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Seven rules for meeting up

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(Meeting up, as in meeting me. You know, like a date, or a coffee – a “catch-up”, or whatever. There’s no good general word for all of those, I think. Meeting up will have to do. Anyway – these are my rules. Make of them what you will.)

1 – Respond. It’s not fixed in the diary until there’s word of confirmation on both sides. An unacknowledged invitation sitting there for a week just says “I’m not sure if something more important might come up”.

2 – Be punctual. Three minutes early is on time. On time is already a bit late. You’d rock up to collect your OBE “on time” would you? Every minute that passes says “you’re just that bit less important to me”.

3 – Communicate. If you’re going to be late, say so as soon as you know. Of course there’s no signal underground, but imagining that yours will be the special tube train that will do Hampstead to Embankment in one minute isn’t really going to work out that well. “I’ll be half an hour late”, then arriving after 20 minutes is better than saying “I’m just up the road, see you in about ten-fifteen”. (Ten-fifteen is a trigger phrase for me, btw. It’s minicab talk. Here, we use real Earth minutes.)

4 – Stick to the plan. Once our meeting’s confirmed, it stays confirmed. You don’t need to check in with me the day before (or on the morning) to “see if we’re still on”. Why would we not still be on? It’s not a crime if you do check – but not to show up, because “we didn’t confirm beforehand, did we?” most certainly is. And if you do just forget, that’s ok. I’ve done that. We all have. It happens. Go to no. 5.

5 – You flake, you make. The onus for coming up with a replacement plan falls on the person who pulled out of the appointment. Should that really need saying?

6 – Three strikes. If for any reason meeting up doesn’t happen three times in a row then everyone can retire gracefully, knowing that it’s not meant to be. I used to grieve over these “never managed to meet-ups, did we?” until I realised I could just let them go. Yeah, but surely if they’re all really good reasons? Nah. The first missed one should intensify the importance of its successor. If it doesn’t, then it’s ok to let it go if it’s just not working out.

7 – Yoda’s Rule. “Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’.” Less said for one-to-one invitations, more for bigger gatherings, “I’ll try and make it” pretty much guarantees that you won’t be on the next invite list. Just so you know.

Do you have any others?

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12 Responses

  1. Beachman says:

    That about sums it up Paul…. I see a book in the offing?

  2. Clare says:

    Just wondering how long is reasonable to wait for someone? A friend with massive time keeping issues has kept me waiting for over an hour before.
    Not so many excuses now we have mobiles but as you said, no connection underground.
    How long would you wait for someone before deciding to move on?
    CS

  3. Toby says:

    Back in the day when I had a little more power over my meetings (because I was usually the customer rather than the vendor), I had two golden rules:

    8 – Fifteen Minutes: If the other party rocks up 15 minutes late without communicating (see Rule 3) then I’m not there any more. This led to some fun dialogue for my receptionist, e.g. “Sorry Toby’s no longer available,” “But I can see him in his office just over there…”

    9 – One Working Day: Anything which cannot be discussed and concluded in one working day is not worth discussing at all. World leaders put an end to wars in a working day, so what makes our big company get-together so important that 28 people have to sit around, most of them in silence, for 8 hours? So, 8 working hours max per meeting. That’s two people for 4 hours, 8 people for 1 hour etc. If you walk in the room and there are 31 other people there, be ready to walk out again in 15 minutes…

  4. Stefan says:

    I am so glad I was on time for our meeting last week. Wasn’t I? (Wasn’t I?)

    Rule 8, or perhaps 3a

    Leave gaps. You can have back to back meetings. You can have consecutive meetings in different places. You can’t do both unless you have invented the teleport, in which case you are probably not rushing between meetings. Acting all surprised that travelling takes time is not endearing

    Rule 9

    The end is the end. If we agreed how much time this would take, that’s how much time there is. The rules apply to the next meeting we each have as well as this one.

  5. Paul says:

    On waiting, I’m pretty much in agreement with Toby. 15 minutes over, with no contact, and that’s cut off. Or else I head somewhere that I want to go to, and send a “follow me”. Obviously I make a little more allowance if I know there’s Underground involved, or if I can see there are any transport delays (it’s all very easy to check out, really). I know this can all sound a bit harsh, but punctuality really can be a zero sum game. What you take for yourself, in inaccuracy or procrastination, you take from me. Often the worst offenders aren’t those who are “really busy people” – but those with not that much to do. Busy people are busy for a reason – often because they manage time well.

  6. […] Seven rules for meeting up – honestlyreal"1 – Respond. It’s not fixed in the diary until there’s word of confirmation on both sides. An unacknowledged invitation sitting there for a week just says “I’m not sure if something more important might come up”." …And other rules of etiquette. (meetings ) […]

  7. William says:

    For many meetings a purpose is essential, ie one or other parties could (and perhaps should) do an agenda. But the best meetings are without agenda and open to serendipity, done without rules; simply using to the normal etiquette of friendship.

  8. Lynda says:

    I’d definitely say that meeting parameters (duration and agenda) need to be agreed beforehand. I have lost count of the times that I’ve had meetings which have resulted in the prospective client coming out with “Oh, and another thing….” and “..and can I just also run this by you…” It can turn a 90 min meeting into double that – which can screw your own schedule if you have another meeting and have made allowance for transit time. Ugh…

    So, um, yeah, my addition would be:

    Rule 10. Keep to the topic and on time.

    Oh, and just another thing… (lol)

    Rule 11. We’re not paid for small-talk. If this is a business meeting, I don’t generally know you in a personal sense so I don’t need to know about your pet poodle Peaches, or your disdain at the light-bite menu because of your IBS. I mean, seriously?!

    Makes me sound a grumpy cow but I’m sick of my schedule being taken up with abortive time.

  9. […] one, but one that will undoubtedly be more useful than the rest, and usable tomorrow! – 7 rules for meeting up. I love these. Now if I could just stick to […]

  10. d says:

    Read rule 2 rinse and repeat

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