ASAP or As soon as possible 21 Sep 2005

41 comments Latest by asdf

ASAP has such varied meaning. When you spell it out “as soon as possible” it sounds docile, almost “hey, whenever you get a chance”-like. But when it’s “ASAP” it sounds hostile, almost unreasonable. Weird, that’s all.

41 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Jamie 21 Sep 05

Maybe it’s the ALL CAPS? Or sociologically Americans are intimidated by acronyms? :P

joshua Blankenship 21 Sep 05

Someone actually said “ASAP” to me the other day and I noticed the same thing. “I need that A-SAP.” Geez, ok, ok… I can see that this is important to you.

Chris Tingom 21 Sep 05

That is sooo true!

Michael Simmons 21 Sep 05

Maybe it’s just me, but I think saying “A-S-A-P” is obnoxious.

Chris Tingom 21 Sep 05

Another thing, is it just me or is everything ASAP nowadays?

Coudal 21 Sep 05

We had a client ask this once. Really.
“How late can we give you approval and still have it ASAP?”

Jared 21 Sep 05

I totally agree. I try to avoid using ASAP, especially in email where it is already so difficult to avoid misinterpretations of a message’s tone.

sixtoe 21 Sep 05

I have a business idea called “The ASAP Group.” It’s basically an ad agency guaranteeing to work as fast as possible on whatever you need. There is no guarantee, however, on the quality of what you get, but I do promise it to be finished extremely quickly. I would only hire writers and designers who agree to produce the first thing that pops into their heads. We’d have no account managers, since there’s no point in presenting work if the only criteria for success is speed. We’d charge the same as everyone else—but without all those annoying “rush charges.” My only requirement is that all feedback must be submitted immediately as well. None of the “I need to show this around” routine. Anyone interested?

Andrea 21 Sep 05

I have an “ASAP Meter” on my site, because I find it so offensive when someone says it to me. I immediately go and add 1 to the meter to cool off. Keeps me from sending a rude response…

Russ 21 Sep 05

I think “ASAP” is best used as as acronym for “As Simple As Possible”.

dustin 21 Sep 05

the need to qualify a request with ASAP is funny because when do we not want something ASAP? I definitely try to avoid it in emails. my favorite, friendly hurry up term is “pronto”.

Don Wilson 21 Sep 05

Good posting, this is a pretty interesting definition-based look at the two same terms.

sean 21 Sep 05

It sounds hostile and unreasonable because, almost invariably, the people that use ‘ASAP are hostile and unreasonable…

Mark Priestap 21 Sep 05

“I have an �ASAP Meter� on my site” LOL.

To make matters worse, MS Outlook automatically capitolizes “ASAP”. Maybe they didn’t realize capitolizing sometimes reads as yelling. Or maybe they did.

Brad 21 Sep 05

And what about “COB”?

I sometimes play on the definition of “COB” a bit; if a client calls me at 5pm looking for something I promised them by “COB today” I say, “Oh I meant by close of MY business today, which could be as late as 10 tonight.” Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t….

Dave Simon 21 Sep 05

You can have it ASAP as long as you don’t mind it being FUBAR.

Benjy 21 Sep 05

I just got an email from my boss about a project that needs to be done asap… what’s the urgency if it’s lower case?

Mark 21 Sep 05

ASAP has an urgency about it - As soon as possible doesn’t.
When was the last time you did work for a client when it wasn’t urgent, in their eyes at least.

The city of Houston is telling me to bug out ASAP to avoid getting slammed by Katrina II (Rita). I’m more than happy to oblige, and not at all put-off by the hostile / unfriendly / urgent tone at which they’re telling me to do it.

I’d be bothered by - “please run for your lives as soon as possible — please?”

See ya’ll on the dirty side…

Mike B 21 Sep 05

When someone says ASAP it means they didn’t even have the time to type it out. That’s how big the hurry is.

Reuben Ahmed 21 Sep 05

ASAP is from Office Space. Mark Priestap did not spell capitalizes correctly…

Dan Boland 21 Sep 05

I’ve noticed in my own speech patterns that if I don’t say ASAP, I say “as soon as humanly possible,” probably because the urgency is indeed lost otherwise.

Anonymous Coward 21 Sep 05

Sometimes I do need it ASAP or else everything gets FUBAR.

blogschrift 21 Sep 05

My working experience tells me that every task which has to be done “asap” normally is not worth the trouble.
I like sixtoes idea about the “The ASAP Group” but at least nearly all agencies already are little “ASAP Groups”…

Tom McKay 21 Sep 05

As a copywriter, I find the innuendos — and everyone’s interpretations of them — fascinating!

I can’t wait to blog about it asap. Er, I mean ASAP. Or, as I prefer, “at your earliest convenience”.

Ben Hirsch 21 Sep 05

So true!! I hate when people (especially clients) use ASAP and I never use it myself because of that. It makes no sense to me. And even worse, because it makes no sense, I then have to clarify what they mean when they say it.. and they look at me as if I am crazy.

