The eternal email meeting
Email and the lack of Netiquette have spawned a new category of appointment, "TEEM" (the eternal email meeting). Since email allows indefinite last minute changes and postponements, many people push out meetings time after time often for weeks or months. As can be expected, a significant amount of these end up not occurring at all. This can be frustrating to either or both/all of the attendees. Good Netiquette might have prevented a host of these "Teems" and together with them, a loss of time, strain on relationships, damaging reputations and instilling possible frustration and resentment. It is in keeping with proper Netiquette that when an appointment, meeting or event is committed to in writing that a best effort be made to accommodate such.
Some individuals do not know how to or have a difficult time saying no to a request to meet. Others may have ambivalence about meeting and defer to postponing an appointment multiple times. Of course, many times having to change is necessary or appropriate. Here are some good basic Netiquette rules to apply:
1. If it is not desired or necessary to have a meeting, session or conversation (such as solicitation for a service, simply say no and, if warranted, state clearly that the meeting is not desired.
2. Also provide a time frame in keeping with the circumstances. Be specific whether it is never, in a week or longer. If possible, schedule the meeting or event immediately. If this is not possible, specify when the next contact should be and who should initiate it. If these details are left without a resolution or commitment, it is likely confusion or unnecessary actions will result in probable time being wasted.
3. If an appointment needs to be moved, notify the appropriate parties. Good Netiquette behavior requires a brief apology and explanation. Usually it is not necessary to elaborate upon what specifics are involved.
4. Know the difference between postpone and cancel. Many people do not clearly specify if an event or meeting is meant to be postponed or cancelled altogether. This would mean that a rescheduling is not planned. Either way an explanation and regrets should be stated.
5. Confirmations. When an invitation is sent out or offered, request a reasonably prompt reply. If the process is automated, reply as quickly as possible. Should a tentative acceptance be necessary, state when a definitive response will be provided. When an invitation has been proffered and no reasonable answer give, it is well within Netiquette guidelines to resend the request after a period of at least 24 hours. When initiating a second request, do so in a polite manner without assumptions or scolding. Rather than feeling ignored, it may very well be the case that you have been the reason by virtue of a misspelling, wrongly selected email account or an aggressive spam filter. Regardless, it should never be assumed an invitee has received the request, opened it or had the time to read it.
6. Reminders. The longer the time between an invitation and an event, the easier it is to have any lapses in attending. It is appropriate Netiquette to make sure that at least one reminder is sent between 24-48 hours of the scheduled event. If any of the attendees are traveling, make sure all are aware of this so as not to cancel or postpone without good reason. If you have sent at least one reminder and no not have a confirmation, it is prudent either to call or send another polite message notifying the party or parties that without cancellation, the meeting will need to be postponed (not cancelled).
In addition to this blog, I have authored the premiere book on Netiquette, " Netiquette IQ - A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email". You can view my profile, reviews of the book and content excerpts at:
If you would like to listen to experts in all aspects of Netiquette and communication, try my radio show on BlogtalkRadio online newsletter via paper.li.I have established Netiquette discussion groups with Linkedin and Yahooa member of the International Business Etiquette and Protocol Group and Minding Manners among others. I regularly consult for the Gerson Lehrman Group, a worldwide network of subject matter experts and I have been contributing to the blogs Everything Email and emailmonday . My work has appeared in numerous publications and I have presented to groups such as The Breakfast Club of NJ Rider University and PSG of Mercer County, NJ.