The Eternal Email Meeting
Email and the lack of
have spawned a new category of
appointment: “TEEM” (the eternal email meeting). Since email
allows indefinite last-minute changes and postponements, many people postpone
meetings time after time, often for weeks or months. As can be expected, a
significant amount of these end up not occurring at all. This can be
frustrating all the attendees. Good might have prevented a host of
these TEEMS, and consequent loss of time, strain on relationships, damaged reputations,
and frustration and resentment. It is in keeping with proper that, when an
appointment, meeting, or event is committed to in writing, a best effort be
made to accommodate everyone.
Some individuals do not know how, or find it difficult, to say no to a request to meet. Others may have ambivalence about meeting and resort to postponing an appointment multiple times. Of course, many times having to change is necessary or appropriate. Here are some good basic rules to apply:
- If it is not desired or necessary to have a meeting, session, or conversation (such as solicitation for a service), simply say no and, if warranted, state clearly that the meeting is not desired.
- Also provide a time frame in keeping with the circumstances. Be specific, whether time frame is never, in a week, or longer. If possible, schedule the meeting or event immediately. If this is not possible, specify when the next contact should be and who should initiate it. If these details are left without a resolution or commitment, it is likely confusion or unnecessary actions will result in time being wasted.
- If an appointment needs to be moved, notify the appropriate parties. Good behavior requires a brief apology and explanation. Usually it is not necessary to elaborate upon what specifics are involved.
- Know the difference between postpone and cancel. Many people do not clearly specify if an event or meeting is meant to be postponed or, rather, canceled altogether. Either way, an explanation and regrets should be stated.
when an invitation is sent out or offered, request a reasonably prompt
reply. If the process is automated, reply as quickly as possible. Should a
tentative acceptance be necessary, state when a definitive response will
be provided. When an invitation has been proffered and no reasonable
answer given, it is well within
guidelines to resend the request after a period of at least 24 hours. When initiating a second request, do so in a polite manner, without assumptions or scolding. Rather than feeling ignored, it may very well be the case that you have been the reason for the delay by virtue of a misspelling, wrongly selected email account, or an aggressive spam filter. Regardless, it should never be assumed an invitee has received the request, opened it, or had the time to read it.
- Reminders: the longer the time between an invitation and an event, the easier it is to have any lapses in attending. It is appropriate to make sure that at least one reminder is sent between 24 an 48 hours of the scheduled event. If any of the attendees are traveling, make sure all are aware of this, so as not to cancel or postpone without good reason. If you have sent at least one reminder and not had a confirmation, it is prudent either to call or send another polite message notifying the party or parties that without , the meeting will need to be postponed (not canceled).
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