How to cancel an appointment without excuses

It is that time again: You’ve said yes to an appointment which you actually don’t really have the time for. Of course, cancelling that appointment won’t be a first for you and on top of that: Others have cancelled appointments and meetings with you so many times before as well. But let’s be honest here, instead of telling the truth, do you consider an excuse more preferable than the truth?

Relax, you’re not the only one. Moreover, research by Psychology Magazine shows that 46% of the Dutch people regularly comes up with an excuse to get out of an appointment. The time has come to show your assertive side and learn how to cancel an appointment without using an excuse!

Take your reputation into account 

Of course it is very tempting and easy to use an excuse to cancel a date or an appointment. But in the long run, doing so is going to work against you.

It is very possible that, in your private life as well as in your work life, it will damage your reputation and on top of that, it is not respectful towards the person you’re canceling the appointment with. Before calling off the date, you first have to decide whether you wish to reschedule it or if you wish to call it off altogether.

Wish to cancel an appointment and reschedule it?

If the appointment you’re about to call off really matters to you and you value its importance, it is best to find a new date to let it still go on. Offer two new dates of which you know they are possible and suitable for you, and let the other person decide which of the two is going to be the definite one.

When you’re about to call off the original appointment, emphasize the real reason why you're cancelling, for instance: ‘’I am too busy and somewhat stressed, I wouldn’t be the best of company for you right now…’’.

Honesty and transparency

So you’re giving the other person the freedom to choose a new date and on top of that you’re being transparent as to why you’re calling off the original appointment. Both of these things shall ensure that you’re being friendly, clear and respectful in handling the situation.

To top this off, it is best to communicate this through either a phone call or face-to-face, but never through an e-mail. Live communication will enable you to tell your message as you mean it to come across, and you can make sure the other person won’t interpret it the wrong way.

Do you regret you’ve said ‘yes’ to an appointment and wish to definitely cancel it? Then you’ve made it a little harder for yourself to get away with it. You might have said ‘yes’ out of decency, but afterwards you can’t stop wondering why on earth you did that - you should have just said ‘no!’.

In cases like this, there’s only one thing you can do: Friendly and kindly admitting that you wish to not meet up with the other person.

Want to start with assertiveness? Or finetune your assertive skills? Our courses will guide you through it.  

Speak plainly

This too takes the courage to preferably call or meet someone face-to-face to convey your message instead of sending a text message or an e-mail. It is important to start the conversation off with telling the truth about you wishing not to meet up, because by doing so there will not be any ambiguity as to the appointment being cancelled altogether or it being moved to another day.

What you could do to ease this process out is to propose someone else who could possibly help the other one out; depending on the subject of meeting or course. You end the conversation with a noncommittal promise to keep in touch. That way you speak plainly, you are being honest, helpful and friendly, even though you cancelled the appointment altogether.

No excuses!

Busy times ahead? It’s best then to check which appointments you might have to cancel or  reschedule in advance. As well as that, it might be time to start saying ‘no’ a bit more regularly in order to prevent an exploding schedule. Our learning journey First step towards being assertive is the one to help you with that!


To give you the best possible experience, this site uses cookies. By clicking 'Allow all cookies', you agree to the placement and use of cookies on your device. For more information, please read our privacy and cookie policy.

Do you have a question?