Making plans with someone symbolizes a commitment and reflects the integrity of your word. Whether it’s someone you just met or a close friend, there are ways to cancel and ways not to cancel. If you’ve been going about canceling on people either by text or by just not showing up because you are “so busy,” you are guilty of poor social etiquette. If you’ve committed yourself to a date, dinner, engagement or get together with someone, and you need to cancel on them, have the courtesy to give them a phone call. And not right at the moment or slightly before your’e supposed to get together. Make sure to do so several hours or a day before the set time. Here are a few examples of poor form via text:
“Tonight’s not going to work for me”
“Hey, I can’t make it tonight”
“I had something come up”
What do all these sentence fragments have in common? Ummmm, he rest of the sentence! Generally you don’t want to cancel on someone you’ve made plans with without:
1. A very good reason (not something better you found to do)
2. A fair explanation of why you’re canceling if appropriate, and most importantly
3. Aaaaaaaand? Now what?
Number three is where I see most of populous America go wrong. Now what are you going to do about the fact that you’re canceling. The burden and guilt lies on you, not them. Who wants to be looking forward to an event, movie, dinner and go get ready for it, mentally be excited and looking forward to it and then get some egregious and nebulous text message that says, “Can’t make it out tonight.” No apology, no explanation, no remorse and most importantly no commitment to reschedule. It’s as though no one ever puts themselves into anyone else’s shoes. Unexpected things magically “come up” and this becomes all important to the flake. Suddenly their life takes precedence and they can’t be bothered for anything else. What many of us fail to realize is that broken expectations can really hurt.
By far the most shocking piece of all this is how many people just leave it at a cancellation without any rectification. Even when they are fully interested in getting together again or want to make it up to that person, people still flake poorly. Here to help you is the appropriate sentence structure when you call your friend or family member to blow them off:
“Hey, I’m really sorry I can’t make it tonight… I’m not feeling well… Can we reschedule? When is good for you?”
“I can’t come to the movies tonight BUT, I am totally free tomorrow anytime and Friday after 6, do any of those times work for you? I’d love to see you.”
“Hey, I just wanted to tell you I had something private but important come up and I can’t make dinner. Can I treat you to dinner next Tuesday? What’s your schedule looking like”
And then make the plan! Do something about the fact that your life has caused you to cancel plans with someone and they are probably not thrilled about it. This is what is known as common courtesy. Not other worldly courtesy. Not “giving all your power away” courtesy or “I don’t chase men and couldn’t handle rejection” courtesy, common courtesy. The kind that we all are capable of possessing.
The frustration of a cancelled plan is always softened by making a new plan.
Mother used to constantly remind me of a golden rule when I was young: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Change of plans etiquette is the perfect place to practice this principle. Try it out and you’ll be amazed how people will respect you more.