Are you ever disappointed because someone cancels a time to meet and that leaves you in a lurch? It might be plans to catch up with an old group of friends, a lunch meeting, or a play date with kids. When someone cancels at the last minute it can cause havoc with your schedule for the day and can feel disrespectful. When it happens multiple times, it can really damage relationships.
What if you could communicate more clearly to prevent a misunderstanding? Are you willing to try a conversational technique that may sound counterintuitive? I remember when my kids were young how hard it was to get out during the week for things like a doctor’s appointment or a haircut without them, and the diaper bag, and the stroller all in tow. A kind friend would offer to keep the kids so I could get out. But you know what often happened? She’d cancel at the last minute. And sometimes the call to cancel would come when everything was loaded in the car.
I wish I had known then what I know now about how to test the plans to check to see if something could get in the way. For example, I could have used some humor to ask, “are you writing this in pencil or pen, could anything come up that could get in the way?” Then if the answer is “of course something could come up, but if that happens, I’ll let you know.”
Consider how this applies to your business, professional, or volunteer life. You’re making an appointment with someone. You can say, “I’ll bet you run a tight schedule with your calendar, I do too. By any chance could something come up and bump this meeting?” See what they say. What you want to hear is that the meeting’s important to them and they’ll be there. Using this approach to test commitment and communication doesn’t mean there won’t be canceled plans. However, it can help set the stage for clear communication and clarity on rescheduling if needed.
You may be thinking, I should not have to do all that – people should just follow through! Remember when communicating and closing the book on communication the burden is on us for clarity and confirmation. And is it worth it to avoid confusion and misunderstanding? Those are the questions we all have to answer as we work to be more effective communicators.
Sizemore lives in Hoover, Ala. and is a Consultant, Coach, Trainer and Speaker focused on the subconscious psychology of Human Interaction and Motivation. Her firm specializes in Sales, Management and Leadership Development for Proactive Business Growth.