Cancelling an Appointment

Cancelling an Appointment
Is cancelling the New Black? Cancelling an appointment is not just inconvenient for you. Your cancelling is affecting others. Keeping that in mind is a step closer to cancelling with style.

Our busy schedules keep our calendars full. We are all busy and we all have full calendars. You, dear reader, are one of many “we's” in this world. You are not the only busy person on the face of this earth. You are also not the only one with a packed calendar. Everyone, I repeat, everyone, is busy. While proper etiquette and timeless style dictates that a busy person is not above common courtesy, we are directing this article to schedules and booking appointments, not the actual business of our day.

If you have a busy schedule, chances are you are going to have to eventually cancel an appointment. Sometimes you have to cancel at the last minute. A cancelled appointment equates with changing another’s schedule. When you cancel an appointment you are affecting the day of those with whom you are cancelling. Your reason may be important (you might have an emergency) it may be valid (conflict) or it may be an oversight (double-booking). It’s possible, however, your need to cancel may be more selfish. You may have a better offer. That is where etiquette and consideration come in.

Your first order of business is to begin your change of plans by calling the person and cancelling by conversing. Yes, I did say call. In this day of email and text, having to make an actual phone call might be a bit of a shock. But your change in schedule is now impinging on someone else’s day. Convenience is no longer about you. You allowed inconvenience to rule you when you decided to cancel the appointment. Now you need to make your decision convenient for the cancelled upon. Proper etiquette insists the least you do is make a phone call and personally take care of this. If it’s possible to talk to this person face to face then all the better. Odds are, however, that a phone call is much more reasonable.

Your phone call should begin with you asking, “Is this a good time to call?” Actually, most phone calls should begin with that little question. Making sure your call is convenient for them let’s them know you care enough about what they are doing that you are willing to call back.

Next you need to explain what your call is regarding. Simply say, “I’m calling about the appointment (or lunch or phone call, etc.) we have scheduled for Wednesday at 3:00.” Letting them know that you are talking about a specific time in both of your’s week allows the listener to realize that you have them in your calendar and it’s a quick recall for them. If there is a specific topic you were supposed to discuss you can mention that too.

Now that you’ve called, made sure it’s a good time to talk and identified what you are calling about, all that’s left is to simply apologize that you need to cancel. Explain what happened (or why you need to cancel) and then reschedule if necessary. Beginning by saying “I’m really sorry, Mary, but I’m going to have to cancel our appointment. You see, I’ve accidentally double-booked that time and the other appointment involved three other clients.” Let’s Mary know that you’d like to see her but rescheduling with her, the one person, is easier than affecting three other people’s lives. Follow this up by apologizing again. “Mary, I realize this is inconvenient and I do apologize. Could we please reschedule for Friday of the same week? I have the same time of 3:00 available. What does your schedule look like?”

Finally, it’s a matter of ironing out the details of when to meet again. And make sure there are no possible conflicts for this future date. Once that’s done you need to thank them for taking the time to talk, for understanding and rescheduling and then reconfirm when your future appointment is. Something like, “Mary, thanks so much for taking my call. I know you are busy and really appreciate your understanding about this cancellation. I’m looking forward to seeing you on Friday, the 22nd at 3:00. I’ll see you here at my office. Thanks again, Mary. Good bye.”

Schedules are full and there’s bound to be a conflict here and there. When you do need to cancel an appointment with another human being, keeping in mind that you are affecting their schedule and being conscious of that will make cancelling easier on them and on you.

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This content was written by Lisa Plancich. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Lisa Plancich for details.