The art of the out-of-office reply

The art of the out-of-office reply

You never know when some pedestrian piece of writing is going to go viral. Sometimes it’s benign like this ambitious out-of-office autoreply. Hopefully it’s not a career-ending tweet. But in this case, a Dallas News editor’s attempt to create a better response to people’s emails when he’s on vacation ended up attracting nationwide attention.

The actual point of all this, though, is that it reinforces something I picked up some time ago. I wish I could remember where. But the lesson was: When you write, everything is literature. Your grocery list. The note to your wife. The email to your mom. Your out-of-office reply. If it’s going to be read by someone, you owe it to them to make it worth their time.

You should also keep in mind that it can come back to embarrass you. I remember Howie Carr’s old maxim: “Never write when you can speak, never speak when you can nod. Don’t leave a paper trail.”

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli

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