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I have a weekly catch-up with two people from my old team (Sarah and Kate) as we all committed to lose weight together, so we meet up to check on each other's progress. It's a casual thing, like meeting briefly for coffee, but without the coffee. Sarah and I didn't think it was necessary, but Kate insisted that we do it. I created a meeting invite, so all three of us get the reminder 15 minutes before we're due to catch up.

Kate has missed the last 4 catch-ups. Each time, she never said anything, didn't mention missing it (her status was set to "away" in our office IM client, so we couldn't even message her to ask if she could still make it). We message her phone, but she doesn't reply until hours later. The first two times, I asked her if the time was OK, whether we needed to move it, or if there's anything I could change to make it easier for her to show up. She said everything was fine. The third and fourth times, I didn't say anything, she never responded, and it's almost like the meeting didn't exist to her. I found out later from Sarah that she booked a doctor's appointment during the same time as our 4th catch-up, but she never messaged me to reschedule.

As I'm no longer on that team, I have to make a trip to a different floor to Kate's desk, and it's frustrating waiting around for her not knowing whether she'll show up or not. During the last catch-up, I messaged Sarah asking if Kate was at her desk, and when she replied, "No", I didn't bother going. What's even more frustrating is that she'll message me and Sarah hours later asking to meet up saying that she's now free. Except we are still at work, and I have long since context-shifted away and am working on other things.

With these catch-ups, Sarah and I have agreed that we're not going to bother meeting up anymore, but I would like to talk to Kate about her behaviour, as I think it's unprofessional (skipping meetings without saying anything), and also really rude. I would like to get her to show up, or at least notify someone if she can't make it.

Edit to add: She also does this with work-related meetings (either showing up late, or not at all), and Sarah says she often has to prompt her, "Hey Kate, aren't you supposed to be in the X meeting?". But since I'm not her boss, nor on her team, I don't know if it's my place to talk to her about that as well.

  • To clarify... the "meetings" aren't work related? – Catija Mar 20 '18 at 21:54
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    Is this behavior that she also exhibited at work (i.e. coming late to work, or work-based meetings)? – Crafter0800 Mar 20 '18 at 21:56
  • @Catija Yes, the meetings are not work related. – Fodder Mar 20 '18 at 22:27
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    @Crafter0800 Yes, she also does this for work-based meetings, either arriving late, or not showing up at all. – Fodder Mar 20 '18 at 22:28
  • Is Kate losing weight? This might be to avoid the embarrasment of having to tell you something she doesn't like herself. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Apr 21 '18 at 8:09
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There are a couple of points from your question that are shaping my answer.

Firstly, you say that you would like to talk to Kate about her behaviour, as you think it's unprofessional. Of course the meetings you are talking about are not part of your "professional" working life, but I appreciate your point - when you organise something in a professional way (ie an electronic calendar appointment) you expect people to respond to it in kind.

Secondly, although the meetings were Kate's idea, you were the one that made the calendar entry.

This leads me to two conclusions:

  1. You are well organised and appreciate organisation;
  2. Kate is highly disorganised but likely believes the opposite.

Sorry if that sounds obvious, but chronic disorganisation is often characterised by an obsession with organisation. Kate insisted on the regular meetings even when you didn't think it was necessary, likely because it makes her feel organised knowing that someone else has made a firm arrangement. Of course, she has to work to live up to the arrangement, and she consistently fails. That she made another appointment that clashed with it suggests that either she doesn't care about her calendar, or maybe doesn't even look at it.

Two possible ways to address this:

The direct approach

Approaching her directly and raising your grievance is the only sure way that you will get to discuss her behaviour, which is what your question says you really want. There may be consequences. She may take offence and it could create an atmosphere at your workplace. Also, because it is not directly a work matter, should the dispute come to the attention of management you don't even have the argument on your side that it was necessary to pull her up for it.

But if you must take this option, you could say:

Kate - is there any point keeping the meeting appointment for our catch-up? Just you haven't attended, and you haven't let us know that you were cancelling, so should I just delete the appointment?

If she says that she still wants to keep the appointment and you are willing to give her one more chance, say:

Okay, but could you please let us know in advance if you won't be attending?

The indirect approach

This may not seem like much of an interpersonal solution, but it does involve communication, and it does send a message. And it is simply this: cancel the appointment. She should get an email or notification telling her that it has been cancelled. She can either respond by talking to you about it, or not.

This is the approach I would take, for these reasons:

  • If you get a response it will likely be the same as if you approached her directly, only she will have some time to think about what she says.
  • She may have suggested the meeting, but you made the appointment. This uses the same method of communication as setting it up in the first place.
  • If she has been genuinely struggling to keep the appointments, perhaps even dealing with a problem that you are unaware of, then she may well breathe a sigh of relief when it is cancelled. This could well be the kindest, and most peaceable option.
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The first thing you need to address is how Kate's behaviour is directly affecting you: she's causing you to spend your personal time waiting for her, or chasing her up to see if she's attending. The fact that she is not turning up is not the primary issue - it's that she's not telling you that she's not showing up.

"Kate, you've not come to a few catch ups now; it's okay if you can't come or if you don't want to anymore but since I've been waiting for you each time expecting you to attend you might imagine it's a bit frustrating for me. In future would you mind giving me a quick message in advance if you're coming or not? Otherwise we may have to assume you can't make it and go ahead in your absence."

You'd be well within your rights to not continue your practice of waiting near Kate's desk so you can go to the meetings together - from the message above you would have warned her that if she's absent at the agreed start time you'll go ahead without her (at least, if she's not warned you or asked you wait for her).


If you have continued concerns about what might be causing Kate to fail to show, even after her initial reassurances that nothing's up, you might consider making more personal enquiries; it might at least give you peace of mind regarding why she's been absent. It's unlikely that she's doing it out of malice; she may in fact have some very good reasons that make it difficult to show up on time, which you may choose to follow up on (or not). It may just be ignorance or absent-mindedness... again you might choose to help her out with reminders or similar, or you might not if this seems a waste of effort.

"Hey Kate, about those times you didn't show up for meetings - I just wanted to check in again if there's anything that's getting in the way of you coming, or even making you not want to come anymore. We do value your joining us and are happy to make some adjustments if it'll make it easier for you to come. If you just forgot a few times that's fine too, maybe I could drop you a text when I'm about to leave?"

If nothing comes from any of this, you've made enough reasonable effort to accommodate her and can assume she's no longer interested in attending. If she causes any fuss about this you can simply say, "We asked you several times to talk to us about why you weren't coming but since we didn't get a response we assumed you just didn't want to come anymore."

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I'm afraid this looks like a hopeless cause as you mentioned she does that for all kinds of meetings. If you want to express your dissatisfaction hoping she will improve, then this may fail but if you want to do it to let her know her behavior is not fine, then you can go with:

Kate, I would really appreciate if you cancelled/informed us about your status for the meetings we planned together. I'm inconvenienced by not knowing if the meeting is still scheduled. Is there some problem with that?

Short and simple.

  • This message reads very passive aggressive, especially the final sentence. Short and simple can be fine but being too blunt or aggressive is likely to simply alienate someone or cause an argument. – Tay W Mar 21 '18 at 11:04
  • "or cause an argument" ... sometimes a decent argument is the best you can do. – Fildor Mar 21 '18 at 14:47
  • My answer states the goal of this particular choice of words. Sometimes it is not about how the other party will feel but about being firm in expressing own feelings. – Nat Mar 22 '18 at 9:52

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