How Not to Reschedule a Meeting

Its 3:05pm. The meeting started at 3:00 pm. Yet, somehow you are the only one on the conference call line. You check your phone. Strange. No text messages received. Nor any calls. You check your email. Nothing. You resolve to wait another 5 minutes. Surely your colleague would not forget about the meeting you both so diligently set up. Correct? Just in case, however, you send an email to your associate letting him/her know that you are on that stated call line.

Five minutes pass and it is now 3:10 pm. Ding! You check your email and have received a new email from your colleague that says the following, “So sorry! I am backed up at work and my meetings are running over today. Could we push to next week?”


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There are so many things that are wrong with what just happened, and it boils me just thinking about it. In fact, the email marketing company New Old Stamp writes that, “Calling it off half an hour before the scheduled meeting is bad manners at the very least.” If you (yes dear reader, talking to you) have done this, then I want you to simply consider the following regarding how not to reschedule a meeting:

  1. Everyone’s time is valuable. Maybe you are a client in this situation and a vendor needs a 20-minute call to update you. Maybe you are a manager and you know from past experience that your employee will patiently wait on that call line to update you on project status, so why rush? Either way, please know that it is impolite to blow off this (or any) meeting. You may think it is ok because they are ‘just a vendor’, or ‘just a low-level employee’ etc. But it is not OK. They are a professional just like everyone else. If you didn’t have time for this meeting than you shouldn’t have agreed to it.
  2. The fallacy of being busy. This is the number one answer when providing excuses for blowing off a meeting or being late. Everyone is busy. I repeat. Everyone is busy. You are not special. Hold your meeting times or you lose your leverage to expect other people to respect yours.
  3. Treat people as you want to be treated. Yes, mother did say this. And as we have realized over the years, she was actually correct about everything. Why would this be any different?

Frankly, I am not innocent in the cancellation faux pas either. Speaking honestly, I have been the offender many times throughout the years. But of course, being the victim is always much more memorable (isn’t it!). Here are a few things I have learned over the years.

How You Should Reschedule a Meeting:

There are ways to prevent the rude, last minute, cancellation from happening. Because we really aren’t ‘meeting canceling dirtbags’ now, are we?

  1. Don’t schedule a meeting unless you find value in it. Never. Do not allow someone to schedule a meeting with you unless they have stated at least 2-3 quantifiable items they want to accomplish with you. If they list these points and you agree to it, then you are in the wrong if you miss that meeting and you have no one else to blame but yourself. And as Stacey Lastoe mentions in her recent article in The Muse, “You know what’s easier than canceling on someone when you can’t make a meeting you agreed to attend? Not saying yes if you aren’t positive you’ll be able to make good on the plan.”
  2. Accomplish more via text/email. Many times, the proposed meeting comes down to a single question for which either party needs an answer. That’s why text messaging was invented. Sometimes there are several questions. That’s why email messaging was invented. Instead of scheduling a meeting your busy schedule may not be able to keep, why not try to accomplish the answer via text or email?

So if you are still looking for your 2019 New Year’s resolution, Whitney Johnson shares on the Harvard Business Review that You Have to Stop Canceling and Rescheduling Things. Really. may just be the way to go. Anyway, best of luck in your productivity in 2019. I will be there with you. On the conference line….