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

Tip #2 – Be Honest

The #1 rule in having manners is don’t lie. Don’t make up a story that will lead you down a path of other “stories” (which always happens). It’s pretty easy to tell when someone is lying, so unless you like being in hot water, don’t do it. I’m hoping that the person I just canceled with knows that I am not lying, but I can’t help but feel that they doubt me. They have no reason to, but I have a guilty conscience. I blame my mother. So when it comes to canceling meetings, don’t lie because you are bound to get caught. 

Generally, if you mess up and double-book or cancel at the last minutr, people may give you a second chance. I say may because I know that if I said always, it will come right back to bite me. See, I’m being honest, not lying. It’s that easy. If you just tell them, “I’m so sorry, I’m stuck in traffic and there is no way I’ll make the meeting. Please understand.” Or, “I’m so sorry but my previous meeting ran long and I won’t be able to meet today.” Don’t go with, “The craziest thing happened! I was getting ready for our 10 o’clock today and there was this burning house on the end of the street. So I did what any super human would do and ran over, grabbed not 1 but 18 people from the house and then put the fire out myself.” Okay, this is way overboard – and I hope no one plans on using this excuse. 

In the end, honesty is the ONLY way to go. Plus if you are doing business with the person, they will take you more seriously if you are upfront.  

Tip #3 – Make Up for it Next Time

By canceling your meeting, you have caused a domino effect for the other person’s day. Plus, now whatever they had worked on the night before to prepare for the meeting, is on hold. Even what you had planned is now on the back burner. And look, not all meetings are major, not all involve a tremendous amount of planning, but either way, your cancellation just mixes things up for everyone.

When you have to cancel a meeting, the first step is the apology, which we discussed in Tip #1. The second step is immediate rescheduling. And the third…,wait, Modern Manners Guy, there’s a third step? Well my friends, there is. 

The third step is to make up for your cancellation by making your next meeting as pleasant as possible for the other person. If you are meeting for coffee, buy them a cup. If you are going to lunch, pick up the bill. If you are supposed to meet at your office, have something like a fresh bottle of water, coffee, or snacks ready. These are little things that will go a long way to make amends.

Do you have a great story about a meeting cancelation fiasco? 

Post all the details in the comment section below. As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Check out my Modern Manners Guy Facebook page, follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT. And of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips.