with "Hey, super busy today. I'll get back to you on this tomorrow", simply for the sake of building good team interactions?

> Clocking in physically at your job tells your employer you're working, but it doesn't mean you're available immediately for their attention.

Interesting. I figured that typically when you "clock on" for an employer, it signals that you are now engaged in a contract by which your time is now dedicated to what your employer needs you to do, including giving them your attention. Hence the term "clocking on"

> Life happens, focus on work happens, bathroom breaks happen... Almost no one is available "immediately" all the time. But if you regularly show yourself as online and cannot respond within a reasonable amount of time (a couple of hours?) to questions/concerns that coworkers send to you, then why are you "Online"?

I think you're actually somewhat agreeing with the above poster.

To me, being online means I will respond to your concern as soon as I can context switch to your problem cheaply - usually within 30 minutes, or maybe even instantly if you caught me coming off of a lunch/bathroom break.

> Is it difficult to close the app, change your status, or simply respond with "Hey, super busy today. I'll get back to you on this tomorrow", simply for the sake of building good team interactions?

I think it's a good habit to build. For example if it's nearing the end of the work day, and you have enough work to do, setting yourself to busy should indicate people not to expect your response until the next day.

> No, the bullshit copout is showing that you are available when you are not, to give the illusion that you are working

Sounds like your idea of how to use Slack is about 180 degrees out from mine. For my team, people put things on Slack and reply when they have time/ energy or holes in their flow. Sometimes you get an immediate reply, often its not for 10 minutes or an hour.

I'm curious what kind of job allows you to fool people into thinking you are working be being available in Slack? Certainly software developers can't get away with that. Regardless of what your Slack hours are, you need to deliver bug fixes and new code.

How do you suddenly go to "not working" and "taking time off" from this? That's a massive strawman.

So tell me, does slack set me to unavailable if Im in a different slack workspace? I have about two dozen communities I could be in, fortunately most of them moved to discord or telegram to avoid people like you

Does it say I’m unavailable if I have slack open in a browser tab and I’m using other tabs

What about the desktop app?

What about the mobile app?

Surely they all influence the status of each other

My life doesnt revolve around slack and slack status, why does yours?

> Barring an emergency, I'm not going to call someone directly because they're too busy working to (team)work.

I think that's the point. Very rarely do you need someone to respond immediately.

I agree.

I have mail notifications available, but nobody is expecting me to actually answer a mail the same minute it is sent. If I am working on something, I will wait until I have time for it.

Why should Slack be different? It's just another asynchronous communication tool. The conversations have the possibility to be synchronous, but that is up to the users's involved.

As others have pointed out, I reserve the right to be decide how I spend my time. A team player should not expect to be able to decide how my time is spent.

If I am busy and someone just sends a "Hi" message without any context, i will ignore it until I have finished my task unless I have a reason to suspect that it is urgent.

If people do this to me I don’t make any rush to answer. If they want to drag out the conversation it is on them. All my replies are async because I have ADHD and will likely be distracted by something else before you write your follow up question. I can’t sit and stare at a chat window waiting for dialogue, it just won’t happen.

A new one for me is that work email is filled with security audit emails.

Slack so far is not.

I’ll open up my email, see if any subject lines are important, I’ll then go directly to service and get info there. I basically never open actual work emails ever.

So tired of gotcha security

Stuff like that should be dumped to a dedicated folder. Maybe with an autodelete for messages older than a week.

Email filters are an office superpower.

> "If Slack says you are available, we can expect you to respond relatively quickly"

This means I am expected to manage my Slack status on a regular basis or deal with interruptions.

Do I turn off Slack when I'm coding? If you expect relatively quick responses, that's unlikely when I'm in the zone. Should I turn off Slack and turn it back on when g You'll have about 2 minutes to catch me about once every 20 minutes.

Usually I'm quite responsive, but sometimes I might be head down for an hour. Toggling my Slack status on and off 5-10 times per hour for that doesn't make sense.

I guess I could go something like «Hi I need one of you five people to give me some context on this topic I know little about right now so I can continue on my reasoning for what actions to take by the business to mitigate some problem” and just see who answers first. Now five people are context switching for no reason and I’m a legit problem. When I don’t know what I need. Synchronous communication is very efficient because of faster feedback loops. This is agile and some job types can have a lot of this. Like architects and management. And yes, I hate doing it. Pre March 2020 a strategically timed coffee machine meeting could fix some of these situations with less friction and better social outcomes for future cooperation.

Actually I typically say “when do you have some time discussing X?” And sent it to one or two people. Personally I don’t like the phone and it works bad with urls... I find it rather common for techies not to like the phone too much.

Although I am an advocate of the “just say hi” school of IM, your message above is a constructive way of explaining how you’d like me to interact with you.

I disagree, because putting the whole request in at the outset puts the responsibility on me, even if I'm not available.

Consider the following exchange:

Co-worker: Hi, AA.

Me: Hello.

Co-worker: I need some help, are you available?

Co-worker: Well, I'm actually past my shift, and you probably saw me available because I was reading an email. Can I hit you up in the morning?

Coworker: Sure.


Co-worker: Hi, AA. We have a client with a problem, and I could use your help. Please do X, Y, and Z. Okay thanks, bye.

Next Morning,

Boss: Why hasn't anyone responded to the client yet!?!

Co-worker: Gee, I dunno. I told AA about it hours ago...

If you have a boss that conditionally blames you for messages you haven't seen based on the content of those messages, I think you have a bigger problem than Slack decorum.

You’re describing a behavior that is highly frowned upon in the Israeli Defense Force, here described to Joel Spolsky by Tamir Nitzan:

> As for the expressions (pronounced “rosh katan” – little head, vs. “rosh gadol” – big head). This expression comes from the IDF, and as most military language, doesn’t quite translate into normal language. A “rosh katan” (literally “little head”, and I actually think it is the original expression which derived most likely from “pinhead”, the contrast later came in as a complement) is someone that does exactly what he’s told.

>[An] example: you tell a soldier to “go notify so-and-so that we will be ready for inspection at 1600”. By 1700 you’re curious, so you ask him “did you notify?”. [A “rosh katan’s”] answer might be “well I called his office and left a message”. A “rosh gadol” would likely say: “I called his office but got his voice mail, so I left a message. I called back an hour later but still got voice mail, so I called his cell phone and left a message there too. I tried him again an hour after that and he assured me he will be here by 1600. I called him again 20 minutes ago and he said he was on his way but stuck in traffic” (a real “rosh gadol” would have notified his C.O. of all this without being asked of course).


Keep in mind that variant 2 takes an exorbitant amount of effort compared to variant 1.

If you're multitasking and have other responsibilities, it's not always prudent to give every task such detailed attention, especially if it requires you to context switch.

It may work in the army, where you don't really have much creative/deep work going on, but I've seen those expectations fail in the workplace.

You can generalize this pretty easily by understanding what is important and what isn't. It doesn't matter how creative or deep you think your regular work is. If it is very important that this person gets to the meeting and you have been tasked with making that happen, then you should be behaving like in the second example regardless. If it's important they be there and you have other work with higher priority and you think you can't do both, then you should immediately communicate that and have the responsibility of getting through to the other person reassigned. If it's not important this person come, then everyone should be fine with a message and if they make it they make it but everyone should know that upfront.

I'm not sure I buy that example; if it's a time-sensitive issue, Co-worker can't just fire something off into the ether, receive no ACK, and then wash their hands of it. That's a deeply broken process.

If they don't hear back from you in scenario 2, they should find someone else. If they absolutely need you then there should be some way they can escalate to a higher-priority channel (phone probably). (And I certainly hope you have an "on-call" status of some kind.)

There's a happy medium, where you can give some indication about the nature of the request while recognizing that the person may not be available to tackle it right away:

Co-worker: Hi, AA. We have a client with a problem, and I could use your help to do X, Y, and Z. Are you available?

If you don't reply after a few minutes, it's clear that you're not available and they can seek help elsewhere with an on-the-clock or on-call resource.

That’s better done by sending the request to a team channel, so everyone can see if anyone already answered (and learn from seeing the answer!)

If it’s an emergency, page the oncall. If you are the oncall, page anyone you need, and then Slack/Zoom become realtime (at least for them).

People understand that chat/ messaging/ Slack is asynchronous.

There is no onus placed upon you here except perhaps in your hypothetical head.

Far more likely is:

> Co-worker: Hi, AA. We have a client with a problem, and I could use your help. Please do X, Y, and Z. Okay thanks, bye.

> AA: Crickets...

