You know that feeling you get when something just doesn't sound right, seems unprofessional, offensive or insensitive, like it doesn't belong in the professional space? It's been going on for many years, but more and more often lately, I have been reaching recorded voicemail messages and receiving canned out of office email replies like these;
I'm out of the office with limited access to email through August 31, and will reply to your email at my earliest convenience when I return. If this is urgent, email email@example.com.
You have reached the office of _______________. I will be out of the office through August 31st. Leave your name, number and brief message, and I will return your call at my earliest convenience. If this is an emergency, dial 0 for the operator at anytime.
These are real examples friends, from different people. The only thing I did was not provide identifying information that would embarrass anyone I at some point in time hopefully end up actually communicating with around September 1st (I do realize that may never happen after this post). I'll give the benefit of doubt that rudeness isn't the intention.
I did some checking around to ensure it wasn't just me being hypersensitive after too much coffee. It turns out there is a whole section of Google devoted to the exact phrase "at my earliest convenience". This seemed to be a thing in 2010-2012... you would think at the rate stuff posted to the Interwebz goes viral no one would dare still use it.
Democratic Underground had a field day with this when Sarah Ibarruri just couldn't take it any more.
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. A whole conversation about it went on there aptly tagged politeness.
Over at Recruiting Blogs Perrin Peacock addressed this very same issue with a good vs bad post and very thorough tutorial.
The point is, it's not just me - it is seen as abrasive by almost everyone who doesn't use it.
There is a lot of value in good professional etiquette
Get your I'm not available now messages in shape by using these gold standard template responses you are absolutely welcome to use and customize:
I'm out of the office with limited access to email through (insert date here and leave out parentheses), and will reply to your email as soon as possible after I return. If this is urgent, please forward this reply to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You have reached the office of _______________. I will be out of the office through August 31st. Leave your name, number and brief message, and I will return your call as soon as possible. If this is an emergency, please dial 0 for the operator at anytime.
It's really that easy, just replace the rudeness with 'as soon as possible' and you're all set!