February 24, 2011

Stop using this phrase…ASAP!

Did you ever ask someone to do something “ASAP” and then not get what you want, when you wanted it?  Here’s why that happened:

The phrase ASAP lets people choose their own deadline.  It means “as soon as possible,” which – in their world – might be now, tomorrow, next Wednesday, or never.  Everyone has their own to-do list and method of prioritization, so the vague direction of ASAP puts the power in the recipient’s hands to judge the level of urgency.

And this is a no-no for getting people to do what we want. 

YOU keep the power, or else your own to-do list will always be at the mercy of other people’s timelines.  This doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible in your deadline…but if you don’t give one as a starting point, how will the person know where it fits in their to-do list?

There was a time when ASAP implied “immediately,” but those days are over.  We’ve abused the phrase too much for it to have any real meaning (see how we also did this to the phrase “I’m sorry”).

So, if you want to greatly increase the chance that your deadline will be met, be clear in your request and state the specific day/time you would like to see results.

Want to comment on this post?  Do it…right now, immediately, without delay, before doing anything else, this instant, before 10:30am EST on 2/24/11.  (But you can do it later too, if you want…I’m flexible.)