You forgot that meeting you scheduled with T.J. Sullivan, and he’s a little pissed about it.
I get it. Life gets busy. You agree to things, and then you get distracted and forget to put it in your smart phone. You screw up, and even though we agreed on Tuesday lunch, you thought we agreed on Thursday.
Or, perhaps, some sort of crisis came up, and you got sidetracked. Time got away from you, and you overslept. Your car wouldn’t start. The bank froze your debit card, and you were stuck on the phone with them for an hour trying to sort it out.
Or, you just plain spaced it.
We were supposed to meet at 11, and I had set aside an hour for you. I sat there, waiting, wondering if you were running five, 10, or 15 minutes late before finally deciding you weren’t going to show. I tried to find something constructive to do during the time I was supposed to be talking to you, but I ended up reading Facebook in that coffee shop. I could have spent my time in much better ways.
Or maybe you canceled our 11 via text message at 10:45, in which case I found some modest way to make that time productive. Not really. I probably went to the bathroom and then wandered somewhere to buy a coffee, anyway.
You’re the one who asked for my time. That pisses me off just a tiny bit more.
People forget appointments. Sometimes things come up, and you have to cancel at the last minute. It happens.
Still, you threw my day off, and I’d like some acknowledgment of that. It’s not an insignificant thing—time is a valuable commodity. We hate waiting in traffic, in line at the grocery store, or on the phone listening to that repetitive announcement. “Your call is very important to us. Please continue to hold, and your call will be handled in the order in which it was received.”
If it is important to you, then you should hire more people to answer the phones! That’s what you think when you’re the one waiting. You don’t feel very important.
That forgotten appointment or short-notice cancelation felt like being on hold for 30 minutes, and then the line going dead. There’s 30 minutes I’ll never get back.
Everyone expects his or her time to be respected. It’s a fundamental manners thing. You don’t waste other people’s time. By the way, same goes for being late. The last time we met—when you walked in 10 minutes late, complaining about the difficulty of parking—that was disrespectful of my time, also.
Just because it was casual, that doesn’t make the time less important. Meeting in a coffee shop for a conversation, or meeting in a courtroom for an arraignment—when you’re talking about someone else’s time, don’t judge its value for them. You don’t get to minimize my time because we were going to be spending the hour in Starbucks.
If you miss the appointment with me—or a sales prospect, or a colleague, or a supervisor, or your therapist, or your mother-in-law, or anyone whose time you requested—keep a few vital things in mind.
If you forgot the meeting, just say so. Call me and acknowledge your error. Don’t text, don’t email. Call me with regret in your voice. And yes, you’re a douchebag.
Apologize. Bad things happen. Children get sick, dogs swallow toys, and laundry rooms get flooded. If you can’t make it because of an emergency, just say so, and apologize for the inconvenience. And, I don’t need the grisly details.
You might get a pass if it’s a truly funny story. It’s probably not that funny, though. Unless you were abducted by aliens, won a car on a game show, or saved a basket of puppies from a burning dumpster, your excuse probably just sucks.
Don’t expect me to give a damn that things have gotten busy for you. “Things got hectic here.” Good for you. Your life is clearly more hectic and important than you can imagine mine might be. Let’s lighten your schedule by never meeting up again.
Ask if it’s possible to reschedule. Ask, and don’t assume I’m willing to make another appointment with you. If you screwed up the original appointment, then it’s your responsibility to come when it’s convenient for me. The mutual convenience, lets-meet-halfway thing is no longer on the table. You come somewhere easy for me.
Arrive early next time. Early, damn it! And, have Starbucks in your hand, or flowers, and a big fat pleasant smile on your face. And pick up the tab.
Don’t miss the damn appointment again. If you do, I’m done.
Do I sound crabby? I was in a really good mood until you blew me off.
Look … people miss appointments. It’s not the world’s biggest deal. It happens to most of us. But, when you do it, the responsibility is on you to make it up to the person whose time you wasted. If you handle it poorly or dismiss it as unimportant, it will erode a person’s trust and interest in you.
Show your respect with authentic remorse and then step up with extra effort to show the individual that you do, in fact, value their time and investment in you.