Thursday, 22 November 2012

Keeping Appointments - Is It Really So Difficult?!

A promise is a responsibility.  Now, the word ‘promise’ might sound a bit dramatic when used in conjunction with making an appointment with a doctor or a hairdresser but nevertheless, an appointment should be taken seriously. I have childhood memories of being asked, “Do you promise?” as a means of making doubly sure I understood that what I was agreeing to was important, so it seems to fit.
Time is a very precious commodity.  There is no way to get it back once it’s gone, nor is it possible to make more time – believe me, I’ve tried.  So if you have made an appointment, whether that be to meet a friend or colleague for coffee, or you’ve booked some time with a professional (dentist, beauty therapist, photographer, whatever) you should do everything you can to keep that appointment.

Somebody has agreed to give you some of their time, may even have turned down others in order to give you that time, and they should be treated with the deserved respect. 

I understand that it is not always possible to keep appointments, but I do struggle to come up with an excuse as to why one should ever think it acceptable to simply not turn up, without any contact at all.  Very few people these days do not have a mobile phone of some kind, many have access to email on the move.  If you cannot keep an appointment, have the decency to cancel it properly in advance, please!  The sooner the better, as far as the other party is concerned; it gives them a chance at either filling the slot with another appointment, or at least planning their time so it can be put to good use.

People are busy, and things do genuinely “come up,” or get forgotten, but a little pride and self-respect, and some basic organisation, should enable you to keep the majority of appointments.  Carry a diary with you.  If a traditional paper version is too cumbersome, most mobiles have a calendar app these days.  Put the appointment and a contact number straight in, as soon as you make it.  Even set a reminder.  Immediately, the “I forgot,” or the “I didn’t know how to get hold of you,” excuses are gone.

I am surprised most weeks by the number of people who have appointments with me who just do not turn up.  I even call them beforehand to check that it’s still convenient and very often hear, “Oh yeah, I was meaning to call you – I can’t make it.”  It’s frustrating but at least I know they’re not coming.  The very worst is those that I talk to, confirm they’re coming, and then still don’t show up!  Just so rude!

So if you must cancel an appointment with someone, bear these suggestions in mind:

Be a Grown-Up when you cancel and do it over the phone.

Personal contact means so much these days.  It shows a level of maturity and earns respect.  If at all possible, make the call.  If you really can’t face talking to the person you’re cancelling, send a text, email or even leave a voicemail after office hours, but do it yourself.  You made the appointment, you should be the one to cancel if you need to.  If you really can’t do it yourself though, have someone else do it rather than no-one at all.

Don’t go into huge detail about why you can’t make it – you’ll probably make it worse.
I’ve changed my mind.  Fair enough.  That’s up to you.  As long as you let me know in advance, there are no hard feelings, I’m a big girl.
I clean forgot.  Well, I’ll give you one more chance but that’s it.  As previously mentioned, I know things do happen in people’s lives that take precedence over everything else, but forgetting again is inexcusable.
I’m just too busy.  I don’t need to know how busy you are: we’re all busy these days.  Are you implying that I have nothing better to do than sit around waiting for you because you are SO busy? I do hope not.
My hamster died and then the car broke down and then my handbag was stolen, and and and.  Pick an excuse and stick to it.  Even if it did all happen, you’re taking up more of my time telling me in great detail when in all likelihood, at this stage, a simple apology and a request to reschedule (if that’s what you want) is probably all that’s required.

Please don’t think that I’m an ogre.  I’m simply a working mum trying to keep a lot of plates spinning and manage my time as efficiently as I can.  All I ask is that you show me a bit of common courtesy.  It’s only the same as I would do for you.

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