How to Handle a No-Show

Being a no-show is the fastest way to land your reputation in the gutter. Follow Modern Manners Guy's 3 quick and dirty tips for handling a rude no-show.

Richie Frieman
3-minute read
The Quick And Dirty

If a colleague or friend no-shows you for a prearranged meeting, here are Modern Mentor's top tips for communicating about it after:

  1. Be stern — let them know that what they did was unacceptable and it cannot happen again
  2. Don't reschedule immediately — find a time that works in your schedule without moving anything around
  3. Don't let it happen again — consider the likelihood that this person bails on you again, and if it seems possible, perhaps move on from the relationship

A loyal Modern Manners Guy reader emailed me recently about a client who pulled a no-show for a scheduled meeting.  My listener skipped dinner with her husband and stayed extra late at the office just to accommodate said client’s “busy schedule.” Yet when the big day came, the client bailed without a call, text, or email. Needless to say, my listener was extremely upset. Well, she used a more colorful word, but we'll go with upset here.

Call it an inability to commit or a lack of maturity, but when you tell someone you’re going to be somewhere, and then don’t show up, you stand to lose tons of respect. Period.  I understand that unexpected things happen, but there is no excuse (with all the technology avilable to us today) for not letting your colleague know that you need to reschedule — this goes for both personal and professional meetings.

If something important and unavoidable does come up, there is no excuse for not letting your colleagues know that you need to reschedule. 

I spoke about a similar issue in the article, What to Do if You’re Stood Up, where I gave 3 tips on how to handle being stood up. However, today, I’m going to discuss 3 tips on how you should react when the immature person who stood you up calls you back…hopefully to grovel:

Tip #1: Be Stern  

Some people assume that being mannerly means you have to keep your mouth shut and smile pretty at all times. Not true! Just because you don’t want to curse or throw things, does not mean you need to be walked all over. Being mannerly allows you to be witty, sharp, and make yourself understood using your brain, not your brawn.

Never be afraid to stand up for yourself and let the no-show know that your time is too valuable to waste.

So when the no-show calls you back with a lame excuse, don’t be afraid to tell them exactly what you're thinking. Just don’t lose your temper. Doing that weakens your argument. If it was a professional engagement,you could try something like “We made these plans 3 weeks ago and confirmed them the day before. I know you have a phone. I would have appreciated some form of contact to let me know you would not be arriving so that I could make alternative plans.”

Tip #2: Don’t Be Quick to Reschedule 

Time heals all wounds, right?  When the no-show calls you back to give an excuse about why they couldn't make it, they will most likely ask to reschedule. At this point, I advise you not to jump to set a new date. Tell them you will check your schedule and get back to them. Then, let it simmer, let it sit. Gather your feelings and really consider it.  

If you do want to try meeting again, check your schedule and offer them a few available slots that would be convenient for you. That puts you in the driver's seat. Do not offer them the option of naming the time and place. Do not offer to shuffle things around for the no-show, just because they are now eager to make up for their rudeness.

Never cancel a meeting you already had set just to accommodate someone who bailed on you once before.

Tip #3: Fool Me Once...

I love the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” The message here is that you should never allow yourself to be taken advantage of by someone who has done it once before. So when you get no-showed, this may be a sign that you need to move on from this person. If someone doesn’t call to let you know they can’t make a meeting, chances are they are going to do it again — and the next time the business at hand may be an even bigger deal. This lack of dependability makes relying on this person very hard.

Being late is one thing, but not even showing up is a whole other ball of wax. Never be afraid to stand up for yourself and let the no-show know that your time is too valuable to waste.

For more tips on how good etiquette can help you get ahead in your professional life, check out Modern Manners Guy's book, Reply All...And Other Ways to Tank Your Career. Available now!