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Hold back on ‘out-of-office’ notes

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in Workplace Communication

Steer clear of “oversharing” when it comes to out-of-office messages sent to the rest of the office.

For example: “I’ll be leaving the office at 4 p.m. today. I’m taking my daughter to the dentist. Please send any urgent requests to Pam.”

The message isn’t extremely personal, but does it really need to explain where the sender is going? Explaining an early departure to your boss is one thing. But unless the information is relevant, avoid putting it in a message going to a large group. Co-workers can assume you have a legitimate reason for leaving the office at 4.

Alison Green, who writes the “Ask a Manager” blog, says oversharing can sometimes look suspicious: “Similar to how when someone’s calling in sick with genuine illness, they usually just say, ‘I’m going to be out sick,’” but fakers will generally give you a long list of overly specific symptoms, like they feel they have to convince you.”

Another example: “I’ll be leaving the office at 4 p.m. today. I’m taking my daughter to her first dance audition. Wish us luck! Please send any urgent requests to Pam.”

On the plus side, this sort of message allows co-workers to know you better. Building personal relationships at work can lead to professional success. That being said, it may rub some people the wrong way—especially if they were unable to take time off in similar situations.

Admin advice: Err on the side of undersharing versus oversharing.

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