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Effective Communication: How to get more out of ‘Hey’

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You’re hard at work. You’re in the flow state, tackling the tough problems.

A Slack alert appears.


You stop what you’re doing and go to reply.

“Hey, what’s up?”.

User is typing

Now, you’ve been pulled out of your flow state, unable to dive back into your task without further distraction. Instead, you sit idle, waiting.

The extra time out of the flow state means it’ll take longer to get back into it. Had your colleague presented their query straight away, you could have responded in a snap and returned to your work without breaking your flow.

Never send a greeting without a clear purpose or request.

In person it’s polite to wait for a response before asking your question. But in written communication you should be direct.

When you send a lone “Hey,” you waste time waiting for the other person to respond. It could take a while to get a reply, and your query may take much longer to resolve if it involves multiple messages.

“Hey Sarah, where can I find the documentation for the new feature?”

“Hey Mark, hope you’re well. What was the outcome of the client call?”

“Hi Alex, how’s the family? I’m visiting the London office soon and I could use some help with…”

All of these are perfectly acceptable.

Why does this matter?

Over half of employees find it unfair that instant messaging can interrupt their work and break their concentration.1 To reduce this friction as much as possible, always include your request with your greeting.

Including your request with your greeting demonstrates respect for your colleague’s time and prioritizes efficiency. It shows that you value their workflow and are mindful of minimizing interruptions.

Over time, colleagues will appreciate your direct approach and perceive you as someone who respects their productivity, fostering better communication habits within your team.

How should we respond to a single “Hey”?

Don’t. Immediately switch back to your task and maintain your flow.

If it’s moderately important, they’ll eventually send their request anyway, bumping the message to get your attention again.

If their request was truly urgent, they would include it in their first message or even call you directly.

If they persist, politely ask them to include their request with their greeting during a natural pause in your own work.

If they really don’t get it, perhaps send them a link to NoHello.

  1. Optimizing Costs In Workplace Instant Messaging Use ↩︎

Featured Image: Alesia Kazantceva on Unsplash


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