Have you ever had someone cancel or postpone a meeting with you at least three times in row? If you think it’s bad luck, or you feel indignant because you believe the other person is entirely to blame, you're not alone. And you may not be seeing the full picture.
There is a rule I’ve come to respect: “When something has happened to you at least three times, it is no longer a coincidence, it is a pattern that you are co-creating.”
When someone is consistently late for meetings, cancels, or postpones, don’t ignore it or get angry with the other person. The key to changing this pattern is to look within and become curious about how you may be contributing to the situation.
Here are three proven strategies for coping with people who are not respecting your time:
1. Set clear boundaries.
State your assumptions to clear up any miscommunication. For example; “Cheryl, when you cancel our scheduled phone meetings three times in a row, I feel frustrated at our inability to make progress. I also take it to mean that this collaboration isn’t important to you. If you need to postpone or reschedule a fourth time, I will make the decision that we should not work together on this project going forward.”
2. Get curious.
This way, you shift your focus from blaming the other person to seeing what you can learn.
Ask yourself, “Hmmm, how am I contributing to this?”
A great way to open yourself up to this inquiry is to do a reversal of your current belief. If you have the belief “Cheryl doesn’t respect my time,” try that same sentence on by reversing it. For example “I don’t respect Cheryl’s time.” Ask yourself, “Hmmm, in what ways is this true?” Perhaps you'll notice that in your friendship, you've created a dynamic where neither person expects the other to be on time.
You can also try swapping the other person’s name for yours so that “Cheryl doesn’t respect my time” becomes “I don’t respect my time.” Ask yourself, “Hmmm, in what ways is this true?”
3. Choose ease.
If you’ve been trying to partner with someone on a project and they keep blowing you off, perhaps it’s time you started looking for a different partner. Once you decide to hold healthy boundaries and move on, you start sending a message telling the world that the rules have changed.
Ironically, that strong signal may be just what the other person needs to change their behavior, or they may stay the same and you'll find a better partner instead. Either way, the pattern will shift.
The only way to shift a pattern is to choose differently. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will keep getting what you’ve always got. We are constantly creating our own reality in life and in business. If someone else is not respecting you and your time, there is a piece in you that is contributing to this and not setting appropriate boundaries.
The good news is: the moment you acknowledge this truth, you also create the power to change it. I’m writing this article at a time when I was supposed to have a call with a woman who has now rescheduled three times. I’ve come to the conclusion that we are not meant to collaborate at this time.
That doesn’t mean I’m never going to work with her again — there's a difference between being resentful and setting clear boundaries. I am simply noticing how difficult it has been to make progress and making the decision that it’s not worth it to spend my energy on this right now. Instead of staying angry, I’m choosing to turn it into something positive by using it as inspiration for this article. And I feel better already!
Where is your energy being drained at this moment and how can you take your power back in that situation?