Meeting Cancellation Etiquette

You’ve secured the date, the time, and even the place, but now something has come up and you need to reschedule. Modern Manners Guy has 3 tips to make sure you cancel a meeting properly. 

Richie Frieman
4-minute read
Episode #198

I just had to cancel a meeting that has been on the calendar for over a week. I feel awful about it, but the bottom line is, I can’t make it. The reason why is out of my control, but nevertheless, I had to write an embarrassing email to the meeting organizer, apologizing profusely. Maybe I’m taking the situation too seriously? Maybe it’s not a big deal for the person I’m meeting with? But as Modern Manners Guy, it drives me nuts!

Proper Meeting Cancellation Etiquette  

Sure, we’re all human and things come up that are outside of our control, so cancelling meetings is just a part of life. But that doesn’t mean you get off the hook so easily. When you do cancel, you have to make sure the other party knows where you are coming from and that you fall badly for wasting their time. And if you’re lucky, they’ll accept your future request.

So once you realize that you’ve triple-booked yourself for next Thursday, check out my top 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for meeting cancellation etiquette:

Tip #1 – Yes, It IS Your Fault 

Yes, things got in the way. Yes, you double – even triple – booked. And now you find yourself steaming with frustration. But you can’t take that out on the person you are supposed to meet with. Whether it’s a make-or-break meeting with a powerful executive, or just coffee with a new intern on their first day, if you are canceling, you are at fault. When you cancel with someone, you are telling them that something came up that is more important than them. Maybe your reason is serious, like a family emergency, an office emergency, you became ill, etc. but still, something is overriding that person with whom you had plans. Very likely the person you canceled on will surely feel like you are making excuses and just trying to bail. 

So, when you have to cancel, put yourself in their shoes. Even if the person(s) you are meeting with is/are not “that important” to you, you have to see it from their perspective. That person has arranged their entire day around this meeting and now you are canceling. It not only messes up their day, it messes up their other meetings. So, when this happens, you must apologize tremendously. Tell them how sorry you are, and then reschedule right away. Also make sure they understand that you are opening up your schedule to work around theirs because of your mistake. This is not a fun situation, but you have to swallow your pride, accept that you have inconvenienced someone and try to make it right.