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- Published: 21 Jun 2023
If you take vacations or are going to be out of the office for any specified amount of time, then it helps to set an out-of-office message so that your coworkers and clients know that you’ll be away. You can make them more effective, however, with a couple of simple practices, namely one particular personal detail.
Get Others to Respect Your Boundaries with This Strategy
Adding context to your out-of-office autoresponder can go a long way toward making sure that people don’t just simply ignore the message and expect a response from you otherwise.
The reasoning behind why this works is simple: by providing context, you’re telling people why you are unavailable, and somehow, providing that reasoning is often enough to get them to respect your boundaries.
For example, let’s say you send an email to someone only to receive the following generic autoresponse:
“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.”
While this should probably be enough to signal that the recipient is unavailable until the 27th, others might see this and see no problem with sending repeat emails, instant messages, or even calling them for a response to something urgent. When enough detail is added, you can make this much less likely. What would you do if you instead saw the following message?
“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.”
There’s a big difference at play here, and it’s in the information provided. In the first draft, people know you’re out of the office, but in the second, they know that you’re out of the office to spend time with your family. Additionally, it respectfully says that they will respond upon their return, and it makes sure that the sender understands what they are going to be interrupting by insisting on sending a message anyway.
You Also Don’t Have to Overshare
There are many reasons why you might be out of the office, including some that you are just not comfortable sharing with others. You don’t need to be overly specific with your out-of-office messages to get others to respect them.
Let’s say you are about to have surgery done. You don’t really want to tell people about the procedure, so you can use a more generalized medical appointment message, like this one below:
“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.”
The key is to be simple and to-the-point with your message, and it should hopefully be enough to keep people from bothering you while you’re out of the office. Maintaining this work-life balance is hard in today’s age of connectivity, so little gestures like this can go a long way toward helping you reclaim some semblance of balance.