I’ve found myself writing the phrase “as soon as possible” just too often. Sometimes I wonder if it sounds a little rude. How can I convey the same meaning in a more polite way but without losing sense of urgency?
Unlike what you feel, as soon as possible is not considered rude. The abbreviated asap is very common in business emails and is accompanied with a 'Please' to convey the sense of polite urgency.
Please finish this task asap.
One alternative to asap is at the earliest.
Please finish this task
as soon as possibleat the earliest.
Another choice would be to re-word your statement as follows.
I request you to expedite this task.
Expedite conveys the sense of urgency in a formal way.
I often need to ask for things to be returned to me. In a business setting, I have found that giving people a specific date (and sometimes a specific time) helps them. I always follow up with something like, "If you feel you need more time than that, please let me know." or "If this deadline is not feasible, please let me know." Adding that sentence shows the recipient that you are sensitive to his or her schedule. Giving a firm date helps the recipient be cognizant of your schedule.
I have found writing, "when you get a chance" or "as soon as possible" leaves it too much up in the air. And, as the saying goes, if it weren't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done. Your items of business will be pushed back in the recipient's schedule and then you find yourself trying to find a polite way to write, "where's my stuff!?!"
- Your prompt attention to this matter is greatly appreciated
- We would appreciate your immediate attention
- Your immediate response on this matter is highly appreciated
- Your cooperation is highly solicited
- Time is of the utmost importance
- Time is of the essence
Time is of the essence
Timing and meeting all the deadlines are essential and required. (Often seen in contractual agreements.) e.g. The final payment is due on the first day of December, by midnight. Time is of the essence.
All of the above are very formal, strait-laced expressions, and depending on the reader, they may even sound grating, ‘stuffy’ or clichéd. But if the writer has clearly and politely described the situation which calls for a prompt reply, I see no reason why the receiver would be irked.
Alternatively, the writer could simply state the deadline
- Please reply by Thursday this week/this Thursday.
- Can you send me your report by March 10 2016?
- Please get in touch with us on Monday with the results.
The phrase I have adopted is
"As soon as available"
with "available" being used with this definition:
(of a person) not otherwise occupied; free to do something.
It keeps the same phrase style by replacing the final word, but shifts the meaning that, regardless if this is "possible" or not, some response must be sent as soon as they are "not otherwise occupied".
However, since we are still trying to be polite it is still open for negative responses if you end up waiting too long (e.g. Sorry, I wasn't available until now.).