If my manager texts me “hello,” “hello,” or “hey,” without any other context, I’ll assume I’m fired. That is the only logical conclusion. Same goes for “are you here?”, “Let me know when you come in” and “can we talk?”
I wouldn’t know how to reply to these messages. I know this because I ran an advanced computer simulation of this exact scenario, using a copy of my consciousness (basically the Black Mirror Slackbot).
You may think I’m paranoid, and you’re not wrong. But this is more than just my personal hangups: I know people in many industries who have received messages like this and assumed the worst.
Regulators, think of this as a PSA. Don’t text your report “hey” and then wait for them to respond. To the point, otherwise we would assume this point is very bad.
Let’s talk more about why.
History of hello
What do you say after picking up the phone? Most people say “hello,” and there’s a reason for it: the telephone companies taught people to say it in the 1800s.
When you call someone on the phone, it’s not clear when the other person will be there — unless they say something first. The English word “hello” was invented for this reason. The word gained attention in part because the phone book instructs people to start a conversation by saying “hello” as a way to confirm that both people are online. This habit, and from there, stuck. This medium created a new kind of ritual.
This pattern of technological etiquette happens frequently. Group chat tools are a different medium than telephones and require a different kind of etiquette. You don’t need to confirm the other person is there before you start talking because they’ll see a notification when they sign in. At Zapier, we’ve been a remote team for about a decade, and one of our rules of Slack etiquette is “Don’t wait for a response before getting to the point.”
To the problem
Because text-based messages are different from phone calls, saying “hello” before getting to the point actually makes communication take longer:
You say hello.
Finally, the other person greeted back.
Finally, you see this answer, then ask your question.
Finally, someone else sees your question and answers it.
This is less efficient than the alternative:
You greet and ask your question.
Finally, the other person answers the question.
This is normalized at our company and in text messages more broadly. Doing anything else feels odd, and the odd behavior makes people question it.
Alfred Hitchcock, film director and master of suspense, is said to have said, “There is no horror in the explosion, only its anticipation.” That’s what makes a simple “Hey” from a manager so terrifying. The default, on group chat apps, is to just explain what you want or need. Not doing so means you have something serious to say — something you don’t want to say before you know the other person is there. In my mind, that means I’m about to be fired.
Of course, mistakes will happen – that’s okay. My Zapier colleague Janine, who was also my manager, sometimes slips up. But, as she explains, she’s good at fixing herself:
I always forget that these types of messages cause anxiety until I send them right away, so I think everyone who has ever had me as a manager gets things like
Janine: nothing wrong, i promise just…
Continue read this article here