July 26, 2023

Better Contexts, Better Life

Some emails generate an increased pulse rate. Not out of excitement — but out of a primal urge to shout out like an enraged monkey.

As I breathe-in for the third time, I realize the request itself is not the source of my anger. The lack of context usually is. Emailing me something which reads like a SQL query, will generally lead to an answer that is business-speak for syntax error.

Am I too precious to be to told what to do without explanation? Well, yes. But, that’s not it. For better or worse, I try to keep my ego outside most of my work interactions. Many years have taught me that — given my personality — it always comes back to haunt me.

The main problem is that asks” without context will lead to multiple interactions if the query doesn’t have an exact match:

  • Do you have file X?
  • Can you send invoice Y?
  • Do you have the FY23 number for Z?
  • Are you available?

I’m sure you can replace the above generics with something that makes sense in your world. Again, the problem arises when the answer requires some sort additional detail (which is almost always the case):

  • I have last week’s version of file X.

  • I don’t have the invoice Y yet.

  • The FY23 number for Z depends on how…

  • I have 15 min, why do you require my availability?

    Just by adding some minimal context to the request, not only can you better find the answer, but you can generate one if an exact match doesn’t exist. A few sentences can make a lot of difference. My blood pressure will thank you.

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