E-mails containing the phrase “as soon as possible” (or ASAP) can often be regarded by the receiver as rude and possibly make you seem as if you thought your work (or time) is more important than theirs. Forbes recently named emails with ASAP in the subject line among 5 of the rudest.
- It’s an easy and quick way to let people know how urgent the request in the e-mail really is.
- It is a very popular acronym and almost everyone knows what it means.
- Many times, the recipient of the e-mail isn’t aware of what “ASAP” really means. Sometimes it is understood as “whenever you can do this, please” when perhaps the sender means “do it soon as it is quite urgent”.
- People may understand it as an order. Sometimes reading things like “I need last month’s report ASAP” feels like you’re being told what to do by some sort of a sergeant.
- When overused, it becomes meaningless. If every single report and presentation needs to be sent ASAP then the meaning of the phrase fades away.
6 Alternatives for ASAP
Consider some alternatives to ASAP which can help you convey the urgency of your request without sounding bossy, such as:
- At your earliest convenience. This means you really need that report but you are able to wait until the person has time to make it.
- “… by (date and time) because (reason)”. This means you have a clear deadline for what you need and it allows the receiver to prioritize your request taking into consideration the deadline. It is also quite helpful that you stated a reason as it seems a lot less bossy.
- “EOD” – End Of the Day. Once more, stating the deadline is incredibly helpful, it allows you to give the receiver time to fulfill your request but also conveys that you need it on the same day.
- “I’d be grateful if you got to this (before A and B).” It shows you recognize the person may have other duties whilst showing how important your request is and letting them know it is ok to put other things on hold to prioritize what you need.
- “Is (date and time) feasible for (activity)?”. This is a good way of making it seem like the person has a choice of when to deliver the request. However, a good trick is to always choose an earlier date than you really need it by. This way you may be showing flexibility by extending the deadline.
- “This is time-sensitive.” This simple phrase conveys even more pressure than ASAP without the possibility of misunderstanding.