How not to write an out-of-office e-mail
This week's column is by Online Editor Mike Pilewski.
Are you going to be away from the office for a few days or weeks? If so, take a moment to plan for your absence.
A lot of people set up an automated response to e-mail they get. It's a good way of letting the sender know that your answer won't be immediate. That's the intention, anyway.
However, as with any message, a lot can be read between the lines. Consider the kind of e-mail we receive all too often.
Hi. I am at a seminar in Baku until 12 January. Your e-mail will be neither read nor forwarded.
The person reading this is certainly not being helped. In this case, it would almost be better to have no message at all. What you're really saying is...
1. Attention, thieves! I won't be at home until January.
2. Whatever you want, it's not important to me.
...which does not reflect well on you or your company. What if you wrote this instead?
Hi. I am out of the office until 12 January. I will attend to your e-mail as soon as possible.
This sounds much better, doesn't it? No one needs to know where you are, and you are letting your correspondent know that his or her e-mail will get the attention it deserves.
Of course, if that attention comes a month later, you may still lose a customer. So if you're going to be away for more than a week, you should have your e-mail checked by or forwarded to a colleague. You could also add a line to your automated response, referring your correspondent to a colleague of yours:
In urgent matters, please contact my assistant, Joe Biden: j.b...@spotlight-verlag.de
In the English at Work section in the January Spotlight, business communications expert Ken Taylor offers further suggestions for writing out-of-office e-mail that is both useful and polite. So be sure to pick up the January magazine before you go away!
Happy holidays from all of us at Spotlight Verlag — and whether or not we're in the office, feel free to contact us using the appropriate address on this page or by leaving a comment below.