When you cancel a meeting at the last minute, you damage the productivity of so many others. Here's why you need to stop now.
Stop, stop, stop pulling out at the last second! What am I talking about? Stop cancelling meetings at the very last minute!
Too many organizations come to me and complain about the lack of productivity within their company. And cancelling meetings at the last minute or having 'no-shows' is one of the worst things you can do for your organizations productivity.
Here's the problem as I see it. Too many of us accept every single invitation that arrives in our inbox. We don't even bother to look at our schedule to see if there might be a conflict. And a few of us use auto-responders, meaning that we automatically accept everything that comes into our inbox. We don't even look at it. The system automatically tells the organizer that, "Yes, we will be there." And then we're surprised why we're double, triple, or even quadruple booked. Well now you're not just damaging your own productivity, you're damaging the productivity of several or maybe several dozen others.
So I'm pleading with you, be honest with yourself and be honest with others. When you receive your next calendar invite, take a good hard look at it. Will you be able to attend? Will you be able to commit to that date? If you can't or if you're unsure, select tentative. They give us that option for a reason.
And if you're the organizer and you cancel a meeting at the last minute, please don't say something cheeky like, "Well, I guess I gave you an hour back in your day." Wrong! You didn't give anyone an hour back in their day. They've already adjusted their day's schedule. They've adjusted meetings, phone calls, other conversations with clients, all around this meeting. So don't think that you've given anyone a bonus or additional time. No, because chances are we just have to reschedule this meeting into the future and Friday already looked pretty busy, now it's extra busy thanks to your cancellation.
Now I understand once in a while you may have a genuinely good reason for cancelling a meeting last minute. There may be a genuine emergency or crisis that comes up. But I'll tell you this: there are a lot fewer emergencies than you think there are. Too often and too quickly we make things more urgent than they actually are. So be honest with yourself, be honest with your colleagues. Take a good hard look at that invitation before you hit accept or before you hit decline. It's very simple.