Insider Exclusive: How to Make a Last-Minute Cancellation Without Leaving a Bad Impression

Insider Exclusive: How to Make a Last-Minute Cancellation Without Leaving a Bad Impression

By Ben Walker

At one point or another, you’ll need to reschedule a lunch meeting. But don’t neglect to follow the proper etiquette.

You have a lunch meeting in two hours with a colleague, and now you have to cancel on them at the last minute. What do you do?

I recently ran into this issue with a colleague of mine. I had a lunch meeting set up with her and she had to cancel the day of our meeting. A last-minute work trip came up, and she had to be in a different city half a continent away.

I didn’t think anything of it until she texted me and said she was paying for our rescheduled lunch. That was surprising, so I asked why. She then told me she learned a few years ago at her previous job that that was the custom when you canceled on someone the day of the meeting. How could I say no to a free lunch at one of the best taco joints in Denver? Well, I couldn’t. So I didn’t, and we had a great time catching up and helping each other figure out a few work issues we had.

Calling someone to explain why you can’t meet them on the day of is never easy. There is always the fear of offending that person, potentially costing you their business. My colleague buying me lunch is a great example of how to handle last-minute cancellations.

Keep reading to learn more about the proper business etiquette when it comes to rescheduling with a client, friend, or colleague.

Give the Person a Genuine Reason

Using “I’m busy” as an excuse is a big no-no. Everyone is busy. Telling the other person that will make them feel as if their business doesn’t matter to you. Be open and tell the person why you are unable to make it. If you have been under the weather all week, say that. They will appreciate your honesty and be more understanding. Also, it gives them a sense of relief knowing that they weren’t the reason for rescheduling the meeting.

Reschedule According to Their Calendar

When canceling a meeting, reschedule it according to the other person’s calendar. Use a digital calendar to share your availabilities to ensure that you’ll both be able to make the meeting next time. Bear in mind that you may have to adjust your schedule in order to accommodate them. Remember, you canceled on them. They should have priority over setting up the next appointment according to their schedule.

Apologize and Pay for Their Lunch

Getting canceled on at the last minute is something that you’ve probably experienced at some point in your career. You already know what an inconvenience it poses, so it’s best to be mindful of others. If someone cancels on you, and they didn’t already offer you a free lunch, don’t be afraid to ask for one.

Free lunch does exist. It comes with being polite and mindful of your business partners, friends, and colleagues.

Ben Walker is the CEO for Transcription Outsourcing, LLC, and has made contributions to Entrepreneur magazine, The Associated Press, and Inc.

BusinessCollective is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, and small business owners.

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About the American Bus Association

The American Bus Association (ABA) is the trade organization of the intercity bus industry, with more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour company members in the United States and Canada. Its members operate charter, tour, regular route, airport express, special operations and contract services. Another 2,800 members are travel and tourism organizations and suppliers of bus products and services who work in partnership with the North American motorcoach industry.


Melanie Hinton, Director of Communications & Media Relations, ABA
Office: (202) 218-7220
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