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Don't DM me

Published
2 minutes read

Well, you can, but you most likely shouldn't. Let me explain.

PS: This post is mostly about communcation in a professional setting.

When working on a project with someone, a team, people are often assigned different roles where they are supposed to do different stuff.

If you have a project leader reaching out to you directly, asking for a status update or a general question about a project, that conversation ends between you two. No one else knows about that conversation. If one of you tells someone else about that conversation, the converstation has to be retold, and not continued in the same context.

If the project leader where to ask you for a status update in a public channel, eg. project specific channel, everyone else would be able to read what your status update is. Another benefit here could be if I'm unable to answer, someone else could let the project leader know my status or that I might be unable to answer for an uncertain amount of time.

Another reason why you shouldn't DM, is that new people onboarded will be able to see the communcation history. You'll have a searchable history for everything: status updates, questions, meeting notes etc.

One thing I hear every now and then, is that when you write in public channels you message "everyone", and you don't want to bother everyone. But if you are using modern platforms, like Slack, Google Chat, MS Teams etc., you won't bother everyone unless they have set their notifications to be "on" for every message. By writing everything in public channels, you are doing basically the opposite of bothering everyone, you're enabling everyone to join the converstation and encouraging an open communcation culture. An open communication culture where information doesn't get lost.

If you are about to DM someone, is the contents of the message confidential information, sensitive issues, or personal matters? If no, then message them in public.

And instead of keeping meeting notes, action items and status updates in a separate place, you could simply post them publicly as text or link to them via a public channel.

As in my earlier post about No hello, if someone DMs you, simply ask them if they can ask you again in a suitable public channel. They will eventually realize that it's a better way to communicate.

This post was inspired by Mathias' post about transparent notes and the importance of them.