DEV Community

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths

Posted on


Sending just 'hi' in Slack/Teams. OK, or really not OK?

We've probably all been there. A colleague/manager/rando sends you a Slack or Teams message that just says "Hi".

No context.

There are two schools of thought about this...

1. It's rude to send 'hi'

Yes? Hello? Should I be worried?

This is where I'm at. 'Hi' sends ice through my veins. Something is happening and it could range from the inconsequential to the very bad, and I'm at your mercy until you decide it's time to tell me more!

In fact, we are such a passionate slice of the population, there's even a domain for it...

Saying 'hi' and waiting for a response is like phoning someone up then putting them on hold.

2. It's polite to send 'hi'

Ah, I see you want my attention, thank you for the note; I'll let you know when I can attend to this conversation...

Others will say that the reason they send 'hi' (or they don't mind receiving it) is that it gives them a chance to acknowledge the conversation in their own time.

Now, I've found that this is rarely the case, because generally, 'hi' is followed by the actual message in a time ranging from 20 seconds to several minutes.

But nevertheless, I accept that some people might actually have this habit because they think it's more polite.

What's your view?

Are you for or against 'hi' messages? Do they scare you or chill you, or somewhere in between?

Lmk in the comments, dear devs...

Top comments (7)

ahferroin7 profile image
Austin S. Hemmelgarn

I’m in a kind of strange middle ground.

If you message me saying ‘hello’ or ‘hi’ or something similar, and then follow up with a message about what you want without waiting for me to acknowledge the first message, I actually prefer that to having it all as one message or just jumping straight to the request. The initial message lets me know something further is coming, which actually helps me a bit to refocus from what I’m working on so I can actually respond to the request.

On the other hand sending a greeting message and then treating the chat like it should be synchronous ticks me off to no end, unless the intent is to initiate a general social conversation instead of something work related (but if that’s you’re intent, don’t just randomly say ‘hi’, say something like ‘Hey, could we chat a bit when you get a moment?’).

stegriff profile image
Stephen Griffiths

Thanks for the nuanced thoughts! I understand where you're coming from. I think I'd personally prefer to receive (and would always send) the first scenario as a single message though. Good to get another point of view :)

ahferroin7 profile image
Austin S. Hemmelgarn

Agreed, and I can understand most people preferring it as a single message. In my case though, it takes me a nontrivial amount of time to switch focus from what I’m working on to respond to questions and requests from colleagues, so I much prefer that heads up so I can hopefully respond more quickly when they send the actual question or request.

inactive profile image

I'm pro context. Saying just "Hi" and remaining on standby is a waste of time for both people. What I typically do is: "Hey X, how are you? Sorry to interrupt but I ran into Y problem while doing Z. Can you lend me a hand?" I try to give as much context as human possible while not bombarding the other person with messages.

Conversely, I also send shorter messages, like: "Hello X, are we still holding that meeting?" That stuff can usually do without all the context.

All in all, messages without context don't really drive me nuts, but they aren't my cup of tea either.

stegriff profile image
Stephen Griffiths

Just leaving this here for my future self:

dmahely profile image
Doaa Mahely

I don't like it, I prefer saying Hi and stating what I want all in the same message. This way, you can be polite and still maintain respect for the other person's time.

Although sometimes people can be known to be pretty unresponsive, so in that case I might send a "Hi, how are you?" and wait for them to respond before asking for what I want.

takirami profile image
Jonas Engström

I have personally never received this kind of message but If I did I'd be in your court.

👋 Every week new members join DEV and share a bit about them in our Welcome Thread

Welcome them to DEV and share a bit about yourself