“When Rudeness Becomes the New Normal: Why Tech Business Etiquette Would Be Unacceptable Anywhere Else”

Technology has a business etiquette to it that would be highly rude in any other discourse. In normal human interaction, you meet someone and at some point in the conversation, they cordially ask you what you do. You tell them. Maybe they ask you another question or two like, "Do you like it?" or some other friendly banter, then conversation moves on.

 

Now let's replace that normal conversation with the abnormal and immediately invasive conversation that occurs when you answer the riveting question "So what do you do?" with some version of "I run a software company." or "I'm in tech." They then get a very serious look on their face, and OH BOY, the inquisition begins. But it usually starts with what seems like the most innocent question, "So is it launched?" I then try to imagine someone saying they run a law firm, or have a medical practice, or run a consulting firm, or have a contracting business...is the very next question EVER "So is it launched?" This baffles me. I didn't say "I'm working on..." or "I've been thinking about trying...", I said "I run a software firm." In any other industry or setting, the person would give a confused stare back in response to that question, and might even be slightly offended at the person asking that question, but apparently there are so many people running around in the technology world speaking of "what they do" before it actually exists in reality, that this is a necessary conversation qualifier with a technology entrepreneur. Ok, I accept.

 

 

The second question...I just don't know where else this would be acceptable. "So...how do you make money? What's your growth plan?" Excuse me? Hello Joe Blow off the street, if I was 2 questions into a conversation with you, and asked you about your money and your growth plans, how would that go over? More importantly, how WEIRD is that in a normal conversation. You don't even think to ask someone that question in a normal conversation. The answer is assumed to be they charge people. But in technology, however, the assumption seems to be that you are likely running around building something, letting people use it for free, then trying to figure out how to make a business out of it later. Technology entrepreneurs - stop saying you do stuff before you actually do it, and while you're at it, start building some stuff you actually charge people for, so I can stop getting asked stupid questions.