I have quite a few co-workers who when they send a message, will send a greeting and literally will not say anything else until you greet them back. Some even repeat their greeting multiple times, and one even complained that I had seen their message but had not replied. Sometimes when doing multiple things at a time, I don't see the messages or respond back right away. For one co-worker who was really bad about this, I had explained I may not see their message right away and asked them to let me know how I can help them and I'd respond when I could but they are still doing the exact same thing.

I don't want to make a huge deal out of it, but we're wasting time not just communicating and I think it's because they're treating it like a face to face conversation where if you don't greet them back, they can't say anything else. Is there something more to this behavior that I'm not understanding? We have asynchronous chat for this reason, I don't want to have to open the chat to say hello to my coworkers any time they need something.

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    Does this help answer your question? workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/119137/…
    – B. Ithica
    Jan 6, 2021 at 14:24
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    @NuclearHoagie - The message is transmitted instantly, and not queued such as an email. That does NOT mean that responses are expected instantly. The coworkers are being VERY rude, and the reference from B. Ithica about "NoHello" is spot-on. Jan 6, 2021 at 19:45
  • Which chat client do you use? Some clients allow you to mark you as busy or unavailable. Jan 7, 2021 at 1:23
  • @StephanBranczyk: I don't think that is what the OP wants to express. Jan 8, 2021 at 2:05

2 Answers 2


The issue is that you don't know what their reason for contacting you is - they might need something from you that allows them to carry on with their tasks.

I get pings like this from time to time in Teams. Someone will raise a "Hi there" just to see if I'm around. I assume that if they're pinging me, then they feel its important enough to get my attention in order to discuss a request rather than then just email me.

Instead of trying to ignore these messages (in the hope they'd say something worthwhile right off the bat), it's probably more tactful to say

"Hi, how can I help?"

in response and let them put the work into describing what they need from you without having to go through the rigmarole of how their cat is feeling today.

When you get a response, you then have the information needed to evaluate whether they're worth breaking off your current task or tell them

"Sorry, I'm busy right now, can I get back to you in 5mins/an hour/tomorrow/whenever?"

Getting into the habit of responding in this way shows that you're there and listening, otherwise you're just feeding them the idea that you're just sitting there ignoring them. Trying to convince them to lead with their request may turn out as making you look stand-offish and demanding.

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    I like your use of "Hi, how can I help" to steer the conversation to business in a friendly way.
    – ObscureOwl
    Jan 6, 2021 at 15:58
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    @ObscureOwl I hate it when people don't get to the point and waste my time with unnecessary distractions. You can still be polite while writing your request into one message, instead of distributing it over 10 minutes.
    – Chris
    Jan 6, 2021 at 17:55

What is a polite way to ask coworkers not to use instant messaging like a face to face conversation?

The polite thing to do would be to respond to your coworkers when they reach out to you.

Obviously, they need your help for something which is why they are reaching out to you. The fact that on occasions you see their messages yet choose to not reply doesn't help matters. Everyone is busy, there is no excuse to blatantly ignore their messages. You can finish up what you are working on and then take a few seconds to reply to their chat.

I don't want to have to open the chat to say hello to my coworkers any time they need something.

Why not? That is what the chat is for. They send you a message, you open the chat and respond to their message. If all they say is "Hello", then reply with something like "Hello X, how can I help you?" If they need something you help them if you can or direct them to the correct resource to assist with their issue. You don't have to respond the exact instance that they send the message but at the same time don't blatantly ignore their messages.

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    I hate to downvote, but to demand synchronous attention on an asynchronous platform is VERY rude. The coworkers have not yet understood proper etiquette on messaging, and are expecting "phone call" etiquette. Jan 6, 2021 at 14:57
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    @WesleyLong The only thing that the coworkers have "demanded" is common courtesy, i.e. not having their messages willfully ignored by OP. The OP doesn't have to instantly respond anymore than they have to instantly reply to an email or answer a phone call. All they have to do is at some point respond instead of ignoring the communication.
    – sf02
    Jan 6, 2021 at 15:08
  • @sf02 Yes, this is how I read it. I get pings on Teams like this all of the time. I mainly respond with "Hi, how can I help?" and then act based on the response (or lack of) as appropriate. I think we're both on the same wavelength with our answers.
    – user124851
    Jan 6, 2021 at 15:32
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    @sf02 - Sorry, that's not courtesy. Coworkers are demanding to interrupt on an async platform. The lack of courtesy is not on the poster's side. Jan 6, 2021 at 19:43
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    If someone wants full, synchronous attention, the usual thing to do is to schedule an appointment. Requesting it immediately and on-demand is going to make quality-of-work suffer -- context switches are expensive and pull people out of flow -- so I would never want to be (or invest in) somewhere with a corporate culture that had the etiquette expectations described in this answer, all other things being equal. Jan 6, 2021 at 22:48

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