We all have little things that don’t quite sit right with us, things that others do that irk, but not annoy. It’s a unique type of very minor annoyance that doesn’t derail you, but still catches in your brain, maybe with a mild shake of the head, before you progress with your day.
You have them too, don’t deny it.
Here’s one of mine: People (ok ok, work colleagues) who contact me using Teams (other messaging apps are available) and take this approach, it all starts with one message.
That’s it, that’s the first message. Just “Hi”.
Are they waiting to see if I’m online? Are they unsure as to why they care contacting me and are buying themselves sometime? Are they just being polite and don’t want to launch into what they really want so instead post this short introduction message?
I dunno. I’m not at my desk, my status is set to Away, I’m not seeing any of this exchange until an hour later.
After a few more seconds of typing a second message appears.
“Can I ask a question?”
‘You just did!’ I would’ve snappily replied had I been at my desk. Or perhaps I’d veer left into sarcasm city and opt for ‘I dunno, can you?’, in fact even I was sitting at my desk I still think I’d be pondering whether to reply or just wait for the inevitable next message. Because I know it’s coming, there’s some weird unwritten etiquette rule that says you should ask permission for the thing you are about to do but then just batter on and do the thing and worry about those rules later.
Sometimes, though, that’s it. That’s all I get. No question, just a question mark and my cursor flashing in the box that says ‘Type a message’. Should I answer? Do I wait them out to build more suspense? Or do I strike whilst the iron is hot, smashing a forehand reply swiftly to their baseline, putting them on the defensive, ha, take that!!
Or, given I’m not at my desk and my status is set to Away and has a little red circle signifying my very Away-ness, I’ll continue not to read, nor respond, to their messages.
However more typically I can expect a third, entirely separate message, to start being typed mere seconds after the second one was sent which was, in and of itself, sent mere seconds after the first message! You remember, that short one that now seems, I dunno is it just me, a little flirty? Inappropriate even?
“Hi” it said.
“Well”, I say fanning myself and batting my eyelashes, “hi to you to, how you doin’?” But no, this is a work colleague, and such messages are the boring norm that barely raising an eyebrow hair, let alone the raising of an entire eyebrow.
I digress. Where was I?
Ohh yes, watching the ‘… is typing…‘ message and waiting, waiting, waiting on that third message…
To recap, so far, they’ve sent:
09:14 – Hi
09:14 – Can I ask a question?
09:14 – [… is typing]
Annnnnd finally a third message appears, the actual question that they wanted to ask me all along has finally been unveiled. I’ve still not seen it as I’m not at my desk, my status is set to Away with a little red circle helping (those who aren’t colour blind?) fully understand that I am not available to have questions asked of me now, forcing me to leave that message unread, unloved, floating in the ether until I deign to reply!
Three separate messages, less than 30 seconds apart.
Why?! Is there some setting I’m unaware of that automatically starts a new message based upon certain triggers? (they said “Hi”, quick start a new message… ohhh they ended a message with a question mark, start a new message…???)
Or as is increasingly the case as I
grow older mature, is it just me? Is my approach the wrong one here?
Here’s how I’d do it.
“Hi, was wondering if you can help, I need blah blah…”
One single message; polite (I said Hi!), consenting their time (vaguely), and including the actual request itself. All in one line in one message so that the person who, I am pretty sure, can read English to a competent level, can parse it all immediately before telling me to naff off, or leave the message ‘unread’, or maybe even respond to my request.
Like I say, this is not any real level of annoyance, in fact it’s barely a blip, a quick wondering that I toss aside with barely a second thought.
But it keeps happening, and it’s not just one person and it’s not just my current colleagues. It is, and has been, rife throughout my career.
Did I miss a class in school or something?
Or is the problem me? Hi.
[insert culturally prominent Taylor Swift reference here]
Answers on a postcard, or in the comments as who can afford to send postcards these days (have you seen the price of a stamp! Bloody Tories!).