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Sticky Situation: How to Craft a Respectful Vacation Message

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Jeffrey Coolidge via Getty Images
Jeffrey Coolidge via Getty Images

Sticky Situation:

You're almost there...

One by one you tick off tasks on your pre-vacation to do list.

Phew! Finally. Almost "gone fishing."

One last check and off you go!

This final duty is simple and quick, but very crucial in maintaining a professional image and service attitude: inputting your absence alert messages on your phone and inbox.


To avoid giving the impression that you were too eager to leave, distracted or non-caring, here are 11 reminders and tips to broadcast positively, even when you are away.

1. Inform of your absence with the exact dates.

For your electronic communications, do it in the Subject line, "Absence Alert -- Summer Vacation from date to date, 2015."

On your voicemail, "Absence Alert from date to date, 2015." Remember to state your name and to give all the necessary information as per your employer's policy.

Many will take note of your absence without clicking or listening for the follow-up details.

If possible, with the approval of your supervisor add one or two buffer days before and/or after. This tip will allow you to leave perfectly organized and return productive as indicated in your message.

Avoid surprises for your customers and suppliers, give them one or two weeks notice, before your departure. If necessary, indicate the status of your files.

2. Start with a greeting.

Stay professional and maintain "Hello", "Greetings" or "Good day".

No "Holà," "Aloha," or the greeting of choice for the place that you will be visiting. Although some may appreciate it, it is best to stay safe. You are on vacation, they are not.

3. Do not add, "I'm sorry I missed your call, or email."

"Why Julie?" you ask.

You probably are not sorry and your reader or listener may perceive this cliché as insincere and some may even interpret it as sarcastic.

Having a vacation is normal and even good for your health. Enjoy it, guilt-free!

4. Don't add any vacation details.

Don't mention your destination, how much you need the break, how much better you will be when you get back or funny sayings about what you will do to recharge your batteries.

All of that information is superfluous and your credibility could suffer from TMI (Too Much Information).

5. Add the contact information of someone that may be reached in case of an emergency.

Give the name, title, telephone number and email address of a person that can offer support in your absence.

Make sure that you have shared relevant information for ongoing issues, with that person.

6. Invite the other to communicate with you upon your return.

"Please call, or email, me back as of date."

This tip will minimize your messages.

7. Even if you take your messages and emails remotely, it is best not to mention it.

This will reduce the expected responses due on your post-vacation days.

8. Finish with a brief salutation.

My favourites are: "Have a lovely day," "At your service" and "Kind regards."

Omitting this courtesy could be perceived as being inattentive or too eager to leave.

9. Add sticky notes on your computer and your phone to remind you to remove your Absence Alerts when you get back.

It never makes a good impression when your message is expired.

It can even be frustrating for those who are trying to get in touch with you. They will wonder if your absence was extended.

10. Relaxed, resume your functions at full capacity as soon as you get back on the job.

Don't complain about the heavy workload that is ahead of you to catch up.

Don't mention the number of emails in your inbox. Even if everyone agrees that this inevitable consequence is alarming, nobody is interested. This is not a competition. And, those who will not be vacationing this summer may even be envious of the 333 emails that come with a week in paradise. This trivial information can frustrate many.

Don't even think about sending all of your photos to everyone in the office.

11. Don't come back in "vacation" wear.

No destination t-shirts and even wearing sunglasses on your head could leave the impression that you are not ready to work at full capacity.

Actually this tip also applies to your last day before your vacation. Look your part at all times.

Reread this post for a complete list of what not to wear at work when it's hot.

Now that you are ready to go on vacation, shut off your computer, close the door to your office, put on your headset and "Don't worry be happy". Your Vacation Absence Alert will keep your credibility intact.

Have fun making memories with loved ones!

You have a sticky situation at work or at home? This is your forum. Write to Julie and she will reply promptly. Want more solutions to sticky situations? Go to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or order your autographed copy of Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility. Planning a conference? Julie happily travels coast to coast and beyond, to present customized activities. With Julie's help gone will be awkwardness, embarrassment and faux-pas.

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