Vui Lo 21 Sep 05

The same is true with FYI, every time I see or hear it, my mind goes: ” Sorry, but I don’t really think your words are that informative, so don’t FYI me!”

Don Wilson 21 Sep 05

What’s interesting is that if you put periods in between the letters, it looks slightly less demanding: Please respond A.S.A.P.

DD 21 Sep 05

i think the acronym has taken a different meaning than the phrase. ASAP means now!, ‘As Soon As Possible’, means please hurry, but when you get a chance.

i don’t think they mean the same thing even though they mean the same thing.

lyndonk 22 Sep 05

When I was in VietNam, one of the non-coms used to say “Get it done SuperASAP” - as when lives depend on it.

Chris Mear 22 Sep 05

The problem with both ‘ASAP’ and ‘as soon as possible’ is that the Mr. A is making a scheduling decision on behalf of the Mr. B. But what Mr. A is really trying to communicate is a priority: ‘this task is more important than that other stuff I told you about’.

Phrased that way, it’s up to Mr. B to understand that priority and figure out how he’s going work that into his schedule. Mr. B feels empowered, because Mr. A has demonstrated that he trusts him and respects his time.

If Mr. A just says ‘ASAP’, Mr. B feels like he’s just there to receive orders, and isn’t trusted to organise his own work. It also feels like Mr. A thinks his schedule and his stuff is more important than anyone elses.

I think that’s the real reason ‘ASAP’ feels so unreasonable.

Danny Hope 22 Sep 05

Ever noticed people saying

“Can you do this as soon as possible?”

logically the answer can never be “No.”

Just a pet peeve of mine.

Adam Michela 22 Sep 05

Deep. :]

Mark Gallagher 22 Sep 05

I try to avoid use of ASAP, but it’s an interesting communication problem. How do you get the attention of a co-worker (not in your department) to get some immediate help on an urgent problem?

Can be difficult in any company where the “go-to” people that solve the big problems get a ton of urgent voicemails, IMs, and e-mails every day.

Here is what I do.

I first look to see if they are on IM. If yes, IM them this:

“HeyTom …. need a little help”

“I’m ringing you in a sec …. can you pick up ?”

If not available on IM, I call the person and I probably bounce to their voicemail.

Here is my voicemail (and what I am thinking).

“Tom, this is Mark, hope you are doing well.”

“Hey, I need your help.”

“You’re the only one that knows how to fix this quickly”

(compliment without kissing butt, and at the same time communicate urgency)

“I’m getting a lot of urgent calls from senior types.”

(relating to their world without name dropping)

“We’re doing a broadcast email to all employees and the Notes server just failed, I’m emailing you the error message we see.”

“Please take a quick look and give me a ring (2-5522).


I follow-up with an email with this subject and text:

Subject : Help >>> Notes Server Down

Tom, I left you a voicemail on this. We need your help to take a quick look at this.

Here is a screenshot of the error message…..


Ring me back at 2-5522

Thanks a lot.


Kim Siever 22 Sep 05

Whenever someone at work asks me to do something ASAP, I respond by saying I always do everything as soon as possible.

Steve F. 22 Sep 05

The counter to this example is the less-hostile sounding acronym “GTFDOISYITFWAGH,YOC-F” which when spelled out as “Get this fucking done or I’ll shoot you in the face with a goddamn howitzer, you overpaid coffee-fetcher” seems somewhat more grumpy.

Ben Curtis 22 Sep 05

Where I work we always translate a request for something ASAP as a request for something STP — Sooner Than Possible. That’s because whenever we get an ASAP request and we say “the earliest we could get that done with our current workload is …”, the response we get is “but we need it sooner than that.” Ah, then you need it STP!

Dave C 22 Sep 05

Seems like the trick in is the word “possible”.

“Sorry, it’s just not possible for me to do this before next year, but don’t worry, you’ll have it ASAP.”

Of course, if you make people stop saying ASAP, they might say something like “Get it done today!” Not a great alternative.

Barry 22 Sep 05

If someone asks me to have something done ASAP, what they probably really meant is that they wanted it done stat (adv. with no delay, immediately). If I can’t get it done quick enough for them, I’ll always have semantics as an excuse ;-)

Alison 24 Sep 05

There is also a relatively simple linguistic — more specifically, phonetic — explanation for the greater feeling of urgency in “ASAP” as opposed to the whole phrase. The acronym ends in a very sharp consonant, leaving you with the “p” sound, whereas the whole phrase “as soon as possible” is softer, ending with the somewhat blurry “bl” sound. Sound symbolism like this occurs in tons of places throughout language.

—Alison R., B.A., Linguistics, 2005 ;)

asdf 20 Jul 06

Well, if you think about it you should understand that ASAP can ‘t be any earlier than as soon as possible.
I know when people hear “as soon as possible” they think they have all the time in the world but it really isnt so.