Wait…You Banned Good Morning?
Starting the day with a good morning message seems polite but it drives me nuts. I banned it.
Hollywood has done a great job of glorifying what a morning looks like for a business executive. In the movies, you see a business executive walk in. As the executive swaggers towards his (and its usually a he) office he is greeted by various staff members. Each staff member has dialog that is more or less the following:
Good morning Mr. Johar. Here is your coffee.
Good morning Mr. Johar, Bitcoin is currently trading at 17,000.
Good morning Mr. Johar, your meeting with Karlie Kloss is confirmed for noon.
The reality is nothing like this.
With communication going digital, most good mornings start on Slack. I’ve usually started my work day before others get in, and with my office in the back corner most people’s first opportunity to wish me good morning begins on Slack.
The typical cadence for someone when they come to work is to head to their desk, check their emails from the evening before and then head to go get their morning coffee.
More likely that not, one or more emails they received is some crazy shit that came through from a customer that could use a second look. So just before heading to get their coffee, I get a message: Good Morning. I reply Good Morning and then I get further details on what the problem is at hand.
You may not be aware, but it turns out a big part of our communication over the internet operates in a similar manner. You may have heard of the protocol TCP/IP which is a set of messages computers send to each other to make sure messages sent are actually received. The key part of TCP is known as the 3-way handshake
The first part of the handshake is SYN. This is that first computer saying good morning.
The second part is the computer replying ACK. This is the second replying, top of the morning to you too!
The final step is the first computer returning a SYNACK message, which is basically just a thank you.
One the 3-way handshake is finished the first computer can start telling the second computer whatever it really wanted to talk about. The idea behind the 3-way handshake it to make sure the other computer is listening and ready.
What happens when a computer says good morning, it receives a reply but then never says thank you?
You’ve probably experienced this phenomenon when you’ve started a texting conversation with someone and then mid-story they disappear. You start wondering to yourself, did I say something wrong? Or just wtf where was the BRB?
In the world of TCP/IP, when computers send SYN, receive the ACK but never send a SYNACK, they are actually creating really bad situation in machine they are tacking to. This is called a SYNFLOOD attack and it is one of the popular ways hackers use to deny access to a system.
What bothers me about the good mornings is that they are often paired with a break mid-good morning as the staff member goes and gets their coffee.
Our team is usually busy at the same time, like the Tuesday after a long weekend, which means I’ll get 5 to 7 good mornings, with a long pause before finding out what the real ask is.
When I see good morning, I pause what I’m doing to brace for whatever is about to come next. When nothing comes next I end up burning patience way too early in the day for no reason.
I spent a lot of time figuring what it was about going to work that gave me stress and I decided to do something about each item. It turned out this SYNFLOOD of good mornings gave me anxiety. I started to pair the phrase “good morning” with “I’m about to unload some crazy shit on you.”
It got so bad that one morning my mom wished me good morning via text message at the same time I had 9 half-open good morning exchanges in Slack. I ended up flipping out at my mom. Of course mom’s always forgive but it was time to address this with my team.
I gave a summary explanation of the above to each of the team members I work with on a regular basis, and quickly instead of getting the good morning; [pause]; unleashing of problems; I now get it all in one message. [Good morning, I am having xyz issue, can you take a look when you have a chance]
I can start addressing whatever the trouble is as the person gets their coffee. Everyone wins :).
I actually never banned good morning, but requested that this good morning pattern interrupt be compressed.
However, one morning I walk in and one of the new staff members says to me, “good morning!” her eyes slowly shift, and she says “sorry I heard you are the guy that banned good morning.”
So there you have it. “Good morning” is banned!