Vastly improve chat responses with this one simple tip

Published inCategorised as Microsoft Teams, Personal Productivity Tagged , , ,

Please don’t type “Hi” or “Hello” in chat and press Enter

When we use modern chat tools, such as Microsoft Teams, we should do so in a way that saves us time and allows for an efficient, real-time exchange of information. Do not expect an answer if you type “Hi” or “Hello” and press Enter. Instead, write a message that lets your chat partners respond to your message as soon as they have time to read and respond.

🥴 Bad Example

2022-02-19 09:12 [you]: Hi
2022-02-19 09:13 [co-worker]: Hello

#NOW… WE WAIT. YOUR CO-WORKER IS STUCK IDLE WHILE YOU PHRASE YOUR QUESTION… AND A FEW MINUTES LATER…

2022-02-19 09:17 [you]: I’m working on [my task], and I’m trying to do [abc], but I got stuck at [and so on…]. Do you have any ideas?
2022-02-19 09:18 [co-worker]: Oh, that’s easy! The answer is [solution]!

This is like calling someone on the phone. You say “Hello” and then put them on hold!

And what if the other person is busy in a meeting, away or focusing? If you leave the chat, and the other person comes back, they can’t help you!

😀 Good Example

2022-02-19 09:12 [you]: Hi — I’m working on [my task], and I’m trying to do [abc] but I got stuck at [and so on…]. Do you have any ideas?
2022-02-19 09:14 [co-worker]: Oh, that’s easy! The answer is [solution]!

In addition, if your co-worker was busy in a meeting, away or focusing at the time, they can now still respond to you later with an answer to your question! Bonus!

Being Polite

OK, so this may seem a bit cold and impolite. But let’s explore. As you would do in person or on the phone, you’re not going to call somebody and start right away with your request. When we meet people in real life, we talk way faster than we write. The problem is that chat isn’t a phone call, and chat is not a face-to-face real-life person interaction. When we’re in a chat, instead of being polite, you make the other person wait for you before they can answer your question, which is a waste of time and energy.

The same goes for “Can you chat for a second”, “Are you there?”, “Hello James – quick question.”, “Do you have a sec?”, “yt?” and “ping”. Skip these, and ask the question!

If you don’t like the idea of asking your question outright and feel it’s too impersonal, then try this simple alternative:

2022-02-19 09:12 [you]: Hi — if you’re not busy, I’m wondering if I could ask a question. I’m working on [my task], and I’m trying to do [abc], but I got stuck at [and so on…]. Do you have any ideas?

Call Etiquette

Some people like to start by saying “hello” to see if the person’s presence status is correct, then call them right away to see if the person is near a phone. Neither should you. The fact that someone is willing to answer a chat message doesn’t mean that they are also ready to talk on the phone or video chat.

Instead of sending “can I call you quickly?”, you can try something like this:

2022-02-19 09:12 [you]: Hi – do you have [5 minutes] for a call to talk about [my task]? I’m trying to do [abc], but I get stuck on [xyz].

You can do three things with this:

  1. It makes the request time-bound
  2. It gives the recipient some background information, and
  3. It helps you remember what you wanted to talk about if your co-worker can’t or doesn’t respond right away.

In Summary

I hope this one simple trick will help you with your chats! Do not expect an answer if you type “Hi” or “Hello” and press Enter. Instead, immediately ask your question.

Credit: This concept was initially posted in 2010 on https://sbmueller.github.io/nohello/, but it’s still relevant today. I’ve adapted it in this article for 2022!

By Shaun Dicker

Agile Delivery Lead & IT Project Manager with 20+ years of expertise in software development & digital transformation projects, Shaun works alongside clients and agile practitioners to build & run modern software applications. He is a geeky husband 🤓 who enjoys 📈 project management, ✅ personal productivity, 📱 technology, the 🏞️ natural world, 🦸‍♂️ graphic novels & 🎮 video games.

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