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Why Your Boss Really Doesn't Want to Know Your Day-Off Excuse

When it comes to sharing certain details with your boss, some things are better left unsaid--especially when a sick day is involved.

In the 13 years I've spent heading my email marketing company, VerticalResponse, I've been on the receiving end of some pretty creative "sick day" voice mails and emails from people who've worked for or with me. You know, those messages sent early in the morning explaining why they're not feeling well and not coming in to work for the day. Most fall under the category of TMI (too much information).

Here's the deal. For the vast majority of employees out there, you have a certain amount of days in the year you are eligible to take if you're not feeling well or need some personal time off. Some companies separate them into sick days and vacation days; others, like VerticalResponse, lump them all together as paid time off (or PTO).

If the reason you cannot make it to work is that you're sick, say no more. (Some U.S. cities have made paid sick leave a legal right for workers.) Really. We honestly don't want to know:

  • That you've been in the bathroom all night with a gastrointestinal situation. (That was a great voice mail; the voice even went with the pain.)
  • That you're still laid out and now on prescription meds. (Don't need to know that unless the job requires operating heavy machinery.) Just chill and get better.
  • That you've got unbearable "that time of the month" cramps. I think male bosses probably find this even more awkward than me.

In the same vein, we also don't need to know all the nitty-gritty specifics of why you're requesting personal time off. In my opinion, everyone is entitled to whatever set amount of vacation days given out by human resources. Just say you're taking time off, and we'll try not to bother you. We honestly don't want to know:

  • That you'll be attending the golf tournament of your life, and that cell phones are technically allowed but need to be on vibrate, and therefore you won't be available as you normally might be.
  • That the place you're going to is in a remote location, and you're not sure about the Internet access there. So although you're going to try to check email, you might not be able to respond right away.
  • That your relatives are coming to town, and though you haven't had the best relationship with them--that "situation" with Aunt Bertha was particularly awkward--you feel obligated to take a day off to spend time with them.

Got any time-off TMI stories to tell? Please share in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free VR Buzz and check out the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog.

IMAGE: Corbis
Last updated: Jun 12, 2014


Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe company), a leading provider of self-service email and social media marketing tools for small businesses. The company was ranked No. 4,882 on the 2013 Inc. 5000. @janinepopick

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