In a Better Business Writing class last week, a maintenance manager was looking for alternatives to "ASAP" (as soon as possible). As someone constantly on the receiving end of ASAP requests, she wanted a different phrase to use when she was requesting. She was tired of the snappy sounding ASAP, which she pronounced like a word rather than letter by letter, and she wondered about "at your earliest convenience."
Here are some alternatives with my interpretations:
–at your earliest convenience (formal, polite, but doesn’t sound terribly urgent)
–right away (urgent but not bossy)
–urgent/urgently (drop what you are doing–it’s urgent!)
–as soon as possible (almost urgent, a gentler version of the acronym)
–immediately (urgent, sounds bossy)
–as soon as you can (almost urgent, friendly)
–without delay (means now, sounds formal and a bit bossy)
–at once (urgent and bossy)
–soon (not quite urgent)
–quickly (not quite urgent)
–promptly (may suggest the reader has been slow)
–straight away (British for "at once" without the bossy feeling)
What do you write when you need something ASAP? What do you like to read when people ask you for immediate action? Please comment.