I’m encountering an increasing number of auto-respond emails from intended recipients who are out of the office, claiming they will delete all emails sent to them while on vacation. This approach employs a warning system and is a less-than-subtle effort to persuade senders to hold that email until later — or maybe even reconsider whether the message needs to be sent in the first place.
It’s also an effective, if unconventional and arguably offensive, way to let people know you don’t want to be bothered. Which makes it a perfect example of dissuasion — the act or process of trying to persuade someone not to take a particular course of action.
I once worked with a woman who would leave out-of-office messages that sounded like an emergency drill had been activated: “This is a voicemail alert! This is a voicemail alert! I am out of the office and will not be returning calls or answering email until I return on August 1. This has been a voicemail alert.”
Let’s just say the first time you hear that it gets your attention.
Again, unconventional and arguably obnoxious. But it sure was effective at dissuading callers from leaving a message.
A third approach to out-of-office dissuasion is to be brutally honest with whoever deigns to call you when you’re not available: “Hey, this is Kim. If I don’t call you back, you’re the reason I screen my calls.”
Will you bother to be bothered this week?