> Co-worker (5 minutes later): You there?

> AA: Crickets...

> Co-worker: Oops, just noticed it's 5:54, I should have known you'd have punched out already, I got it.

That motivation is logical, but I think it's more considerate to type out just a few words so the recipient has some idea what's up.

For example, "hi, i have a question about web config files" or "hi, i need help with a SQL query" or "hi, we may have a production issue" or "hi, i want to propose a change to how we do builds".

This allows the recipient to prioritize. Just because they are present doesn't mean that now is a good time for every conversation.

In my experience, people who prefer synchronous communication are much more likely than those who prefer async to think that now is always a good time to have whatever conversation they want to have. Therefore, asking them to consider whether now is a good time will not make any difference. That condition always returns true for them.

I'm not sure whether we agree or not, but I disagree with your examples. It's not enough to categorize your need, you should at the very least summarize your needs. Including an urgency and a reason why you need the person's feedback or help would not go amiss.

> "hi, we may have a production issue"

Do we or don't we? How urgent is it? Do you need help with the issue or do you need help determining whether there is an issue?

I have no idea, so I have to drop what I'm doing to find out because you said the magic word 'production'.

Totally agree. I also hate it when people assume that I'm synchronous even though I may respond quickly to the first query by chance.

I usually periodically take breaks to batch process all instant messages and then mute notifications until the next break. If I've already responded to your first question chances are I won't return to your chat window until the next break.

I'm also not opposed to synchronous conversations, it just needs to be scheduled. So the first question should not be "Hey how was your weekend" but rather "Hey how was your weekend, and what time this afternoon could you spend 30 minutes with me chatting about (A) (B) (C)"

changed with some urgency descriptor like "when you get time" or "boss wants it by COB, will call in a couple hours in case you haven't seen this". I agree that Hi is not enough. Have a purpose and convey it. We're all adults here. Email is probably still better for this and less "conversational"

The thing is, as mean as this may sound, sometimes whether I'm available for a synchronous conversation entirely depends on what's being asked.

Is a customer pissed off, or something crashing? Of course I'm available. If it's "what do you think about this feature a minor customer asked for", I'm more than happy to answer it, but I'm not going to drop whatever I'm doing to answer it right now.

When you just say "hello" and wait for a response, it prevents me from taking the seriousness of the request into consideration.

Yup, if you want synchronous communication with me it better be an emergency or you better be an important person in my life, otherwise, you get async communication.

A lot of things are better handled asynchronously and timing is often abused and exploited in synchronous communication by the person initiating it. They want to pressure you on the spot to make a decision or choice you otherwise would rather think about. They want to use well planned out strategies and game you with social or culture pressures to manipulate you into doing something you otherwise wouldn't.

I limit synchronous communication to those I either have to or those I enjoy to be around and aren't there to try and exploit me for some reason. If you're new, you get some leeway but quickly progress one direction or the other as I decide which list you get chucked into.

> In other words, the sender deliberately wants a synchronous instead of asynchronous convo.

"Hello" is a pretty bad negotiation protocol for that. At best, the person is online and can initiate synchronous communication (but has to sit around and wait before they can start thinking about your desired context), at worst you get stuck in an endless loop of "Sure, you there?" Furthermore, what if the person wasn't available right now? Do they simply ignore your "Hello?" That would seem more rude. In addition, and ultimately, if the sync communication negotiation fails, you're probably going to have to fall back to async; so you may as well leave the door open to that.

"Hey, just want to chat quickly about that thing, if you're not around I'll ask Alice." That contains the full description of what you want, is concise, and will allow the recipient to not waste their time.

The way I see IM is that every conversation starts with what would be a subject line in an email if a longer conversation is required (whether sync or async). This gets everyone thinking about the context right away and improves your ability to search for that conversation in the log.

don't want to answer the phone

That's me too, but conversely WFH over the last 10 months with zoom has made me more amenable to having meetings. Because when there is a need to talk synced, we can do it and have just a 15 minute meeting and that's all.

IRL, it seems like people are reluctant to schedule any block shorter than half an hour and typically go 10-15 minutes longer than scheduled, combined with working in a large area where I might have to walk 10 minutes back and forth to the meeting location.

Rarely would any meeting eat less than 1.5 hours of my time. Now, it can sing be 15 minutes.

> They don't want to type out a bunch of words for a question if the reply isn't going to happen for a few hours.

I'm trying really hard to understand this mindset. What sort of question either needs to be answered immediately or not at all?

Personally, I always try to give people all the details up-front, but here are some rough situations where I'm likely to give people a very short summary instead of a full verbose request for reasons like you asked about:

If they respond immediately they can save me 30 minutes of work, but if not I'll be done doing it the slow way by the time they get back to me.

I'm making slow progress on a tricky problem. If I write a summary now, it would be theories I'm trying to disprove and evidence that currently seems relevant, but that summary will be less useful and accurate as the situation evolves and I better learn about the issue.

I can be unblocked on this task in three different ways, so I've reached out to three different people. I'll ask for help from whoever responds first.

I don't know if this is going to take me 30 minutes, or 3 days to figure out, but I'll keep working on it until I do. If it's still a problem when you get back to me, I'll ask for help then, but there's a good chance I might have solved it myself by the time you get back to me.

I'm dealing with an outage, and it's very time-sensitive. I don't have time to waste writing stuff up if you're not here to help out right now. If you show up while it's still broken, great! If you show up after the outage is fixed, I don't need your help anymore. I'm not calling you, because if you're not currently at your computer, you probably can't help me in the timeframe I need.

Thanks for your response. I suppose the biggest problem I have with this approach is that its goal appears to be saving as much time as possible for the message sender, with little regard for the time of the message receiver.

Several of the message recipients will eventually need to be told "never mind, I fixed it". By employing this strategy, you need to accept that you will be interrupting at least some people for no reason, every single time, and I don't think that's fair.

A problem that could potentially be solved by three people feels like it would be better suited for a public channel. Why is pinging three different people with a "hello" message better than posting "does anyone with experience in X or Y have time to help me with Z" in the developer channel?

Perhaps they want to move onto someone else who may be available sooner.

I have a complex problem that needs fixing quickly. I do not want multiple people working on the problem as they are likely to interfere with each other.

So, I have a limited set of people that can fix my problem. I need to check who is available, and I'm doing this in order of my own preferences. (who I think can resolve the problem fastest)

However this is very much an edge case. I'm a proponent of just asking the question without saying hello at all.

Yeah one thing that annoys me even more is "cold-calling".. E.g. ringing me on teams without asking if I'm there first.

One of the good things about remote working is that I can finally concentrate on stuff without constant interruptions.

Haha I can understand why that bothers you of course, but I find it amusing that I feel exactly the opposite way. I would usually much prefer that someone try phoning me or (of initiating a call on slack or zoom) that go through the "hi, time to chat? When is good, etc?" Slack has icons to indicate availability, if mine is green, I really wish people would just call.

Yeah good point... It depends on the role too, I think..

I tend to do in-depth technical work and as such I need to concentrate often. Basically this thing: https://imgur.com/xvNRKIT

I can imagine that if you're in a more collaborative role, this can be completely different.

And yes I hate it more when I'm on Busy. In our company the status seems to matter none at all.. Even when I'm on Do Not Disturb (one grade more than Busy) people tend to keep pinging when I don't answer.

You seriously want people to completely distract you from whatever you're doing, using loud noises and popups?

If my status is green it means people can send me a message, and expect a response within a reasonable amount of time. Any calls will be instantly declined with a message, "Why are you calling me??"

I'm easily distracted so getting a message breaks my focus anyway. If that's going to happen, I'd rather it happen in one call than in a prolonged back and forth by chat, and then eventually a call. If I really need to focus I just turn notifications off.

For me, it can also be a privacy thing. Sometimes I want to validate that my chat is not going to got onto a presenters screen somewhere.

The fact that the following messages shouldn't be shown publicly is useful information to convey, and I feel like conveying that avoids wasting the first message -- If it explicitly says that what follows needs to be private.

(The recipient needs more than "hi" to know that what follows is private)

Not necessarily. The context of the presentation and/or the sender could be enough to determine that.

This is a serious issue with the massive increase in video calls and screen sharing (and people being oblivious to or not caring about this). Not just chat but also email notifications with previews. This has become something I actively consider before communicating by text instead of calling someone. It would be great if teams, zoom etc could automatically and by default prevent any notifications from popping into a shared screen. And then there’s still the people who leave their mail and chat opened and just cmd-tab through them or leave them on screen while sharing... oh well :)

FWIW, OS X has a do not disturb toggle for this very reason. It's slightly hidden, but easily found with Google. That many people don't bother, is just how people are :/

This is why I use slack in a web browser, and don’t give it permission to display notifications.

