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Chris Coyier wrote about email expectation handling the other day.

I took a little time to respond (thanks for the async expectations, email!) and wrote back what I hoped was an equally thoughtful, and hopefully helpful, response.

But then nothing.

To be fair, there were no action items. No lingering questions. No big obvious reason that another reply was needed.

It just felt off.

I run into this feeling all the time, and it isn't limited to email conversations.

Whether it's Slack, email, Twitter replies (or literally any text communication), many conversations just die. There's no "thank you!" or "talk later!" to wrap things up. Apparently, it's okay to just move the human interaction off the todo list.

No action item? Cool, no response!

And I'm guilty of archiving a conversation without saying goodbye many times myself. But Chris is right. Often, this behavior is off.

There surely is a balance here. With hundreds of daily text messages, we're all guilty of sending the common "apologies for the late reply" message caused by an inbox showing more unread messages than the number of years we've lived on this planet. And nobody wants to receive more useless "thank you" messages, right?

Yet, after a bit of inbox back and forth, a quick "Thank you. Talk soon again!" comes a long way. It makes things more human. It's too easy to forget that all these words in front of us aren't just todos; there's a person on the other end (at least most of the time).

And because we forget this, too many text conversations lack closure.

You wouldn't start a Slack or email thread without greeting someone, would you?

But somehow, this urge to say hello doesn't apply to saying goodbye in text. And that's okay because we're "asyncing".

In "real" life, people who aren't saying hello or goodbye are perceived as arrogant, weird or unsympathetic. Writing emails or Slack threads doesn't seem to be in the real world, then. Professional text conversations live in a world that has to be efficient and quick and async, and apparently there's no time to wrap things up.

Yet, it feels off. And sure, it is more work for all involved parties to close a conversation. But the big of a change async and remote-first working is, some real world behaviors and politeness are worth it.

At the end of the day, it's just me and another person trying to get things done. And for me, things are only really done when they have some closure.

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About the author

Stefan standing in the park in front of a green background

Frontend nerd with over ten years of experience, "Today I Learned" blogger, conference speaker, Tiny helpers maintainer, and DevRel at Checkly.