Congratulations on the new role. Hope you are doing well!

The is of responding. Recently on LinkedIn I joined a conversation. It focused on the good or bad reality of 100 or so congrats on your new role, messages that are automated and generic. Automated in the sense that LinkedIn prompts you, but sent by the person because they choose to. The question poised was the difference between taking a minute and writing a personal note, and just sending the automated message.

Which is better? I can say first off the question bothers me a lot. It makes me wonder about people frankly. If 100 of your 1000 contacts take a second to congratulate you, it is an awesome event. 10% of the people connected to you felt motivated to notice your life for a minute before moving on. 900 people didn’t by the way.

So why the angst over the time spent? Why does it matter if someone takes 10 seconds (clicks two buttons) or takes 25 seconds (and clicks 25 buttons)? Yes, personal messages are wonderful and inspiring. Out of the 100 you get, hopefully 4 or 5 were personal and inspiring. But the other 95 or 96 were sent with the intent of inspiration. Not everyone is comfortable writing their feelings. Many people are much better at calling on the telephone or seeing you in the hall, stopping you and congratulating you personally.

Is this the hill to die on?

My grandfather would always ask me that, when I would tell him about some horrible affront I had experienced. Some slight that caused me to become as he called it “riled up.” He would laugh and looking back over the 50 or so years of work experience he had beyond mine say “it doesn’t matter that much boy.” It always made me stop and think. He was always right about it not mattering.

So it doesn’t really matter. Take offence, don’t take offense. Totally your call. Wholly your position. I send my somewhat generic greeting because I get 30 or so a day and frankly I have other things to do. My heartfelt congratulations to you, my connection to your moment in the sun is just that my connection. If my connection doesn’t meet your personalized criteria than let me say now I am sorry. The intent of me sending a non-personal greeting was as much to connect and to confirm as it was to congratulate. To for a moment let you know that you crossed my mind. Yes, a deeply personal greeting filled with memories of the time we, using only the GPS on our cell phones, managed to work our way to the lobby of the Hilton hotel in Paris. It was a tough journey fraught with dangerous merchants attempting to sell us miniature Eiffel towers but we made it! Yes, that would be a deeply personal comment and I would treasure it.

What’s that you say? You weren’t with me in Paris? How about Prague? Or Amsterdam? You weren’t there either? Yes, a deeply personal message from the people I have been to various places with means a lot. I expect those close friends to send me something more personal. As for the many connections I have on LinkedIn I am honored when one of them takes 10 seconds to congratulate me. If 100 do, I count it an awesome day.

William Shakespeare perhaps put it best with his famous line “me thinks he doth protest too much.” Personally I am proud of every congratulation I get. I would love to take a minute and call all 100 or 84 or whatever number of people take the time to connect with me. I treasure each one. Thank you! And by the way, congrats on that new role!

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PS Good luck with the new role. I hope the kids are ok. Sorry to hear your dog died. Congrats on the new house. Sorry to hear you were laid off. Sorry to hear your mom died. Sorry to hear your dad died. Sorry to hear you are getting divorced. I would be mortified if there was a public post of virtually any of the above. Please keep my congratulations to the generic! Well the first two are ok, but you get the idea.