How you should handle being stood up

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I’m typing this on my iPhone after just having been stood up for an appointment … actually just a beer with a colleague.
How does one handle such things? Is it a personal affront? Should I be upset? Hold it against the person? Or overly accomodating? Or just roll with it?
The truth is that most of us are so busy that there are a million reasons to skip or cancel an appointment, and frankly, I am often happy when someone cancels … it gives me unscheduled time and I can often fill it in with things that I have been meaning to do but just haven’t gotten done yet!
There is also another gift in a blatant missed appointment, especially when you want something from the other person. You can’t be too obvious about it, but in a subtle way, they feel they owe you something for having inconvenienced you.
My advise is to mostly roll with it, find ways to be productive during the lost time, or if you can’t do that, try to enjoy the empty time. Observe all the craziness around you, all the busy people, the sights and smells around you. And think about the questions or requests that you could ask of the other person that might have been too awkward or onerous without the “debt” of the missed appointment. Ask it. They stood you up, so without mentioning the affront, ask for what you need.
A lot of people, and many sales people, simply roll with the situation and don’t get anything in return. This accomodating stance seems polite on the surface, but it chips away at your credibility. If you just say “no, no, don’t worry about it”, you are telling them that your time isn’t as valuable as their time. Every relationship embodies a power dynamic, and you can either maintain your power or give it away.
Being stood up is an opportunity. The other person creates a debt in your favor. Don’t rub their nose in it, but use it subtly to your own advantage.
And most important of all, don’t waste any personal frustration on it. They screwed up. Enjoy yourself. And enjoy the fact that it wasn’t you screwing up this time.
And hope they don’t read your blog!
– Alan


3 responses to “How you should handle being stood up

  1. Haha. Great post to read before a weekend

  2. Purposely missing an appointment (without calling to say so) shows disrespect to the person you’re scheduled to meet. It tells me that the person I’m scheduled to meet doesn’t respect me or my time. In my opinion, these sorts of people can’t be trusted. In the age of cell phones, there is no excuse for not calling – unless you’re in the hospital or dying.

    I disconnect from so-called “friends” who flake out on appointments. I don’t want to associate with people who show disrespect to me or my time.

    If you’re a salesperson, a certain percentage of appointments are always flakes. It’s just part of the job. However, if this person is a business colleague, that’s bad. And, you’re right — he owes you. However, I’d probably disconnect from this person for a while (unless he has a damn good reason – emergency, illness, etc).

    Inability to communicate plus inability to keep appointments usually equals untrustworthiness.

    • Michelle – thanks! I don’t totally disagree with your point. I’m suggesting that we can find something of use in every situation, even one like this. I will also say that “the age of cell phones” can cause problems too. If I am late but my cell phone is dead or left behind, the stress is incredible because there is an expectation of instant communication in case of problems. Anyway, thanks for commenting. I’d love to hear others weigh in also!