If you are in business, you will meet with other people. Those encounters might be sales calls. You might be talking to vendors or going to lunch with old colleagues. You could be attending internal meetings. And no matter when or where or with whom you are meeting, it is tempting to call ahead to make sure they will be there.
Resist this temptation. Never confirm appointments.
When you call, email, or text someone a few hours before you are supposed to meet, you are sending them subtle messages. The first is about your own confidence. "I’m am afraid you’ll blow me off because you think I’m not worth your time."
After all, the other person thinks you are meeting. One possible reason you are checking in is because you are nervous they won’t be there. You know they have value to provide and you’re concerned they will skip out.
If the message isn’t received as you being self-conscious, it might be received as you being self-important. "I don’t have a lot of time," you’re saying to them, "so you had better be there."
This isn’t what you want to relay to another person who you consider a peer or a mentor. And even if you are technically more important, humility is still a virtue. Don’t tell other people your time is more valuable than theirs. If you confirm an appointment, your confirmation might construed as checking to make sure you aren’t wasting time going to an appointment only to get blown off.
A confirmation might also telegraph your feelings about organizational skills: yours or theirs. Maybe you’re saying "I can’t remember, are we meeting today?" or "I bet you’ve forgotten about us getting together." Either way, you’re insulting someone’s professionalism. If you can’t manage your own calendar, you shouldn’t be setting appointments. And if someone can’t manage theirs, you’ll find out when they no show, no call, and have no story.
Plus: confirming appointments opens a new line of communication. Thanks to the advent of modern technology, we can now reach people almost anywhere at any time. A quick reminder text a few hours before you’re supposed to get together presents an easy opportunity to cancel. That’s not to say people must keep every commitment they make. Life happens. But if you need to back out of an appointment, you should have to swallow your pride and apologize first.
Finally, confirming an appointment has one more drawback that is disguised as a benefit. If you nudge someone who has forgotten about your upcoming meeting, that might inspire them to prepare. While it’s good to be ready, it’s not good to have to be reminded to be ready. You want people to treat you the way they treat you without prompting. Otherwise, you’re not meeting the real person.
Make the appointment. Ensure that you have the date, time, and location in your calendar. Schedule it days, weeks, or even months out. And then arrive, prepared to have a great conversation. But also be prepared with something else to do if they don’t show.
More than anything else, professionalism is about accountability. Make a promise and keep that promise. Don’t give people a reason to question whether or not you are reliable; don’t let them think you’re concerned about their reliability either.
Decide to meet. Agree on an agenda. Set the date, the time, and the location. See you there.