I wish there was a way to permanently disable the “you have disabled notifications” prompts though.

Hmm I just disabled notifications in the normal slack client. Not sure why you would use the web browser?

It's not that notifications can't be disabled by clicking a few extra buttons, it's that those extra buttons are outside the usual workflow. Going into presentation mode in Keynote/Powerpoint/Google Slides doesn't also go into the slack client and disable them, nor does it for other programs that pop up notifications (eg skype, windows update/app store updater), and why should it? Keeping slack confined to the web browser sets this boundary neatly, so long as you don't also allow the web page to display notifications (which chrome will do if you let it).

Is it harsh to say that the people I know who do this are also just not as sharp generally?

I’m not sure if this is unique to me, but there’s a tight correlation between people who send naked initial “hi” messages and people who can be more tedious to work with.

I’d also wonder if it’s related to being bad at typing.

I don't think they're any less "sharp" in general; it's just a lazier communication style that offloads (perhaps unintentionally) some of the work onto the other person.

to be effective at async communication, you have to not only ask your question, but also anticipate all the context that person will need to give a good answer. then you do your best to condense that into a clear and concise initial message.

in synchronous communication, I find that much more often the asker just asks their question and expects the recipient to come up with all the pertinent followup questions themselves. the asker might even feel they are more productive in this mode, since they don't have to account for the time/effort needed to gather context.

> "to be effective at async communication, you have to not only ask your question, but also anticipate all the context that person will need to give a good answer. then you do your best to condense that into a clear and concise initial message."

I'd argue this skill is also what makes a person good at basically doing anything and the better you are at it, the 'sharper' you'll be. Thinking clearly and accurately modeling surrounding context is a prerequisite for doing it well. I'd guess it aligns with being generally smarter.

I agree with what you're saying, I just think it's even more evidence that it's tied to general sharpness.

Wanting a synchronous conversation is a pretty arrogant grab of someone else's time.

This is also why phoning me is bad and please use texts like a civilised person.

That's pretty presumptive. There are any number of factors that might make a synchronous conversation desirable or even necessary. Merely seeking that out implies nothing about how someone values other people's time.

Could you please name at least one that would warrant a "naked greeting" like that though?

"Production issue" comes to mind, but that would just as likely warrant a quick summary of the situation, since waiting for a response to "hi" wastes even more time.

Your boss has 10 reports and he needs to talk to all of them within an hour to tell some bad news face to face before it’s announced impersonally via email.

I probably would be slightly more verbose saying “hey, got a sec?” but honestly it’s a style question and if I’m on the receiving end it’s not going to bother me.

I find much of the discourse around slack etiquette to be slightly self-absorbed. The fact is, things work best when everyone is a bit flexible and understanding. Bottom line is there are reasons why a synchronous ping is justified, but it’s impossible for both parties to agree on it without knowing their mutual disposition. Generally it’s nice to not ping people too often, but also it’s okay to set boundaries and not respond right away (or just turn off slack for heads down time). In extreme cases I suppose I can imagine a company with an unbearable slack culture that makes it impossible to be an effective developer by enforcing an “always available” policy, but I think that’s probably pretty rare compared to places where things will go fine just by having the assertiveness to use some simple tactics mentioned above.

Then they can call me.

Although synchronous conversation is often desirable, there are different ways to initiate it.

IMO it's more polite to use an async channel first to ask if the other party is available for a phone call, and if not, schedule a phone call for a specific time. Like, I'd love to talk with you about that problem this afternoon, but right now I'm too busy debugging another problem.

Worth noting that the linked site advocates against this:

> × "Hello, are you around?"

> × "hi sophie - quick question."

> × "You got a sec?"

I agree with you around scheduling synchronous communications, but the thread itself seems to have devolved into a puristic argument against all sync comms regardless of urgency, ephemerality, confidentiality, etc.

"you got a sec?" and "you got a sec to talk about X?" are worlds apart. whether I have "a sec" can quite reasonably depend on what X is.

The fact it has potential excuses should make it clear it's default selfish without them.

> Wanting a synchronous conversation is a pretty arrogant grab of someone else's time.

This is an assumption, and not always a valid one. There are plenty of circumstances where synchronous comms are warranted, such as when matters are urgent for all parties or when the respondent has a reputation for losing track of async comms.

Editing to add:

I agree that "hey" and "hi" etc. are terrible openings. However, openings (incidentally also discouraged by the linked article) such as:

> × "Hello, are you around?"

> × "hi sophie - quick question."

> × "You got a sec?"

are absolutely fine in that they imply a level of urgency and need for synchronized communication. If someone's ideologically against it and inflexible towards accommodating urgency where appropriate, it's a productivity red flag.

And I'm speaking as a modestly introverted manager who tries to avoid sync comms unless absolutely needed, but the thread seems to have gone off the deep end by arguing that sync comms are absolutely unnecessary.

Absolutely, but it's still polite to schedule the synchronous call via async.

"hey, need to talk urgently about x, are you available at 2?" or "...can you call me ASAP?"

There's very few situations that warrant getting someone else to unexpectedly drop whatever they're doing and pay attention to you, right now.

On the other hand, I'd actually go further and say there's lots of situations where sync communications is significantly more efficient. The most obvious example is when both sides are exchanging information in the "discovery" phase of a discussion where most of the back and forth is one-liner questions or statements - essentially where two parties are trying to sync up and get on a level playing field. Similarly, brainstorming over sync can save paragraphs of wasted keystrokes.

Often what can take days over async can take minutes if done synchronously. The key is synchronous communications should be scheduled or solicited - even if done only a few minutes in advance.

> Absolutely, but it's still polite to schedule the synchronous call via async.

Maybe this is a failing on my part, but I'm having a hard time understanding how these:

> × "Hello, are you around?"

> × "hi sophie - quick question."

> × "You got a sec?"

(specifically the first and last of these) aren't a form of urgent scheduling. At the very least, the last one is unambiguously asking if there's immediate availability, which generally implies urgency of some form.

The difference is those examples don't allow the listener to decide how urgent the matter is.

If my boss tells me something is urgent, by definition it is. If anyone tells me it's an emergency, I drop what I'm doing and help—but it better be a real emergency.

Now, if Mike from Accounting wants to talk urgently, I may not be available because I have my own list of urgent things to tackle. I will try to carve out time and prioritize his request, but I am in no way committed to his personal sense of urgency.

> Now, if Mike from Accounting wants to talk urgently, I may not be available because I have my own list of urgent things to tackle. I will try to carve out time and prioritize his request, but I am in no way committed to his personal sense of urgency.

That's fine, and that's for you to decide. But Mike from Accounting may have a reason to withhold the details for a different channel or to mitigate against other potential risks. It's up to you to decide with the information you have whether it meets your standard of urgency.

Mike doesn't need to share the details. He just needs to tell me what it's about and ask when I'm free. I'll be happy to carve out time in my schedule and offer up, say, 30 minutes at 2pm. If he needs to talk sooner than that, he can make a counter proposal and say "this is really urgent, can you talk sooner?" and I will weigh it accordingly

Overcommunicating is better than undercommunicating.

> Mike doesn't need to share the details. He just needs to tell me what it's about and ask when I'm free. I'll be happy to carve out time in my schedule and offer up, say, 30 minutes at 2pm. If he needs to talk sooner than that, he can make a counter proposal and say "this is really urgent, can you talk sooner?" and I will weigh it accordingly

I think this thread has reached its apex.

Not every message's contents ("what it's about") can be conveyed asynchronously, but I'm failing to communicate this, so I think I'll bow out.

Thanks for working with me on this.

I'm kind of surprised about how much pushback you're getting on this. If I was working in person, someone coming up to me and asking "do you have a sec?" would be a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Even if I worked in a private office, someone knocking on the door would deserve enough attention to explain their situation. I don't think I've ever worked at a place where I could get away with telling my colleagues "don't come talk to me unless we have an appointment". Being available to help is part of the job.

People like to maintain control over their own time and attention; I totally get it. But you're right, I'm also surprised at the extremes to which people are taking it, going so far as to assume that ephemerality and confidentiality mean the conversation is somehow immoral or illegal.

That's the kind of argument law enforcement makes against the use of encryption. It's an interesting double standard on HN.

