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I'm wondering if there is anything similar to the "no hello" rule, but regarding "you're welcome" messages in the end of a chat conversation. ("No hello" rule says that one shouldn't just send "hello" in the chat and wait for a reply, instead one should write their question in the same message. Check nohello.com for more info.)

Example:

colleague: Hi Alice! My X returns this error, how can I fix it?
me (1h later): Ah, that's simple, you just need to do Y and then Z.
colleague (1h later): Thanks a lot, it worked!
me (1h later): You're welcome!

I'm not sure if I should reply with "you're welcome" in situations like that, because it might just interrupt or distract the colleague. I mean, the colleague would notice a new chat notification, stop whatever they are doing and check the chat just to see "you're welcome".

I want to be polite, but I also don't want to send messages that contain no useful information. Especially if I reply only several hours later. On the other hand, a message with "hello" only is much worse, because it makes the other person wait for the rest (e.g. a question), while "you're welcome" clearly indicates the end of the conversation.

Is "no hello" rule also applicable to "you're welcome" messages?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    May 3 at 23:53
  • Could people who voted to close the question please explain why? May 4 at 1:59
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    Did not vote to close, but this does not sound like a real issue. To me it seems like such a small thing that does not have any impact on the business if you do it or not. If you don't feel comfortable to say 'your welcome' at work because it's a time waster, then your company probably puts to much pressure on you and your college's to preform. May 4 at 8:43
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One of the big problems with "hello"-only messages is the inadvertent delay you get in getting to the point - there's a delay between the response to "hello" and another delay to the follow-up. Worse yet, the recipient of a "hello" will waste some time after sending their response waiting for the follow-up, if it is not immediate, before returning to their interrupted work.

That's why it's good chat etiquette to avoid "hello"-only messages.

As for "you're welcome" - this is a little different. It closes out a conversation - there is no follow-up. The user will see the notification with the message and that's that - it's barely an interruption at all.

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    Even worse are people who say "Hello" and then wait for you to acknowledge and only then reply with their question. May 2 at 10:03
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    @EricJohnson that's far too unreliable to actually work. Because their answer might be delayed, and yours might be too. "Hello". 10 min later "Hello". 10 min later "here's the pasword: DAS" "darn, just started to share my screen!". If you send something sensitive you always need to explicitly confirm anyway with what you are bout to do so the other side can gauge the risk level of whatever they are doing. And the general defense against accidental spillage is to mute chat systems when presenting and/or just always presenting dedicated windows instead of the full screen. May 2 at 21:16
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    @EricJohnson Why not "May I send / are you ready to receive ___ sensitive information?" or something to that effect instead of the unnecessarily covert "hello"?
    – user45266
    May 3 at 7:22
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    Closing the conversation (by both sides) actually has value, since neither should be expecting any followup with minimal delay. Therefore the "you're welcome" should be encouraged and expected, otherwise you could get into a "wait, but if you do this wrong it will launch the nukes" after the other person says "thanks" and walks away.
    – dbkk
    May 4 at 2:17
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    I concur with @dbkk -- it is actually helpful to know that a conversation is over so I can switch my mind back to whatever it was I was doing before. You can also achieve that effect by using the "thumbs up" button on their last reply, which is slightly less work for them because they don't have to switch back to the chat app to know it was simply an acknowledgement.
    – John Wu
    May 4 at 16:20
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If you're using a chat client that supports message reactions (e.g. Slack), a "thumbs up" or similar reaction to a "Thank you" message might be a solution: you're being polite by acknowledging your colleague's gratitude but in a non-distracting way.

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    This is how we mostly handle this in Zulip. Putting an appropriate emoji at the received message. This does not trigger notifications, but nevertheless gives a short feedback. May 2 at 12:52
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    The client that we are using allows reactions, but it sends notifications about them. So it doesn't matter if I reply or just react to the message, the recipient will get a notification anyway. May 2 at 13:24
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    The excellent and correct answer
    – Fattie
    May 2 at 13:26
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    @lawful_neutral Actually, it does matter to some extent, because a simple reaction will keep the chat history tidier than a reply. This is especially significant if you’re using something like Slack, where you may have a limit to how many old messages you can see. May 2 at 18:08
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    To go even further, even the "Thank you" message should have been a reaction instead of a message - that would have saved even more time on your side while conveying the same information and positive social feelings.
    – mic_e
    May 3 at 3:49
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The problem with "hello" messages is:

  1. It tells me to expect a message after "hello", so now I'm sitting for possibly minutes waiting for you to type out your followup message instead of doing whatever it was I was doing before. My time is being wasted waiting for you to tell me the thing you wanted to tell me instead of you just telling me in the first place.

  2. Nobody actually says "hello" to start a conversation in real life. Like, if you're at work at a desk, you don't turn to your coworker sitting beside you to ask them a question and start the conversation with "hello". It's weird and awkward. In general, treat IM the same way as you would treat an in-person conversation and follow the same general rules.

