No-hello Policy: How not be annoying

Imagine a situation when you have a task and you’re focusing on it for a while. Then you receive a message “Hi John”.

What is it about? All puzzles broke down.

Okay. “Hi Bob!” you say and wait for the response from Bob. But Bob doesn’t answer you immediately. You decide to continue working on the task. You are starting to fold the puzzle again.

Bob meanwile: “Do you have a minute?”. And he waits for your answer.
You say “I do, go ahead”.
And after that you are just watching the pencil with a few dots down while Bob writes his question for a few minutes. You can’t continue your work, you see he writes something. Annoying, isn’t it? Bob hasn’t heard about the No-hello Policy. And of course he doesn’t use it.

Would you prefer working or wathcing typing bubble?

Why lots of people do not use the policy? Perhaps majority of them have never heard of it. However, I say with gumption, people should know about it and learn how not be annoying.

Simple rule. Simple policy.

It has a simple rule to be followed. Don’t start a conversation from “Hello” or from other introductory constructions. Describe your question and send it in one message along with “hello, how are you?” cliché if needed.

People aren’t thrilled to wait for you typing. Especially if it takes a long time. One should respect others time and schedule. Instead of throwing away people’s time, just use the pattern hello-question/problem – write all the stuff you are worried about in one message. For example:

12:30 pm Martin says:
Hello John,
I hope you are well.
I wanted to ask you if you could describe me how this flow works after the migration to a new database. I faced an issue with the persistence and have hoped you might be the one who would be able to help me.
12:40 pm John says:
Hello Martin,
Thanks for your message, we surely can discuss that, let’s schedule a quick call and settle all the things down. My availability is from now till 2pm. So, you can fit a meeting into my schedule easily.

Above there you have all necessary information in one place. You don’t need to drag your attention to multiple messages and meanwhile ask for clarifications etc. Compare the above thread to the thread like this:

12:30 pm Martin says: “Hello John”
12:31 pm John says: “Hello…”
12:31 pm Martin says: “How are you? Have a minute?”
12:31 pm John says: “All right, go ahead…”
12:31 – 12:35 pm Martin writes a message. John is wathcing a typing bubble (maybe Martin just is about to send it)
12:35 pm Martin says: I wanted to ask you if you could describe me how this flow works after the migration to a new database. I faced an issue with the persistence and have hoped you might be the one who would be able to help me.

Probably, John isn’t hapy to be distracted like that. Again, just imagane you were John working on something important and you see someone is bombardiering you with messages without much of the sense.

When you get dozens of such messages a few times per day from people, who don’t respect your time, it becomes to be really annoying and makes you anxious. Moreover you spend a lot of time waiting for nothing.

How to deal with that.

You can ignore the messages in conversation unless the sender sent the final question. It’s still anoying, but at least you won’t react on such provacations to support this way of your time waisting.
You also could politely ask people you work with to read articles about this policy.

But the best way to fix it is up to a company you are working in. The company should introduce such a comlience and improve employees awareness of it. In fact this rule is a part of code of conduct in companies that care about their employees time and emotional health. This topic has been covered in a great book ([“It doesn’t have to crazy at work”] by Jason Fried and David Heinenmeir. They explain a lot of problems in modern IT companies and demonstarte a line between usual companies and Basecamp company, that shows tremendous efforts to respect employees and their time.
If you are working in the company where there is no such a rule introduced, you should raise it to your direct manager or another supervisor.

Stop tolerating your time wasting.


Often people don’t care about time of others they could probably be wasting. All of it because they are not aware of the no-hello-police. Following this policy you just need to become a little more direct and all your questions to a one message instead of bombardieng others with dozens of them. It won’t distract and annoy people that much compared to a few messages “Hi John”, “Do you have a minute?” etc.

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