Sunday, January 12, 2014

Late for a Meeting? Control the Damage

Here are three suggestions from Nancy Mulloy-Bonn  that appeared on the ALI CLE blog last year:

  1. Call ahead. If you think you will be      late, get real and call ahead. That is why Steve Jobs gave us iPhones. And      that is why you should routinely add to your e-calendar the address of      your destination, host’s cell phone number, and admins’ contacts. Even if      you can realistically hope to make it by the bell, call ahead as soon as      you start to perspire. Alert the leader of the meeting in a way that she      will get the message before the meeting. If you then show up on time, so      what? You are polite.
  2. Don’t explain. No one really cares      about why you are late. They only care that it was time to start and you      were not there and no one knew when or if you would show. Let them know      that you do know the rules with a fast and short, “So      sorry.” But don’t wreck it by adding reasons. All excuses sound feeble      unless you are bandaged or holding someone’s death certificate.
  3. Slip in, and don’t make      it worse. Don’t      make a big deal when you enter. It’s like going into a church while the      preacher is hitting his stride. Slide in as coolly as you can. Don’t      interrupt with five minutes of finding a spot for your coat, getting      coffee, asking for the handouts, etc. Don’t expect anyone to re-cap the      first ten minutes of the meeting, or to do a complete round of      introductions for you. Have a bunch of business cards ready to pass      around, if appropriate.

Of course, if you are really, really late, you ought to consider skipping it. What would your presence do for you, and for the others? As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Better never than late.” Follow up with a fast and simple email apology to the people you inconvenienced.


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