High-Risk Language

Nine days ago I went to pick up a batch of newly printed business cards. Unfortunately, the cards had been incorrectly printed and had to be redone. When the printer asked when I needed them, I responded, "No rush. I still have some."

Because of a business meeting I will attend next week, I phoned the printer today to ask whether the new cards were ready. I was told "We haven’t even started. You said there was no rush."

"No rush" is a phrase that gets people into trouble. That’s because–like "when you get to it," "at your earliest convenience," and even "ASAP"–it means different things to different people.

To me, "no rush" meant "I don’t need them for a few days." To the printer, the phrase meant "Whenever."

Since I teach business writing, I should have known better.

Moral: I should always have extra business cards available in case of an emergency.


  1. As a web designer, when someone says to me “no rush,” my first thought is “yahoo, I have lots of extra time.” Yes indeed, in any service-oriented request, I recommend giving a specific date. Otherwise, most of us take the path of least resistance and enjoy the “extended” deadline.

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