As for "you're welcome", it's always appreciated. Sometimes (not always), if you leave off the "you're welcome", it can come across as the "thanks" hanging in the air and not being received or recognized; you've thanked someone for their work and they did not acknowledge your gratitude, and that can come off as a bit grating. In particular, the person doing the thanking can feel as though the person they are thanking is begrudgingly helping them and doesn't appreciate the gratitude. It's kind of hard to explain the idea I'm trying to get across so bear with me a bit.

But anyway, the point is, a quick "you're welcome", "no problem", the contractions "yw" or "np", or a simple thumbs-up emoji, are always appreciated. Personally, I always give people a "np :)" whenever they say thanks for anything.

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    On point 2, in real life they may not just say "hello", but they might start off with "hey how are you doing?" and expect a response to that before getting to the point.
    – user20925
    May 2 at 5:31
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    To expand on @user20925's point - while I would not start a conversation with the person sitting beside me with "hello" halfway through the day, if I walked across the office to someone and interacted with them for the first time today, I would likely start with "Hi <name>".
    – Stobor
    May 2 at 11:08
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    "Nobody actually says "hello" to start a conversation in real life." People totally do, though. I could totally see someone walking up to someone at a desk, looming silently for a bit while the person ignores them, and then proceeding to force a response by saying something like "Uhh, hello?"
    – nick012000
    May 2 at 11:11
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    IM and in-person conversations are not the same. I would find it rather jarring if someone spoke a few sentences to me in person without first getting any sort of acknowledgement that I'm actually listening, like one would in an IM. This acknowledgement may not necessarily come in the form of saying "hello" as such, but it's still there. And I would very much expect someone who speaks without acknowledgement to have to repeat the whole thing rather often. May 2 at 11:33
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I want to be polite, but I also don't want to send messages that contain no useful information.

But "You're welcome" does contain information. It contains social information! The information is that your help was given freely and with good will.

As others say, it also closes the conversation in a polite way so that no-one is left hanging.

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  • If you always close a conversation with "you're welcome", it contains no information at all. Then it's just part of a ritual. (Which, by itself can be of value, but information, it won't have).
    – Abigail
    May 2 at 15:51
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    @Abigail Even then there is value - this is the equivalent of saying "Out" on a radio conversation - it ensures that both sides know the conversation is over, and they can both get on with other things. May 3 at 9:11
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    @Abigail - That is not true - not for me at least. I am outspoken and I could finish with, "Please don't ask any further questions" or "I regret to say that I am not at liberty to disclose that information" or "If you continue harassing me, I will notify the police" or "Next time please Google it for yourself". If I say, "You're welcome", I mean it it and it is an invitation to ask again if necessary. May 3 at 10:59
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I had for 10 years at the top of my profile,

"I do not respond to 'hello'. If you want me for something, tell me what it is."

After a productive exchange, "You're welcome" is perfectly acceptable, even if it is 'just noise', it's 'friendly' noise & provides closure. It's the equivalent of saying 'goodbye' on the phone. Only in Hollywood does no-one ever say goodbye.

Conversely, "hello" is completely counter-productive. It demands response before you even commit to helping. It is the approach of the help vampire. A signal that there is not going to be one question which requires an answer, but an entire series of ever-decreasing circles you wish you had never responded to in the first place.

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What I do is to only say "you are welcome" within one minute of receiving a thank you, when I can assume that the other person is not context switching to read my message. If I miss that window I let it be. Failing that, reactions in Slack as mentioned by Egor are very good, but your messaging platform may not support them.

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Stop and fully consider what we are discussing about here: Is replying you're welcome in a chat acceptable? Yes, it is acceptable, it conveys your politeness and kindness.

I mean, the colleague would notice a new chat notification, stop whatever they are doing and check the chat just to see "you're welcome".

Is your colleague so important and does he potentially constantly bear such a life-critical mission that he cannot stand a polite text message? I guess not.

Are we to live in such a world where sending you're welcome is questionable? If one cannot deal with losing a couple of seconds by reading such message, then what a Brave New World we are in.

But I still agree with avoiding a lone "hello" in work-related text messaging, since it does not make a single step towards the goal.

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    Someone who doesn't agree with nohello could say everything in this answer about it -- I don't see this answer making the (relevant, necessary) distinctions. May 3 at 0:50
  • @CharlesDuffy I don't fully understood what you meant to say, but I think you missed an statement about the nohello? There it goes
    – LoremIpsum
    May 3 at 2:05
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    CharlesDuffy's point is that "Is your colleague so important and does he potentially constantly bear such a life-critical mission that he cannot stand a polite text message?" could equally apply to "Hello" as it does to "You're welcome". May 4 at 20:41

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