I work infosec. My frame of reference is different from many here. But there are many times where I:

• want to ensure a synchronous conversation about an urgent matter, and

• don't want someone forwarding a "quick blurb" ("Hey, eganist here. Got an urgent moment to talk about something unusual we're seeing with web service X?") and spreading workplace gossip about a security anomaly when the anomaly itself is still being investigated to determine whether it's an incident.

Those are good reasons for phoning, yes, but even then you'd be better if you're stuck in text to start off with as much urgent information as possible. "Hi Bob, the wobbulator sprocket is on fire and I need to you defusticate the gonksnaffler immediately."

Unless the matter has an ephemerality requirement, in which case I message seeking immediate availability and then transition to a phone call.

A signal call if the matter needs to be both ephemeral and confidential.

Insisting on asynchronous communication for All The Things™ concerns me in that it shows that a person isn't adaptable to varying criticalities and sensitivities. The same goes for insisting on synchronous communication.

TL;DR they both have their place, and they will always both have their place regardless of any one person's preference.

Even in that case, "Are you around for a call?" gets the point across far better than "Hey, are you there?"

Most people don't need to deal with ephemeral requirements. I've been in software for over a decade at a variety of businesses, and without fail the only times someone's been worried about talking over discoverable mediums they've been considering something that's anticompetitive or potentially illegal. The vast majority of people I've interacted with don't do things like that, and the few I do I don't want to work with.

> Even in that case, "Are you around for a call?" gets the point across far better than "Hey, are you there?"

Can I ask the difference between these two in practical terms?


> the only times someone's been worried about talking over discoverable mediums they've been considering something that's anticompetitive or potentially illegal.

Interesting. In my case, it's without fail been circumstances where message control (specifically anti-forwarding) was paramount. I suppose it boils down to differences in our roles.

"Are you around for a call" tells me that you have something to discuss that you think shouldn't be discussed over IM. In practice, it means something deeply confidential (usually related to HR or legal).

"Are you there" means you're an intern or, worse, a full timer who hasn't figured out how to properly communicate yet who has some random question for me that you probably think is urgent but probably isn't.

The former I agree with. The latter I've always interpreted to mean the former.

I guess this is where our experiences diverge. I've never encountered what you described with the latter; it's always been someone who followed up with a call.

I don't care, but FWIW, I often don't reply anything at all until the messenger doesn't elaborate on his greetings, even if I'm present and could answer otherwise. I mean, if he doesn't, he probably didn't need it that much anyway...

What you say seems to make sense. but the reality tends to be more:

10:15: Them: Hello 10:!5: Me: Hey! What's up. 10:34: Them: Can I ask you a question 10:34: Me: Sure, what's up? 12:15: Them: I'm having a problem with [insert software] 12:15: Me: What's the problem? 12:45: Them: It's not working. ..... 5 hours later... 18:41: Them: Do you think it's because i didn't fill out this field marked required?

They should learn to cut the crap and summarize, a good skill.

> They don't want to type out a bunch of words for a question if the reply isn't going to happen for a few hours.

Then send it in an email.

Depends on the mode of communication that's been determined to be most reliable with the person in question. I've resorted to synchronous comms when the other party is notoriously bad at responding async.

...which would likely persist regardless of whether the request is emailed or messaged.

So that answer returns in few days if ever? Perfect plan.

If I’m the type of person to get annoyed at a carrier-only “hi”, I’m not going to give you a fast response to your content-free interruption either.

It's not just a question of personal preference. I often find myself in situations where I can solve a problem in <1 min if I can ask someone a question. I also know I can solve it without their help, but it will take me many tens of minutes (as I reverse-engineer their code or something like that). In a situation like that it makes sense for me to inquire if they can answer my question now, but an asynchronous inquiry will probably be a waste of their time because by the time they get around to answering it I will have figured it out on my own already.

Then include that in your initial message.

Awful: "Hey"

Bad: "Hey, are you around?"

Tolerable: "I have a question about foo"

Good: "How does foo audit log requests?"

Great: "How does foo audit log requests? If you don't know offhand, no problem - I'll keep looking at baz"

The problem with your "great" formulation is that my interlocutor does know, and I know she knows (because she wrote the code). What I don't know is whether she is in a position to give me an answer right now, which is what I need for it to do me any good.

So I usually open with "Ping..." which everyone I deal with knows means, "Are you in the mood to be bothered with a quick question that needs an immediate answer?" And I only do this with people I know prefer chat over email all else being equal because they will initiate chats with me. Otherwise I go straight to email.

Then just say "never mind, figured it out" when it's no longer relevant.

There is another consideration: composing an inquiry designed for asynchronous comms requires a lot more effort than synchronous. If I know the exchange is going to be synchronous I can be a lot more sloppy in my formulation because I know I'll be there to clarify ambiguities, provide missing info, etc. in real time. If it's going to be asynchronous I have to put a lot more effort into making sure that the inquiry is self-contained, unambiguous, etc.

This is disrespectful of the time of the person you're talking to. Taking the time to write a good question is important. This is true in synchronous and asynchronous conversation.

A class of problem as big as the "No Hello" problem is asking questions that are way too specific, like "How do I get a list of which windows are on which desktops" when the actual question is "How should I move a window to another desktop" and the person asking the question is too deep into what they assume is the right path.

The person answering your question is doing you a favor; please be respectful of them.

I would not say that most questions I answer at work are "favors". Answering questions is one of my job duties.

Surely you can ask the question, continue working, and then if the question becomes moot come back and either delete the original or leave a new message that says "never mind, found it!".

Yes, of course I can, but that's not a perfect solution. Suppose it turns out that I was mistaken in my belief that the person I'm asking knows the answer off the top of their head. They see my chat which by now is (say) an hour old and start to work on finding an answer because they think it's important. Half an hour later they've figured it out, come back to answer, and see that my original inquiry has been deleted. At best they would be puzzled, at worst annoyed that I've wasted their time.

Human communications are laden with subtleties. Synchronous comms are fundamentally different from async, and it's important to know which one you're actually engaged in so you can adjust your behavior appropriately.

But what it means is that they then take up more of the other person’s time as they sit and watch the typing notification. At least have the question ready typed so you can copy paste it into the message box.

The solution is: "Hi jasode, do you have a few minutes to talk about X. I'm available after 2pm. Please let me know what time works for you. Thanks"

For immediate replies I’d usually use “you there?” or “free for a quick chat?”. The naked greeting is just begging to get ignored.

Or just ask the question and when your internal timer goes off, follow up with some polite version of “nvm”.

The linked page advocates against these on the same premise, which is my primary challenge with it. It ignores urgency.

If it's urgent then you should probably take a few seconds to explain why.

Probably, yes, but not always. It depends on the matter.

If you didn't, then I'll be forced to assume it's not important. At least you clearly didn't care enough to put in a tiny amount of effort.

> If you didn't, then I'll be forced to assume it's not important. At least you clearly didn't care enough to put in a tiny amount of effort.

That's your prerogative, but it also exposes you to corporate risk if it in fact was a sensitive matter with urgency and it's deemed that the necessary communication attempts were made.

Deciding right off the top that communication isn't urgent takes precedent. If it's the first time they're messaging you, best not to chance the urgency until they have a track record with you.

> it also exposes you to corporate risk if it in fact was a sensitive matter with urgency and it's deemed that the necessary communication attempts were made

You're joking, right? I'll print your chat history of a single "hi" and that'll be all the evidence I need to clear my name. That print-out is going on my wall afterwards. You're funny.

> You're joking, right? I'll print your chat history of a single "hi" and that'll be all the evidence I need to clear my name. That print-out is going on my wall afterwards. You're funny.


> Director, HR. First interaction with this user.

> 2:30: "Hey, this is a matter with urgency. Got a second?"

> missed call at 2:33pm

> 2:45: "Hey, I've reached out to your manager Taylor J. to resolve the matter."

Hey, you took my advice! You specified that the matter had urgency! Good job!

> Hey, you took my advice! You specified that the matter had urgency! Good job!

No, not at all. You requested a description of the topic. Urgency, whether explicit or implicit, is always there when someone requests a synchronous conversation.

Edit: as a reminder,

> If it's urgent then you should probably take a few seconds to explain why.

Sorry you misinterpreted. Urgency is not "Why," and my example mentioned urgency explicitly without "taking the time to explain why."

Gaslighting someone in a discussion makes me less inclined to communicate. Wish you the best.

TFA is literally about people just saying "hi".

To be fair, I’d use “you there?” with coworkers I know, and who know me. Since I don’t usually begin by saying hi, they know I’m actually looking for them immediately.

