ASAP

When asking for something, it’s really pointless to attach the typical “as soon as possible” to the end. Here’s why:

What I think you mean when you use the phrase “as soon as possible” or, even worse, “ASAP”:

I really want this now or sooner. I don’t care what you’re doing right now. My request is the most important thing in the world right now. Hop to it.

Basically you would like this to take top priority and get done soonest.

But just because it’s your top priority doesn’t automatically mean it should be mine.

What I infer instead, based on reality and the finite resource that is my time:

Hey Simon, please can you do this thing for me, but you know… whenever’s possible. Thanks :)

I like to think you’re not barking a command at me and trying to veil it in false platitudes. I’ll think the best of you if you let me. I even added some polite manners for you.

But what this really translates to is me intentionally assuming (ok, ok ‘being difficult’) that you’re ok with me parking your request at the bottom of my pile, because ‘as soon as possible’ really means ‘after all the other things I gotta do’.

This probably isn’t what you expect, but I’m not going to tell you otherwise because you can’t be straight with me… so why should I be straight with you?

Most people throw “ASAP” around because they don’t consider (i.e. don’t care) what the other person is doing.

So how can you get what you want without all the ambiguity?

Well it’s really simple, be absolutely clear what you need.

DO tell me why you really need this thing now. Prove it. If not, try to figure out the latest point in time that you need it by and tell me that so I can prioritise your request against my other tasks.

DO NOT use the phrase “ASAP” (or any of it’s generally-accepted alternatives) anywhere in your request.

What you will get from me then: a polite response in a timely fashion, thanking you for your polite and thoughtful request, indicating when I will likely get onto your task and get back to you with an update on its progress.

What you probably won’t get: your thing done right now.