What do you do if you miss a meeting?

Have you ever been stood up? You know, like when you have arranged a conference call or a meeting and the other person is MIA. Well, last week this happened twice (don’t worry, I bought a lottery ticket). And it got me thinking about business manners.

In the first instance, I had emailed a United Church minister for her expertise on a pitch I am writing. I don’t know the minister but she seemed like a good person to talk to. She replied that she would be happy to chat and gave me her numbers. At the appointed hour, I phoned the church office. No answer. I tried her cell. Ditto.

In the second instance, I met a business leader at a conference. We agreed we may have some shared interests and should meet for coffee sometime. We set a date; it was in our electronic calendars. The day before, I sent an email to confirm. No response.

A few hours after my missed call with the minister, I received a very apologetic email. A funeral had come up and she had completely forgotten about our call. She proposed we speak the following day. When we finally connected, she apologized again. She was lovely. She sent a follow-up email after our call wishing me “blessings” on my writing. If I was leaning towards formal religion, I’d be hogging the centre of the front pew in her congregation.

And, the business leader? She never got in touch with me to postpone our coffee date, leaving me to wonder,” Are we on?” But, a week later I got an email. Two words. “Let’s reschedule.” No apology for blowing off or forgetting about our meeting. While I try hard not to judge, I wonder if this is the person’s modus operendi. If so, it makes little sense to reschedule.

I remember Sarah Jessica Parker saying many years ago, something along the lines of “I can’t have words with the cashier.” In the sense that one grumpy comment on a bad day could easily go viral, cast her in a bad light as an entitled actor, and diminish her “nice” brand.

While most of us don’t have to worry about anything we say or do going viral, professional manners still count for something, especially in a hyper-connected world. It helps our reputations certainly, but it’s also the right way to treat others.

Have you ever forgotten about a meeting? What happened next?

Photo credit: Unsplash-Siddharth Bhogra

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