And I can also use the phone if it’s really urgent.

Just shorten that to syn

> They don't want to type out a bunch of words for a question if the reply isn't going to happen for a few hours.

But if I'm not immediately available, they'll presumably need to ask someone else, or accept that they have to wait for a reply. Either way they will need to type the question at some point. So type it now, and if I don't immediately reply, paste the same question to the next person, etc or better yet put it in a channel, where my teammates can jump in.

And frankly, the norm that people should try to ask a clear question, or frame an actionable request up front often seems to improve the understanding of the requesting party. I've many times had the experience where pulling together the relevant info to frame a question answers it, or fully describing a task reveals a way to streamline it.

I feel like there’s a pretty straightforward answer to this. Rather than straight asking the question, you can ask for whether they have a moment to chat about _____.

If you send that, now I know you’re asking for a synchronous conversation, and I can just say yes or no or “how about later?”

Oh I have one friend like this. He's lurking there and typing occasionally "Hi" when he feels I might be there. I know that if I answer immediately, I'll lose half an hour of my life. So after seeing the message I deliberately wait a few hours, and then answer "hi" and immediately log out.

I consider it rude to demand someone's attention for an extended period of time without asking for it first. At the beginning of synchronous communication I always ask "Can I take N minutes of your time?" - this allows the interlocutor to evaluate the situation and make an informed decision.

At the same time I feel we should develop the culture "it is perfectly fine to be a nice and well-behaved person and not to answer phone calls at all, only returning them when possible".

> I consider it rude to demand someone's attention for an extended period of time without asking for it first.

“Hi, busy atm.”

You’ve built this whole strategy, and are judging your friend as rude, to avoid this phrase.

Be explicit or accept people as they are.

First, I would have to reply “Hi, busy atm” each time. Second, it's not true, I simply prefer asynchronous communication whether I have time or not.

If I felt that talking to a person for a half hour amounted to "losing" that time, I would not use the word "friend" to describe our relationship.

> I consider it rude to demand someone's attention for an extended period of time without asking for it first.

You know that that's why he's saying 'hi' right? It's his way of asking before taking your attention. And if you don't want to, you can just wait until you do, or say 'sorry, busy'.

From what you say, it sounds like you both think that the other person is rude, but that you are doing it on purpose.

When I used to work at Intel, the whole company AFAIK had a standardized way to check if someone is available for a synchronous chat: "IM?" or "May I IM?"

Everybody used it when synchronous chat was necessary. I thought it was great standardization over just simply "Hi".

Funnily enough, at my last company they actively promoted/encouraged these "polite" openers as part of IM etiquette. The most popular was simply "IM?" i.e. are you ready/available/etc. to engage in "instant"[0] messaging with me? I felt like just saying "no" plenty of times, but that seems too rude, so the most I would ever say besides "yes" was something like "give me 60 sec" or "give me 5 min." Sometimes you gotta finish shit and get to a stopping point or it's just an infinitely recursive interruption stack.

[0] Not really instant, because "So-and-so is typing," and your productivity is hostage to their typing skills.

Well there is bunch of situations where:

I can ask something and if someone can answer immediately I am done.

If I send the question and wait for response I waste time.

If I send the question and work on it, I will be halfway done or in some other state then I got stuck so when person answers my request, it might not be a valid question anymore.

If I start working on something else I break my context and sharing screen what else gets harder.

When I ask "Hi are you there.", keep working on thing I am stuck I can ask more specific question when person replies, because then I might have checked two or more things.

Most important thing is, if person does not reply, I am not getting mad or annoyed, she has more important things to do so OK.

There are plenty of times when a synchronous or time sensitive communication is needed and in those cases a proper first message in slack is something like "production is down" or "we have a customer call in an hour and I need an update on issue X" as those types of messages communicate clearly that I need to drop (or wrap up) what I'm doing an attend to your needs.

If you say "hello" instead you are immediately telling me that your issue isn't an emergency, but that you want me to treat it like one. I just ignore these and if the person goes on to ask their question I'll deal with it when I have time.

"Hey are you around? I have a quick question that I need an answer for right away. If you don't reply in the next 5 minutes then no worries, I'll ask Jim next. Anyway here's the question: {...}"

I find email far superior to messages for general communication, and think it should be the default. People tend to abuse things like slack. Sure YOU want your issue/idea addressed immediately, generally I don't have the bandwidth to handle issues immediately and tend to queue them up and I'll get back with the person. I am a very focused person and constant interruptions turn me off, so I turn slack notifications off and kind of treat it like email as well and check every few hours unless I'm working with someone on something in the NOW.

Where that breaks down is that I literally never reply to “hey”. It just sits out there, unread, until the sender follows up or we start another conversation.

My workplace has developed the "nohello" culture to the point where I've noticed a new evolution of "Hi," which is "Hi. Do you know <some question that they know I can answer immediately>?" Then they jump into a much more time-consuming question/argument/issue when they know they've got you in a sync conversation. Boom, you've been StealthHello'd. :D

Yes, I think a better way would be to say “hello, I’d like to have a quick chat with you about XXX. When are you available?”

Just “hello” seems to be rather curt.

The trick is to not respond until they say what they want. If they later complain, say you didn't have time for a friendly conversation.

Alternatively, if you're not busy, respond but steer the conversation to topics like the weather.

This is something I have not considered before. I've always thought chat was a medium where you can go asynchronous at any time.

This indicates a failure in design. If they want a sync chat, then there should be an easy UI element for it.

I'm pretty sure "... is typing right now" messages are meant to aid that synchronous style. Though, I have a habit of leaving half-typed messages in the buffer which drives my friends and colleagues nuts.

This is why I answer Teams chats on my own accord, notifications are disabled. I'm not paid to sit in chat rooms and answer questions. Submit a ticket or send an email. I determine what is a priority

Thank you. I never thought of it that way before. Much appreciated.

> many people that do a naked "hi" / "hey" are trying to see if the receiver is present

The metaphorical "You up?"

I do that. And my main reason is not to have a synched conversation, but first to see it the recipient is responsive before I ask the question, usually, a tough question that the recipient might want to dodge or procrastinate. So if I ask everything at the same time, he might never answer, dodge it and say "sorry I didn't see your message". Basically, I use hello as a trap.

This kind of behavior is usually a result of some other, more fundamental problem within your team. You would probably benefit from some kind of team building activity that would repair trust among your team members. Using hello as a trap will only make things worse over time and people will dislike working with you.

Sounds like you're actively trying to annoy your coworkers, you probably shouldn't do that.

Don't be surprised if your colleagues start to very frequently say "sorry I didn't see your hello", six or seven hours or even multiple days late.

I am the original author of the document this document was based on. It was an internal Wiki page at Google written when I was an SRE. After I wrote the original page, someone put up an internal shortlink at "go/nohello". After I left Google, someone took the Wiki page content and [illegally, since it was Google confidential, simply from being on the internal Wiki], and put it up on the net at "nohello.com". The linked article at nohello.net is a paraphrase of the nohello.com content; compare the list of salutations (especially "yt?) and the paragraphs at the end mentioning "asynchronous communication". ("yt?" was a favorite of Raymond B---., who was in many ways my mentor at Google and who I'm forever grateful to.)

I mean it's not an original idea and trying to keep it locked up in Google's internal wiki system isn't doing anyone any favors. Go look at all the posts on /r/sysadmin where everyone says to just ignore the "hello" slack/teams messages.

I wish you could just configure the app to not notify you for a first "hello" message, unless it's been 5 minutes or something.

While I'm at it, it shouldn't send you multiple notifications for messages arriving in short sequence.

> multiple notifications for messages arriving in short sequence

Oh god, I know people who average three words per line, and I just have them permanently muted so my screen doesn't fill up with a giant stack of shit. But then I never hear when they message me, which isn't ideal either, because sometimes it's important.

This is a common issue, but should be solved by software. The app just shouldn't notify you several times in less than X seconds. Then it wouldn't be a problem at all.

This was a thing in IRC long before Google existed.

My impression is that the hello messages developed into an unfortunate part of Google’s culture. I entered the industry in 2010 and didn’t run into this practice until 2015, when I began working closely with someone who was recently ex-Google (specifically, “you there?”/“yt?”). She was a super smart and kind person, and it was easy for me to coach her out of it, hence my thinking that she learned the bad habit at Google, and that it was in no way a manifestation of her personality (contrary to the suggestion of some comments in this thread that read more deeply into the behavior).

