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Tip of the Week: Be Specific in Your Out-of-Office Messages

Tip of the Week: Be Specific in Your Out-of-Office Messages

The out-of-office email is a great tool…provided, that is, that it is used to its full potential. Let’s talk about a simple adjustment you can make to the ones you send to ensure they are much more effective, and much less likely to be ignored as a result.

Here’s the trick: just make sure to include a personal detail in your out-of-office email.

This Personal Detail Can Be the Difference Between a Respected Boundary and an Ignored Email Message

As simple as it sounds, just adding a little bit of additional context can make all the difference amongst many who might try to reach out to you when you are away.

The reason for this is pretty simple, too: by giving that context, you’re explaining your absence in a way that clearly establishes that you are not available and—crucially—why this makes you unavailable.

Let’s say you sent an email to someone, and got the following message back:

“Hi, I won’t be in the office until Thursday the 27th, but I’ll be sure to respond to your email once I’m back.”

Hopefully, this would be enough to stop you from repeatedly reaching out until the 27th, but many people wouldn’t, instead sending repeated emails, and potentially even calling or sending instant messages until a response was received. However, when an additional detail is added to the message, it may be enough to make those people pause. Consider how your thought process might change if you received the following message instead:

“Hi, I’m taking my family on a vacation until Thursday the 27th, but I’ll be sure to respond to your email once I’m back.”

See the difference?

In the first draft of the message, you just know they’re out of the office, but in the second, you know they’re out of the office to spend quality time with their family. The second draft politely makes sure that you know what you’ll be interrupting if you reach out to them repeatedly, seeking a response. Chances are, this will make you think twice about pursuing them more.

You Don’t Need to Overshare, Either

Of course, you may be out of the office for a variety of reasons, not necessarily to take the family on a vacation. The same principle applies, of course, and it isn’t as though you need to be overly specific, either.

Maybe you need some time for surgery. Frankly speaking, it is nobody’s business what this procedure is, so don’t feel pressured to share.

“Hi, due to personal medical needs I will not be able to respond to your message until the 19th, but I will be sure to respond to you once I have returned.”

Simple, to the point, and effective…and while it won’t stop some people from poking, it will hopefully relieve you of the lion’s share of interruptions and messages. It’s important to be able to maintain a balance between work and life. With any luck, this tip will make it that much easier.

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