We’re always entertained by excuses for backing out of a commitment. From the lowly “The dog ate my homework” to the lofty “Corporate policy is restricting travel,” we’ve heard them all. But like comedy, timing is everything. When you absolutely promise to show up, and then decide against it, do you wait to respond, hoping the event will be cancelled? Or your host will forget?
The way we communicate is an indicator of character, and once an impression is made, difficult to change. If you have double-booked yourself, own up and beg off immediately. The harm will be lessened, and your host can hopefully make other plans.
A desire to do everything can cause schedule logjams. But clear, direct communication is your way out. We recently trained a Chief Medical Officer in Vienna who answers emails and texts within minutes. Even if she doesn’t have an immediate answer, she acknowledges receipt of our email and promises to respond as soon as possible. Our generalization is that she can juggle many projects and accomplish them all successfully. Be the reliable and trustworthy colleague others count on.