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Let's (Not) Do Lunch! When Colleagues Blow Off Meetings

Do you work with somebody who suggests having meetings that never happen?

Whether this co-worker proposes a one-on-one meeting or a working lunch, you've learned something: this co-worker seems to be all talk, and no action!

The non-committal, calendar-challenged colleague is impossible to pin down -- even when the meeting was their own idea! A quick lunch should be an easy proposition, but clearly it's not in this case. Let's have a meeting of the minds regarding our no-show co-workers!

Table For One: When A Colleague Stands You Up
You've just been stood up by a colleague again. What is going on here?

Maybe your colleague feels overwhelmed, or is simply trying to make conversation by suggesting meetings that will never happen. Perhaps this colleague feels guilty for totally ghosting you last month, and now feels compelled to keep dangling the idea of re-scheduling it. But they don't seem serious about it. Why can't these colleagues stop making fake invitations happen?

The no-show trend has been showing up on social media for awhile now. It's been dubbed the Aspirational RSVP (some might say Ass-pirational RSVP) and it goes something like this: Your "friend" tells you they are "so going to be there," but they never show up. Alas, the point wasn't to show up; it was to look like they were going to show up. Appearances, after all, are everything on Facebook. It's how they look busy, popular and in-demand in cyberspace without doing the heavy lifting of actually following through in real life.

Now you're dealing with the co-worker who writes "looking forward to our meeting!" online, but is curiously absent when the time comes (and goes) for your scheduled one-on-one. They didn't bother to cancel; they simply blew you off! When you inevitably run into this colleague later, they apologize for blowing you off being "so busy" the other day. Things got crazy! Then they say: "We need to re-schedule! How does next week look for you?"

Hmm, next week is looking mostly cloudy with a 95% chance of strong wind gusts as this colleague blows you off again! In some ways, it would be quite refreshing to say this out loud, wouldn't it? You can almost hear a pin drop as you drop the mic on this colleague's no-show ways.


The co-worker who schedules meetings only to blow them off can annoy, disappoint, and dent your faith in workplace humanity. How can you deal with this colleague more effectively without wasting your time?

How To Deal With No-Show Colleagues
Start working on the assumption that this co-worker is simply making conversation when suggesting a meeting that, given your history of interactions with them, will probably never happen. Saying "We should schedule a meeting" has become the workplace equivalent of saying "We should hang out sometime" to somebody at a party.

If you've been stood up by this colleague in the past (or worse, ghosted on a project!) you already know better than to throw all your chips on the table. (Or to reserve a table, as the case may be.) Here are three quick tips for dealing with colleagues who schedule things only to blow them off when the time comes:

1. Hit the ball back to them. When the no-show colleague suggests scheduling a meeting, you can start hitting the ball right back into their court. Instead of throwing out a few time frames you can simply say, "let me know what day and time works for you." This way, it becomes the no-show colleague's responsibility to follow through on their own suggestion. They'll have to look at their calendar and get back to you...

2. Send a reminder. If a meeting gets on the calendar, drop a note to the no-show colleague beforehand to make sure it's still on. Your time is valuable, even if this colleague doesn't seem to realize it. Sending a reminder is an opportunity for them to cancel on you. This way, you won't waste time waiting for a meeting that is likely to fall through (again).

3. Call them on it. When the no-show colleague keeps proposing a working lunch that never happens, you might get to the heart of the issue by saying with a sly smile: "We're never really going to have that working lunch, are we?" Oh, to be a fly on the break room wall for this exchange! Chances are, this colleague wouldn't be very amused by the comment, in part because they know you're right! However, it might make them think twice next time. Only you can make this call, though.

In some ways, you have to feel sorry for the colleague who always blows off their own meetings, because it's not a good way to influence people, create trust and build confidence in their reliability. When this colleague does follow through by showing up, take the time to thank them for doing so. You're happy it finally worked out! That is, unless you have to cancel this time. Bummer. You can always try to reschedule, though. Good luck with that.


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