This is not a post about dating and, though I have been thinking about this topic for quite a long time, I have waited to pursue this post for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, my intent in discussing it is not to embarrass anyone or to point fingers, but rather to highlight – from both parties’ perspective – what it is like to stand/be stood up. So, first thing’s first… this is not about anyone in particular!
Back to the heart of the matter. There are times when things happen, people don’t show up. It’s not much fun for either party. Here are the scenarios and possible ways to handle them:
I was stood up. I’m not (totally) ashamed to tell you, in a networking capacity (I’m not commenting on my personal life!), I’ve been stood up more than once. When it’s happened, on the one hand, I am totally and completely irritated. My time, like yours, is extremely precious and when someone forgets to show up or simply does not arrive for whatever reason, I have been known to take it as a glimmer of disrespect. On the other hand, I always have plenty to work on, so whenever I go to meet with someone, I bring along something to keep me occupied (like my laptop, iPad or a book) while I wait for my contact. When my contact fails to arrive, it is a marvelous opportunity to get some extra stuff done. So – the lesson – bring along something to keep you busy. If your contact arrives on time, you won’t get to work on it at all, but you were at least prepared for any eventuality.
When this happens to you…
- Be understanding. Give the other party the benefit of the doubt – it is highly likely that the misstep was unintentional.
- Reschedule. Unless it is absolutely critical to you that the meeting take place ASAP, suggest to your contact that he/she take the initiative to suggest a new meeting date and time. It’s only fair that they take responsibility for finding a mutually convenient alternative.
- Use the time to your benefit. You were just given the “gift” of time you didn’t know you had! Be prepared to take advantage of it.
I have done the standing up. This one, I am more ashamed of. There have been a few occasions when either there was a miscommunication, a calendar/technology glitch where a meeting “fell off” the schedule or some other snafu that resulted in me not showing up for a scheduled meeting. It has never been my intent to blow off a meeting – I hate when that happens and, since I know how it feels to be the one who was stood up, it makes me feel doubly bad.
Which is why, when it happens to me, I try my best to practice tip #1… be understanding!
If you are the guilty party:
- Apologize! You don’t have to trip over yourself with remorse, but be sure to say you are sorry. Perhaps obvious, but be sure to express your regret and acknowledge that you know how valuable your contact’s time is (well, was).
- Recommend a new time to meet. This one is on you, so take responsibility to arranging a new date to get together.
- Don’t let it happen again. The last thing you want to do is make a habit of this or get a reputation for forgetting meetings.
In all cases, both the standee and stander feel awful. To mitigate these eventualities, it is always a good idea to confirm your plans a day ahead of your meeting. Oh, and, if you aren’t already, be sure to keep a good, reliable calendar that you refer to frequently – another good way to make sure that your appointments are kept! I use Outlook and whenever I schedule a meeting, I send a meeting maker to confirm the meeting. Many calendars accept Outlook’s meeting requests and the other person will need to do one of the following actions: “Accept,” “Decline,” “Propose a new Time,” “Tentative” or just not respond at all. Regardless, you now have an easy way to track and follow-up. If they don’t use a calendar or no response is received, I follow-up with a phone call to confirm our meeting.