How Do You Decline A Meeting Politely?

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Dannielle Blumenthal 5 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #176243

    Great article by David Marcus, President at Paypal, via LinkedIn:

    “When you’re leading a large company, everyone wants a piece of you….Here are a few of the rules I’ve adopted that help me be more effective (and preserve what’s left of my sanity).”


    Marcus offers some great ideas in his article about how to politely insist that your time be used well. They include 1) prioritizing 2) having a script ready for declining time-wasting meetings 3) ending meetings when they’re over and 4) just plain being honest.

    What are some ways that you take control over your own time – it’s personal self-discipline rules, or techniques for dealing with others?

  • #176251

    One tool I like a lot is Doodle. Britt Ehrhardt (the current chair of the Federal Communicators Network) introduced me to it. Save time setting up a meeting in the first place by sending out a link and then everyone can fill in when they’re available. So much faster than the “round robin” of “are you available Monday morning?” etc.

    Especially good when you’re dealing with interagency meetings – not everyone is on the same calendar so you can’t necessarily check others’ schedules first.

    How to set it up:

    1. Go to

    2. Create an account (you can sign in with Google etc.)

    3. Connect calendar (it only shows free/busy on the outside)

    4. Get your URL so that people can visit it, request meeting with you when you’re NOT busy

    5. Or, schedule an event – give it title, add time proposals, and invite people

    Love it! So easy and so fast.

  • #176249

    Steve Ressler

    Ooh – very good question.

    Couple other tips

    -Passive aggressive – just ignore it. People get so many errors sometimes emails just get lost in translation. I’ve seen people simple ignore if it’s small and not relevant.

    -If have to meet, schedule short time slots with back to back. So 30 minutes is really the end stop then

  • #176247

    Kyle O’Brien

    That is a very good question. I used to get caught up in the tedious meetings throughout the week, where half of them were just meetings about future meetings, or there were too many talking heads going at once. Eventually we created shorter meetings by instituting a few policies:

    • Turn it into a round table discussion, where each person is given a maximum of 2 minutes to both share a recent success from the previous week, both professional and personal. And then from there, the organizer goes over the meeting bullet points without fielding questions. If it’s really important, we ask that that person email or talk off-site. We try to minimize wasting everyone else’s time this way.
    • When making a meeting, ask yourself, does each individual requested to join the meeting really need to be there? If some don’t, don’t ask them. Too often you’ll find meetings that have every department representative inside the room, when sometimes the topic has absolutely no bearing with one person’s end.
  • #176245

    <<When making a meeting, ask yourself, does each individual requested to join the meeting really need to be there? If some don’t, don’t ask them.>>

    That’s a good idea. My only suggestion would be to reach out to people who might feel slighted by being “disinvited” and explain that you are having the meeting, you’ve invited someone who can brief them, you don’t want to waste their time, etc.

    People can get insulted really fast whether you mean it or not – there is a human factor at work here.

    BTW on Doodle – it seems to work better interagency than internally when nobody else uses it.

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