How To Text Your Boss If An Emergency Comes Up & You Can't Make It To Work

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Sometimes, life gets serious. We can't always plan for a loved one to need us on a Monday morning, or for unexpected situations in our own lives. In those moments, it feels like we've sort of hit rock bottom, or that the real world just got very — well, real. It's then time to handle the situation like the adult we've somehow become. And, to add on to the stress, we also have to think about work, if a situation calls for us to be elsewhere. You've spent some time fine tuning your professional skills, but how to text your boss in an emergency may still be really unclear. And though we can't plan for an emergency, you can be confident the next time you have to text your boss in a particularly sticky situation.

If your absence will affect a team working on a larger project, then you'll definitely want to fill in more people than just your boss. Even if you've started to make friends with your coworkers, it could be a good idea to confide in someone you know well, who can relay a larger message for you to the rest of your team. The point is, once you enter the working world, life isn't about just you anymore; you're likely a part of something larger, or a group of people working toward a larger goal.

To figure out the best way to handle a last-minute absence from work, Elite Daily reached out to Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Web Radio Show, for his expertise on the topics of trauma and relationships. Work-life balance takes on a whole new meaning when you realize you might have to actually text your boss in an emergency.


1. "Hi, ______. I'm sending you a text because _______ has just happened. I will call as soon as things settle down to give you an update."

When you're texting your boss in an emergency, you're likely not going to have the time to give all of the details. However, you should explain simply the situation at hand so they know you're dealing with something very real. The key is to express the nature of what's going on — whether it be serious, or something that will delay you a bit. Don't cut corners in this part of the conversation.

"Keep it brief, but accurate. Do not downplay or up-play the situation," Klapow tells Elite Daily. "Convey that this is an emergency to you, what you are going to do, where you can be reached, and that you will reach back out as soon as you can." This will allow them to plan accordingly on their end, and also know that you'll talk more when you are available.

2. "I have had a personal emergency. I am OK, but I won't be in today. As soon as things settle, I will call you."

If the emergency is personal, you might not want to share all the details. Maybe something is happening with one of your family members, or with your health. Letting your boss know that you're OK, but also creating those boundaries, is still professional in this texting scenario. Once again, you're reassuring your coworkers and that you will provide updates when you can. But, according to Klapow, this text is enough in terms of communication.

"In then end, if it is an emergency, it is personal," Klapow tells Elite Daily. "And if it is personal, that needs to be conveyed." You need to show your boss in the text that you're not comfortable in bringing your very personal situation into the workplace, but also care enough to keep everyone who needs to know informed.

3. "My _______ was in an accident, and while it's not life threatening, he/she does need to go to the hospital."

Some details you'll want to share, just so that your boss knows the severity of the situation — or the lack of severity, in some cases. You'll want to add at least one line explaining how things are being handled, so your boss knows what else to expect from your absence. Klapow suggests this simply: "Don't hide all the details."

If you have to go to the hospital, or something of the like, be sure to tell your boss. Those details help the people in your office better handle the situation, and also provide you with the right support. There are a lot of advantages to keeping everyone in the loop.

4. "I will be updating ________ and he/she can give you any information you need."

According to Klapow, in every text you send to your boss during an emergency, you'll want to give them some point of contact. This could be a scenario where you tell them you'll call yourself later when things have calmed down, or it could be you assigning a coworker as a person to contact with any new details. Truth is, you might feel a bit more comfortable going with this latter route. If you have a friend at work, you may be more willing and content to keep communication open with them in regards to your emergency.

"Designate a coworker as a point of contact if you prefer not to talk to your boss for updates — but let your boss know that first," Klapow says. This way, you're not the primary source of communication while you're trying to handle a situation, and you know that everybody is staying informed.


5. "My apologies for not making it in. Here's the situation: ________."

In some cases, you might not be able to contact your boss right away, and you'll have to explain later. Starting with an apology and then explaining the situation will keep things professional in a time that's otherwise pretty chaotic. Odds are, your boss and coworkers have been worried if they noticed you're not around in the office. Maybe you had a meeting that morning, or are always early if not on time. It's always better to be late than to never show up at all, and in this case, sending a text like this one is key to keeping up with the communication.

Once again, let your boss know what has happened and how it is going to be handled in the near future. In some cases, you might need extra time off. Depending on your company's policy, you'll want to make your boss aware of this early so that they can prepare, which brings me to my next text point.

6. "It looks like I am going to need to be out for the remainder of the week. I think everything is going to be OK, but I need to get more information. I will update you as soon as I know."

Some situations are unfortunately not over in a single morning. Getting sick, hurting your back, or handling the passing of a relative will take time and you'll want to give yourself the much-needed space from work so that you can focus on your emergency. Most offices have a policy set in place for situations like this, and maybe you've even saved up some sick time for these unfortunate days. According to Klapow, "It is key to know your company's social norms." Educate yourself now on the policies of your office, so that if you ever run into an emergency, you know what kind of safety net you have to fall back into, if there is one.

"Communication varies tremendously depending on the size, type, location, and leadership of an organization," Klapow tells Elite Daily. They might have a phone tree set up, or a preferred method of contact in these situations that are more urgent. Knowing who to notify with the right message is all part of being professional during an emergency.

7. When in doubt, call.

Calling may seem so old school, but if you're unsure of how to text your boss during an emergency, don't doubt the power of a phone call. Klapow tells Elite Daily, "The advantage to calling first is that you can then let them know in your own voice that you will follow up via text. You have established the personal connection and then you can use text to follow up."

Texting can be great for sending those updates as they come, and calling can be better when you need to explain a situation and it's just too much to type. Your boss will also appreciate hearing what's happening straight from you, instead of just on a screen, and might respond quicker to the message. Sometimes, a text isn't the most reliable way to get communication across.

"Either way, it's important to keep them in the loop. This doesn't mean hour by hour updates, but don't leave them hanging," Klapow says. No matter what the emergency may be, it's just the right thing to do to contact your boss. Let them know what is happening, and if you're OK. Your well-being is a priority, and they'll appreciate the fact that you reached out, nonetheless.