There was a "go/yeshello" to provide the opposing argument, and later a "go/onlyhello" which is obviously the correct answer

Is there also an "Only Zuul" response, or is that not the Google way?

( https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/there-is-no-dana-only-zuul )

I doubt any judge would consider this confidential information. If you copied the sentence "Apples are red." from an internal wiki, would that be confidential?

How do you know it was unauthorized if they copied it from the internal wiki after you left Google?

If it had been authorized, presumably they'd have kept my name on it, no?

I'd probably not include the name without the person's permission.

This (highly annoying) practice was pervasive at Qualcomm as well, and we had a go/hi with essentially the same content.

Gods, but this drives me absolutely nuts at work. Like OK, what?!

It tells me nothing about the urgency of the matter, let alone what it relates to. So I can put it to the side and keep working - but it's going to be nagging at me "hmm, what if it's about x?".

So now I've got to break focus and waste time just to find out how important it is, and what it even relates to.

I much prefer "Hi, I have a question regarding how to x, could you ping me when you get a chance pls?", or "Hi, we've got an urgent problem with x, the customer is losing their shit, pls help ASAP!"

The absolute worst is when the person giving you "hello" is someone you don't know (I work at a megacorp). From "hello" I will plainly have no clue what you want, so wtf?!

I wonder if it's a cultural thing. I don't think my colleague in the UK, Norway or Europe have ever done this, but it seems to be just about the only way my colleagues in India start a chat?

If it's someone I don't know (megacorp here too!) I just ignore it altogether... They'll eventually give up and ask the actual question.

It's harder if it's something I can't ethically ignore like my boss or a coworker.

PS: One thing that really helps to get my attention is being someone that's actually nice to talk to. I have a LOT of time for people who are not all business and actually care about people.

And the best way to get on my shitlist is asking the same question 3 times in a matter of weeks.

Once is totally fine. Great when people want to learn. Two is OK. I get it, you didn't have time to make a note. Three is Shitlist. I'm not your database. Use OneNote.

In the same manner: I notice when people ask me a lot of questions but never the same one twice. I really respect that and I have a lot of time for those people. It shows initiative and a capability/interest to learn. Good for a major plus on performance review feedback too :)

I hate it too! For someone I don’t know I want to say “how can I help you” but even then that is presumptuous!

Sometimes they reply with “how are you”!


On Telegram I archive them immediately. And I check the archives once a month, maybe.

> If it's someone I don't know (megacorp here too!) I just ignore it altogether... They'll eventually give up and ask the actual question.

This is my tactic too. About 50% of the time, they finally cave and just ask the question within a couple of days, and the other 50% of the time I never hear from them again!

Still annoys me though, as it's just one more thing in the back of my mind when I'm trying to focus on something.

Yeah I know right!! Just wondering if some big issue is going to fall on me by the end of the day when I want to sign off.

But usually it's like what you say.. Often I don't hear back at all :D

Seems like a great use case for a slack bot. Monitor for naked hellos and show a link to this page. That way it’s not personal.

I think you are legitimately on to something. I may actually build that this week if I get some downtime.

It would need to be _polite_ though since most people who do this do seem to be generally well-meaning, if unwittingly annoying.

Slackbot has an autoresponder / custom response feature built in. Sadly you can’t gate it to PMs.

Please share if you do build it, I’ve been looking for a PM auto responder for vacations. They exist but many of them are bundled to other services with features I don’t care about and come at a cost that’s more than I want to pay for just the one feature of actual interest.

I also noticed it being more common with offshore (ESL) coworkers.

Drives me nuts too.

When someone does that to me, I ignore them.

A problem with saying "hi" and then waiting is it turns an asynchronous communication medium into a synchronous one.

Say you have a question for me, but I'm in a meeting (or it's past working hours in my timezone). By the time I respond to your "hi", you might now be in a meeting (or it might be before your working hours, the next day). Finally you ask the question, and I respond the next time I'm available. This could easily cause a question that takes 30 seconds to answer to have 24 hours of latency.

Or I might be busy doing something else or talking to someone else. Waiting for me to respond to "hi" is basically demanding real-time access to my focus. I don't have the capacity to always have live conversations with everyone who wants one. Just posting a (complete, thought-out) question allows me to devote just a short window of focus, and do so only when I have that focus to spare.

I don't think this advice is useful because a lot of the time the reason people are doing this is the reason people don't like it.

When someone states their request outright the recipient may be "conditionally there" based on the content of the request: They'll reply if they find the question interesting/relevant and worth interrupting what they're doing and put it off otherwise.

The asker, however, would prefer their question get answered. If they first determine if the recipient is present there will be social pressure to answer the following question, even if its a waste of the recipient's time at the moment.

The recipient may find it aggravating to have people soft-force them to pre-commit to responding when they don't even know what will be asked.

Just because I respond with "what's up?" Or "hey" does not mean I will immediately respond to the request. In fact I usually come back to these types of chats an hour or so later kind of as a punishment. You have to train-UP your peers and customers to set expectations. It may sound brash but we're not here to make friends and constantly being interrupted while in deep thought is not healthy.

Aside, the best work around I've found is replying to prompts is with something like "I'm kinda here, in and out-- just leave a message and I'll get to it when I make my way back around to the chat window." You're around, but you're not committing to reply on any particular time-frame.

They'll often keep doing it, but at least you don't have to feel pressured to accept a synchronous conversation sight-unseen.

I'm aware of this motivation, and it's the reason that I deliberately delay responding to "hey" messages. If I don't know what you want, then I also don't know whether I have time to think about it right now. It's a bit of an arms race.

There may be some who are doing this deliberately based on the reasons you mentioned; but for me personally, and my guess is for others, I did it out of ignorance of the frustration it gave the other person. Once I had awareness, I could change my behavior. So the article is useful.

I tend to ignore messages that convey no useful information. I also push back and ask them to please do not just say hello, I'm busy, I cannot triage if don't tell me what you mean.

social pressure lol

I’ll write back I’m busy or that I’m not going to do that

and accept the consequences

more people should accept the consequences

Same idea back in 2009 for IRC


  From: Adam Jackson
  To: memo-list
  Subject: On “ping” etiquitte
  Date: Tue, 17 Nov 2009 12:21:30 -0500

  IRC has developed a “ping” convention for getting someone’s attention. It works because most clients will highlight channels in which your name has been mentioned, so something like

  ajax: ping

  will make that channel show up pink instead of white for me [1].

  I wish to correct, or at least amend, this behaviour. The naked ping should be Considered Harmful, for at least two reasons. The first is that it conveys no information. The recipient of your ping, like you, is a Busy Person. They may be in the middle of something requiring intricate thought, and should not be interrupted for anything less than fire, flood, or six figures of revenue. Worse, _you_ may forget why you pinged someone; when, four hours later, your victim gets back to IRC and responds to you, _you_ will be disrupted in turn trying to remember what was on your mind in the first place.

  The second, more subtle reason proceeds from the first. A ping with no data is essentially a command. It’s passive-aggressive; it implies that the recipient’s time is less valuable than yours. [2] The pingee will respond in one (or both) of two ways. Either they will experience increased stress due to increased unpredictable demands on their time, or they will simply ignore naked pings.

  The fundamental issue here is a misunderstanding of the medium. IRC is not a telephone. It’s volatile storage. The whole reason the ping works is because the client remembers seeing the ping, and can save it in your history buffer so you can see who was talking to you and why.

  The naked ping removes this context.

  Please. Save your time. Save my time. Make all of our lives more efficient and less stressful. Ping with data. At a minimum:

  ajax: ping re bz 534027

  See the difference? Now you’ve turned slow, lockstep, PIO-like interaction into smooth pipelineable DMA. It’s good for your hardware, and it’s good for you.

  [1] – irssi 4 life.

  [2] – Their time may well be less valuable than yours. That’s not the point.

  – ajax

> People who do this are generally trying to be polite by not jumping right into the request

Sometimes it's the opposite and used as a trap to force you into answering something awkward on the spot - when you reply "yes?" in chat, they know if they ask something quickly after you'll feel obligated into replying immediately. Obviously I hate games like this but I've worked with others that complain about e.g. managers doing this often so they learn to absolutely dread "hello?" messages even when it turns out to be nothing.

I generally don't reply to hello messages unless it's from my parents / brother. Whoever tries to message me will just have to go ahead with the actual content or leave it be.

I don't mind that 'hello' or 'hi mackatsol' .. as I know more is coming. What drives me crazy is people who say "can I ask you a question?" I really try hard not to say "you just did".

