When you set up an online calendar, you’re asking for cooperation. But what if someone on your team won’t respect your schedule? And, really — I’ve found that less often the offending party is on your team and more often — it will be a friend, family — or a client. But what do you do if someone won’t respect your online Calendar?
The situation can be tough to navigate: You don’t want to worsen tensions on the team, but you also can’t afford to let someone else’s priorities drive your day. You have to protect your time.
Common Calendar Disruptions
The first step is to understand what calendar disrespectfulness looks like. I’ve found that it’s generally a matter of education — and merely letting people know what you expect. With team members, it’s a matter of responding in an appropriate, constructive way. Here’s how to do it:
There are circumstances out of our control that can make us late to meetings. On occasion, it happens to everyone.
The real issue is when someone is late to everything and makes no effort to improve. When others put an appointment on your online calendar, it’s their responsibility to uphold their end of the commitment. If it’s a busy day, they could throw a wrench in other meetings down the road.
Last-Minute Meeting Requests
When you look at your online calendar each morning, you should get a general idea of what your day will look like. While it’s important to be able to adapt to unexpected changes, it’s frustrating when someone requests a last minute meeting with you when you’re already booked up.
There are few things worse than trying to rearrange your busy schedule for an unexpected meeting, but being ghosted is a serious contender. If someone can’t make a meeting, they should at least let you know ahead of time. I always say, “there is no crime in not making it to a meeting — but it IS a crime not to let someone know.”
In every meeting, it’s essential to find a time that works for everyone. “I can fit you in at three. Take it or leave it” is a good way to rub someone the wrong way.
When someone treats you in such a manner, they’re communicating that you’re an inconvenience to them. If your time really matters to them, they’ll make an effort to accommodate your schedule.
Disrespect begets more disrespect. That’s why it’s vital to respond to calendar disruptions not in anger, but with empathy.
Addressing Calendar Disrespect
When you’re dealing with someone who won’t respect your calendar, you have to be constructive. Make sure your response follows these guidelines:
1. Show Respect
Even when someone doesn’t care about your online calendar, you shouldn’t respond in kind. Doing so won’t solve the problem.
Instead, follow the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. So much of business is building relationships with other people. It’s in your best interest to show respect to those around you, even when they do not seem interested in turning the favor.
2. Be Understanding
More often than not, we don’t know what someone else’s personal life is like. They could be facing challenges at home that are affecting their professional conduct.
Be careful about your assumptions — assume whatever puts the other person’s behavior in the best light. If they ghosted a meeting altogether, maybe they had to rush an ill family member to the hospital. Maybe they made a last-minute meeting request because their schedule really is that full, and they contacted you as soon as another appointment fell through.
The best leaders are empathetic. Practicing it fosters goodwill and promotes collaboration, but it also makes you a better manager. If you can put yourself in others’ shoes, you’ll be that much more able to help them take the right step the next time the issue arises.
3. Diagnose the Problem
Empathy should not be an excuse to not solve the problem. Have a heart to heart: Does the other person mean well? If so, work with them. Maybe they didn’t even know it’s an issue. Perhaps simply setting alarms on their phone could help them get to their meetings on time.
If you can’t seem to get to the root of the matter, rope in a third party. A trusted co-worker can provide an outside perspective. If you worry the conversation could get tense, bring them in to help mediate.
To Fix “Disrespect,” Ask How You Can Help?
Once you’ve identified the underlying issue, determine what you can do to prevent it from happening again. Even if the other person was clearly in the wrong, casting blame doesn’t solve the issue.
John Rampton, one of Calendar’s co-founders, considers adaptation a key leadership ability. He likens this to Marvel’s Tony Stark, who plays Iron Man: As Stark fights larger and more difficult opponents, he improves his suit to fend them off.
Think of your behavior that same way: Maybe your online calendar needs to be more visible. Perhaps you can mentor the other person on professional conduct. Could you come to them next time you want to meet, instead of expecting them to show up to your office on time? Maybe you need to help the other person learn to say, “no” if they are getting overloaded.
Most importantly, take a deep breath: Most instances of calendar disrespect can be solved with a simple conversation. However big the issue, a little respect and helpfulness go a long way.