10 alternatives to communicate a sense of urgency without resorting to “ASAP”

Reading “as soon as possible” in an email usually makes us cringe. There are several problems with this phrase: The request is often urgent for the other person, but not for us; it makes them seem self-important and demanding; and if the timing doesn’t align with our work schedule, we feel stressed and anxious.

That’s a pretty strong reaction to four simple words. Here are 12 alternatives to communicate without using the word “ASAP”.

1)  … by (date and time) because (reason)

Do you have a specific deadline by which this task needs to be done? Use that instead. If the other person has an exact time, they can prioritise their other work accordingly. Plus, you’ll seem less pushy since you have a clear reasoning for your due date.

2) When you have a chance (in the next day, before tomorrow, this week)

Saying “when you have a chance” gives the other person a little breathing room, so you don’t come across as demanding. However, the deadline ensures they’ll still finish your request on time.

3) I apologize for the urgency, but could you please (do X, send me Y, complete Z) at your soonest possible convenience?

This politely worded question communicates the same level of urgency as “ASAP” but in a far more considerate way.

4) EOD (End of Discussion)

All but the most pressing requests can typically wait eight hours. “EOD” shows you’d like the request fulfilled soon, but you’re not asking the other person to drop everything to tackle it.

5) I will be grateful if you can get to this (before X and Y)

Show the other person where this request falls in terms of importance on their to-do list.

6) Since this is a relatively urgent request, let’s put a hold on (X project, Y meeting, Z deliverable) until you’re finished.

When you’re talking to a direct report, use this line. It helps them stay on top of their workload and shows you’re not randomly assigning them work.

7) ASAP, or by (date and time)

“As soon as possible” is pretty vague, so if you must use it, add a date and time to show how important your request is. For instance, you might write, “Please submit your specs ASAP, or by Thursday at 4 p.m.”

8) I normally wouldn’t ask for such a quick turnaround, but (reason for urgency). It would be great if you could address this by (date and time).

Giving an explanation for the tight deadline proves you understand it might be inconvenient for the other person. A little empathy will go a long way.

9) (Timely ask)

Want to really get someone’s attention? Add “[timely ask]” to the end of your email subject line. Not only will it stand out in their inbox, but they’ll be curious to know what’s so pressing.

Just make sure the matter actually is timely — and not just for you, but for them too. If you’re trying to get them to buy in the next six hours so you make quota, rushing them to the finish line will make you look pushy and could backfire.

10) Your quick response would be greatly appreciated

When you’re trying to get a swift reply, try this line. It can come across as passive-aggressive, however, so use it sparingly.

Next time speed is of the essence, try these 10 alternatives to “ASAP” to avoid annoying your recipient.

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