None of those compare to those folks who do not understand that to help them we need details. How do I infer what a problem is without any details? I used to ask all sorts of questions so as to be able to help them. Now I tend to post a 'More details please! Once I have those I can help you.' What amazes me is that sometimes we get no response at all! (By we I mean those of us in the channel/group).

Note that these are co-workers who have been told many many times that we need some basic details to be able to do anything at all, like a client's domain name, or a client id in our CMS.

I feel this in my bones, and have been trying to get engineering managers to work with their teams on creating better tickets because in a company of nearly a two hundred developers including a massive overseas contingent, but a painfully understaffed ops and infrastructure team of 3:

“My build doesn’t work, please prioritize”

Does not help me help you. I wish I were making it up that this is the level of detail with which people ask my team to stop what they are doing and render aid (we don’t, when it’s that bare). These are developers who you’d think would know how to flesh out an error ticket and at least be somewhat specific in what they’re asking for.

What build? What repo is the build pipeline attached to? What’s the error message (many of the times these were errors that could have been self-solved if the developer bothered read the error message to notice they forgot to close a bracket. I’ve pointed to this to their leads. It doesn’t change) Do you know how many developers are using the pipelines we’ve build for them? Do you realize how many development initiatives are going on? I’d hope so, we Go over then as a tech division with a regular cadence. What product are you working on? Which feature branch? How about so much as a screenshot or a link to the repo where the build is failing?

So. What I’ve done is gone to all of their engineering leads, showed them examples of the ticket. Explained my problem. And told them “if your people can’t help us enough by being descriptive and at least putting a link to the build with the error they’re seeing, it’s not getting prioritized it won’t even be triaged”

We had this problem of poorly phrased tickets, and we added a rule to our ticketing software to immediately respond with a list of questions they need to answer to prove they did due diligence before we would start answering. It worked, we got less tickets, and the ones that answered the questions we could resolve faster.

I proposed something similar to our Jira Admin, since I lack the privileges to just do it and ask permission later: we need certain form fields to be "required" to cut down on that back and forth. Even put together a bit of a workflow in a project that I have "Project Lead" status on to show him how it could be done, if Issue Type is this, change the view and make these fields required.

That was...9 months ago.

I'm still waiting for it. Side effect of everyone being too busy I guess, which is a chronic problem at org.

”Can I ask you a question?” obviously isn’t that literal, but more of a shorthand for ”do you have the time, energy and inclination to have a discussion with me right now to figure out the answer to a question I have?”.

I personally try to ask the question straight away, with some caveats and pleasantries added if needed to avoid friction and stressing people out, but I do think it’s fair enough to do it like above as well. You show that you’re respecting the other person’s time by not dragging them too far into a conversation before they’ve agreed to have it, and you don’t have to write out the full question right then and there if it turns out the person is not available for it at the moment.

> What drives me crazy is people who say "can I ask you a question?" I really try hard not to say "you just did".

Yes! And the same things happens in real life as well. As a teacher, I get quite often this same question: "Can I ask something?" To which I always reply: "Apparently!"

In the classroom I am trying to establish a local "classroom culture" wherein students feel safe to ask anything. I suppose we should also try to establish a local "chatroom culture" with norms, expectations, responsibilities, and so on.

That drives me bananas too. I had some minor luck by positively calling out people who did provide great details. I’d send a message out to a wider group copying the original request, pointing out what was so good and saying how much time they’d saved us. Also how much effective cost was saved. I’d include a supervisor if possible.

I tried to be really nice about it and was floored by how surprised some people were that those base level details made any difference at all.

I generally don't like the "steve is typing" notifications that all modern communication apps ahve (it's the weirdest feeling is seeing one of those and then see it disappear without the person sending a message), but for THIS PARTICULAR PURPOSE they work really well. If someone says "hi!" as their first message, you can see that they're typing their follow-up you can just wait for them to finish. Yes, it would be better if they just came out and said what they needed to say, but the typing notification does remove some of the awkwardness.

I get a lot of these and try to assume that it's the person wanting to be polite. Starting a conversation without a greeting is very rude in a lot of cultures. But yes, it's annoying in chat form, and especially when the conversation is left dangling. Depending on the situation, I'll write out what I'd like to say, then copy it before starting off with a "hello". If the person starts typing, I'm ready to follow up with the request. If not, I'll prepend it with: "when you have a minute", or whatever makes sense given the urgency of the request. And I'll generally only start with the "hello" if it's the first time we've interacted that day.

We've also experimented a little bit on my team with prepending asynchronous messages with emojis: a turtle means you can take your time, an alarm means it's urgent, a custom thumbs up/thumbs down emoji means you just need a yes or no answer.

The emoji symbols seem like a good idea, but unfortunately just because its the first time you've communicated with a person for the day, doesn't mean that they _aren't_ incredibly busy.

We may have different work cultures, but I used to report to someone who would lead with a bare "Hey!" and I eventually found that if I waited long enough she would either elaborate or the issue would go away. Somehow I don't think that was her actual plan.

Different people have different communication styles. I have some co-workers who hate it when people do not say hello the first time I talk to them in a day. There are other who I can jump straight to the question even having not talked for months. And I have one coworker who will ignore your questions until you stop, say hello, and talk to them a bit about how things are going.

Anyone who gets to know their coworkers and change their own communication style to match their desires ends up having effective communications with them all.

On the other hand, dictating that everyone must cater to your own style can give you a reputation of being difficult to work with.

Just say "Hello, how do I do X?" and you are nice to both crowds.

My strategy is to just wait a bit and not respond immediately, to see if they get the message that their initial greeting was useless, and then post what they actually have to say.

I have attempted this several times with varying degrees of failure.

In some cases, the sender deleted the hello, and then attempted another hello later.

In some cases, the sender would wait a few hours and say hello again, or some just email me instead (they must have assumed I am not available).

In one exceptional case, I waited 2 days before saying "hello" back, and they then immediately continued the conversation as though no abnormal communication gap had occurred.

A lot of people at DayJob do the "Hi" thing, waiting for a response. Like you, I just don't respond.

That must work great with your bosses.

I do not have bosses per se. The top of the company does not need to address anything to me because the power is very well decentralized. And even if my PO or PM talks directly to me, they just request it in the same message as they greet.

This problem was driving me insane in the early days of WFH last year. I'm the most senior engineer on the team, so am often reached out to for information, and I had to start enforcing some protocols for getting my attention. I've sent this exact link to multiple members of my team in response to a "Hi", because getting distracted by the message and then having to wait for the actual question was causing me significant stress. It's worked, and I strongly recommend it. It was probably a bit impolite to do, but I had to enforce boundaries for my own sake.

Incidentally, I think doing so has also helped a ton with people asking if they could call me. If they first have to state their question via text, it lets me triage whether this is an issue that needs a call or not. That was a much more significant benefit, because a voice chat is an even bigger breaker of flow than waiting for the question after a "hi".

Also, please send messages once you're done thinking and writing. When someone is so inconsiderate and just does a real-time braindump in the messenger, hitting return every half sentence, I'll mute them.

I find this style much better for casual conversations given that it mimics real talk better and I can start thinking/responding from earlier.

It doesn't mimic real talk, it's 10x too slow for that. To me being on the receiving end of this is like watching a YouTube video that switches between playback and buffering every few seconds.

I can live with that in chat. It's not an email and I can switch the window and later read it all at once. But please please don't send me voice messages like this!

I prefer to receive multiple messages instead of one long and hard to read wall of text.

Why does this bother you?

because every time someone hits return, the messenger goes bling. Then I'll read what was sent because I was interrupted anyways. Then I'll discover it was incomplete and I can't make sense of it. I'll go back to productive work until the next snippet of this flow of consciousness madness interrupts me. Then I'll read that message, plus the preceding ones for context. Now you interrupted me multiple times, forcing me to read partial stuff over and over again, just to have to wait for your next snippet for it all to maybe make sense.

People messaging like the above cause me to mute them and just look at their messages once in a blue moon.

>because every time someone hits return, the messenger goes bling.

I realize there are still distractions re: notifications, etc. but I recommend people turn off chat sound effects to make the notifications less distracting.

It bugs me when on a Zoom call, I slack something, and I hear the Slack notification sound.

Possibly because it triggers numerous notifications for a request or question thats not complete yet.

That can be quite distracting, especially if the conversation isn’t urgent.

Absolutely, people who do this instantly goes down on my priority

Prior to extended remote work, I used to feel this way when people just sent a single hello. But now I use it as an invitation to make small talk. So if someone just says hello, I start asking them questions: how's it going, how's is <whatever fact I remember about them>, etc. This makes some people go straight to their original question, but I think it also helps both of us feel a little more connected while everyone is remote.

