Instant Messaging @ Work. Do / don’t

If you, like me, use instant messaging a lot to contact colleagues, you will probably recognize these kind of conversations. The great thing about using something text based is that you can still keep working on other stuff. I tend to have plenty terminals open and using a IM allows me to ‘not sit around waiting’ until the other party replies. You can argue that giving somebody a call is a lot faster, but I’ll be losing focus on the conversation anyhow as long as I have a screen in front of me. Thats bad for both of us.

This is a common conversation that sometimes annoys me. Especially if you are the third person or so who initiates it.

Somebody: Hi!
Me: Hi
Somebody: Good morning
Me: ‘Mornin
Somebody: How are you doing?
Me: Fine, you?
Somebody: Ok.
Somebody: Can I ask you something?
Somebody: Or is this a bad time?
Me: Shoot.
Somebody: …. <Question follows>

If you are like me, this is not the kind of conversation I want to have with everybody that needs something.
The following example is how most conversations go with the colleagues in the sysadmins team:

Somebody: ping
Me: pong
Somebody: …. <Question follows>

As you can see, the amount of interrupts is reduced dramatically. “But that’s not very friendly” you say? No need for, I know you are a nice dude and even if you are not, we are working together, right?

So, for all you “friendly” people out there on the work-floor: One rule to live by: Don’t ask to ask, just ask! Keep the friendly talk for the coffee machine which we will both be using frequently anyhow.