Which answer goes with which question?

Gripe. In real-time group discussions -- Skype, Slack, HipChat, etc -- the interleaving of messages from the multiple participants will cause confusion when many questions are open and answers are given without context. Which answer goes with which question? So, when the question is "do we need to do X with Y" then answer "Re X with Y, yes" and not "yes". It takes so little extra time and, really, if you are that short on time then find another job where clear communication is not important.

6 comments:

Matt Caron said...

I'd argue that this is changing your base case algorithm to account for an uncommon corner. I'd rather just have the confused individual ask for clarification on the rare occasion that it's a problem.

Andrew Gilmartin said...

The situation where this is most important is what the team is troubleshooting a real-time user problem. Our users perform about 6M requests per day and so when trouble strikes it does not take long for thousands of users to experience problems first hand. So, it is all hands on deck with each of us investigating multiple areas of possible cause. In this situation, if you are not habituated to providing context then communication slows down as we need to ask for context of many responses.

Andrew Gilmartin said...

I love the phrase "base case algorithm to account for an uncommon corner". I would just say, "that's an edge case; now go away."

Andrew Gilmartin said...

Subgripe: When asked a question and you aren't confident with your answer don't say "I think X" or "I believe X" because you can be sure I am going to ask you to find out. Just say, "Let me check." Either way I have to wait, which is fine, but the later makes with wait without consternation.

Andrew Gilmartin said...

Many of our staff are in the UK. The British tendency to be self-effacing accentuates this subgrip as it is exactly how they confirm information. I have asked what is the UK equivalent to "I think/guess/etc". I am hoping it does not require reading body language.

Matt Caron said...

That all makes some sense.

I don't have a problem with people theorizing about how something works as long as you say "I think" if you're in some meeting. If you're at your desk, you're right - the answer is "let me check".