Interesting! I and several on my team feel the opposite. This extended remote work has been a breathe of fresh air - no longer so burdened by unnecessary social conventions like small talk, except at predetermined times such as "virtual happy hour".

Hi, is it ok if I post a comment?

Yes, but only one, and that was it.



Everything I know about instant messaging, I learned from communicating via radio with ATC.

Pleasantries are not required, but brief (< 3 words) ones are appreciated.

Just saying “hi” wastes time and effort. Ask your question.

Put these two together and you get something like, “good morning! Do you know how many froops the borgle puts out?”

If a question you’ve asked is no longer relevant/you’ve found the answer elsewhere, a simple “disregard” closes the loop.

“Disregard - Jeff said it’s 12”

People won’t always reply. There are things going on behind the scenes that you don’t and can’t know about.

Keep it brief. Unless there’s an actual reason to write a paragraph, don’t.

If you’re given information without a question, a simple acknowledgment suffices. “Roger,” “copy,” or a thumbs up.

Chat is a walkie-talkie, not a coffee date!

I don't like people saying just hello and expecting me to answer before they get to the point. If I see the message and immediately respond hello back then I have to sit and wait and watch the 'person is writing' indication until I get the the real reason they contact me. This time is just active waiting and can't be used for anything. In the situation where I see the hello at some later time and reply back the other person might not even be there. Should I actively wait or start something else and keep an eye on the chat, prepared to be interrupted? A lose-lose situation for me..

On a similar note, please don't send a private message to someone asking a technical question more suitable for a channel. It puts unfair pressure on the receiver, denies others who could help the opportunity to do so, and doesn't help others who have the same question (including the answer not being archived in search).

At my BigCorp just finding the right channel can be very difficult and channels can be a lightly monitored dead end.

That being said I have no problem if someone says, “can you ask this on the Foobar channel?”

Yeah I get that. That was the case at my last job as well. But I also said "can you ask in foo channel?" several times a day, every day. It truly got old and was a pretty big distraction. That's why whenever nohello comes up, I make my original comment.

I dont agree with this. Its good to be polite. Also if you throw your question into the chat without first verifying that they are seeing it and responding then you can end up asking the question, then they dont see it, then it hangs around for ages, then they see it hours later when it might not be relevant anymore and it causes confusion.

Saying hello is fine, and polite, our social instincts are pretty good generally, dont worry about the 'lost productivity'. There are ephemeral benefits - the feeling of connection as you wait for them to type their question in real time.

If you believe the comments of people advocating nohello are about "lost productivity", I recommend you try re-reading this comment thread with a bit more empathy, looking for the emotions behind the comments.

You mention our social instincts. For a lot of people, nohello is exactly what our social instincts are pushing for. For us, a bare "hello" without any context or information is uncomfortable, and feels rather rude.

A big part of politeness, courtesy, and etiquette is helping people feel comfortable, meeting them where they are.

For me personally, and I think a lot of others who agree with nohello, a bare "Hello" with no content or context gives me nothing to work with, nothing to say, nothing to grab on to to understand what kind of conversation I'm having. You mention a "feeling of connection" while waiting for someone to type the rest of their question, but to me it only feels like disrespect.

When people talk about things you summarize as "lost productivity", it's not about a desire to advocate the interests of the company, but instead it's expressing that for people like us, these kinds of content-free social rituals feel disruptive to the flow of work, and that these disruptions feel irritating, uncomfortable, and disrespectful. It feels like a violation of our culture's etiquette.

Feel free to say hello, include as many social pleasantries as you like in your messages, but please also include at least some meaningful content about your goals or intentions.

The website itself mentions lost productivity, I was responding to that.

So despite best intentions, you're actually just making the other person wait for you to phrase your question, which is lost productivity

Ask the question and then follow up with a nvm if they take longer to answer than is useful. You can do it politely and explain you got the answer or whatever.


hi codeulike - you there? I'd like to reply to your post. Can you please confirm you are available?

You really need to stop doing this, it’s only making people hate you.

Stop doing what?

This is like every Slack conversation I have with non-technical people at work.



"You there"

-- "Yes"

"Do you have a sec?"

-- "Sure"

<long pause>

-- "What do you want???"

This is a practically a motto in my org at AWS.

During any point in the day, I'm usually:

1.) Doing my actual job 2.) Chatting with a work friend 3.) Helping 1-3 other engineers with their jobs

If you just say 'Hi [name]', you're going right to the bottom of the priority list. I got things to do right now. Just tell me what you need from me so we can get down to business.

When things are less busy we can chop it up and chat. But if I don't know you, I'm not going out of my way to see what you want from me. Especially since I got 3-4 other balls I'm juggling at the same time.

Them: Hi! Me: (thinks) Aww, how nice! I am thinking about you too, random coworker!

Later when I see the coworker in person...

Me: I got your "Hi!". So Hi! back! Them: I had a question. Why didn't you respond? Me: I wanted to say "Hi!" in person! I guess your question got lost, I never saw it.

In the old ICQ times, back in 1996, instant messaging was a bit different. At least to me. Back then, we always sent a single “Hi”. Just as an acknowledgment that we where both online at the same time. The chat was also a more central thing back then, it was a major part of even being online. Nowadays. Everyone is online , always. The chat is not as central anymore and it’s like the need to acknowledge each other like that, no longer is as relevant.

This. We are being too much overloaded by information and tasks nowadays. There was even a time we take our time just for chatting and it actually felt good.

I also like the notion of “if this will matter tomorrow, don’t use chat”. Especially when working async across time zones. Logging requests and responses in an issue tracker is far more organized and less distracting/stressful.

I used to have a big customer that started every text conversation this way and it drove me nuts.

Me: [question about requirement]

Him: Hey buddy, how are you doing?

Me: Oh, great man, you? (Thinking: less great now that you are turning this into a big thing)

Him: Great, [talks about non work-related shit]

(10 minutes and several texts later)

Him: [one sentence response to my original question]

I really liked this guy, but god damn he loved to chat. He spent about half of my onsite time talking on the phone with his mother or wife. I always wondered how he got anything done, since he clearly did this when I wasn't there as well according to his coworkers.

I’m annoyed by this but for direct messages at least it’s easily solved by simply not replying. If there’s no question or indication of criticality in a professional setting, that means it can wait. If they really need your help, they’ll send a second message. This also avoids the infuriating situation where a reply to “hey” is then replied to with something like “nvm fixed it”.

I apply the golden rule: while doing this I also don’t expect immediate responses from other people to my questions. If it’s critical, I will call them.

I have to say: I find this reasoning (which of course is not new - it's been a guideline on many IRC channels for over a decade, maybe longer) and also many of the responses here to be quite inhumane.

I provide plenty of support - internal and world-facing, and I have no problem with people starting with 'hello', and I often do so myself. And then I say, "hello, how are you?"

...because our first priority as humans is to care about each other. If you are having a mental health breakdown, living in fear or heartache, if your basic, fundamental human needs aren't met, then I want to know that first. It doesn't matter who you are or why I'm in a position to be a support channel for you, my first priority is to hear from you if you need help. Fuck man, that's what support is. If you are only willing to support a product and not a person, you aren't ready for a support role.

99.9% of the time, people get straight to the point. But in the 1/1000 time that somebody says, "actually, I'm struggling a bit; my Mom got detained by ICE this morning" it is everyone's job to support that need first. Merging the PR can wait a few minutes so that this person can be safely heard. And that's what 'hello' and 'hello, how are you?' establish.

The only good reasons I can think of are:

* To ensure the other person isn't in a meeting. The sender might not want the text to be broadcast unintentionally.

* To force a synchronous conversation. I think this is pretty rude though. What would be better would be some context and an aim to get a time that suits both people. Something like: "Hi Mark, do you have any time today to get together to discuss the ongoing database issues? I have two potential ideas for the cause."

Both are good reasons for "Hi, I need to discuss something confidential", "Hi, may I have your immediate undivided attention" or maybe a phone call.

Just "Hi" doesn't convey enough of the intent.

Crap, I'm not the only one. A "Hi" conveys no actionable information. It's impossible to triage.

It's disrespectful of people's time, even though the sender thinks it's being polite.

The further I get in my career, the busier I get, and the more painful this becomes. Relentless prioritization is the only way to get the right shit done.

I need to choose and pick where my attention goes to, so please, just ask!

Relentless prioritization. I like that.

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