Rumor had it, when applying to schools, the feedback loop was simple. And weighty. Receive a skinny envelope in the mail: you were rejected. Receive a thick envelope: you were accepted. We found later, nothing was this simple. We learned of gray areas, of dilemmas. And decisions only got more tangle-y. But there was something categorically comforting about the skinny-versus-thick-envelope-notification method. It was clear.
Today our medium is meetings, not classrooms. Decisions get delivered — not by envelope — but by email, phone, and a dozen+ other ways. While there is daily acceptance and rejection at a macro level, what we experience most days is at a micro scale. And it may come via the meeting reschedulers and cancellers.
Here’s how these two work:
First, the rescheduler skirts the issue, “I know you’re terribly busy, so I’m going to reschedule.” As a favor to me? Not necessary. I’ve already organized my day, and this breaks up what could have been a maker day. I believe you mean to say you’re too busy.
Next, the rescheduler postpones by upgrading the meeting. What was supposed to be a 30-minute office meeting is now a lunch. What should have been a lunch is now dinner at Gramercy Tavern. It’s an invitation for meeting make-up sex really.
Finally, the rescheduler sends a triple-long email summing up all the above. This is clear indication you’ve been victimized. Be assured, the longer the email, the worse he or she feels. (Each paragraph represents incremental guilt.) The irony: it’s the inverse of the thick envelope.
When you reschedule or cancel, just own it. Be straightforward. No need to “make it up” or “show me next time.” Just reschedule. Consider delivering a skinny-envelope version, and tell it like it is. Even if you have to use the b-word.