if I don’t accept calendar invitations, will people assume I won’t be at meetings?

A reader writes:

Something happened this morning and I’m wondering if you can settle it: Am I a mega jerk for the way I manage meeting requests? If someone does not actively decline a meeting request, is that meeting request assumed to be accepted?

Here’s what happened:
– I had a one-on-one meeting scheduled at 9 am in the office.
– At 8:45 am, when I was already a few minutes away from the office, the organizer cancelled the meeting with no note. I continued into the office anyway as I was so close and arrived right at 9 am.
– When I arrived, I saw the organizer was also in the office, but had his office door shut. I did not stop in to say good morning — I assumed it was an urgent conflict for him to cancel the meeting so last-minute, and so I assumed he was on that urgent call.
– Around 9:30 am, the organizer walked by my office and was surprised to see me. He said he was looking forward to catching up but I hadn’t accepted the meeting request, so he cancelled. There was no conflict, he just assumed I was blowing him off.
– I am now extremely mortified and feel like a jerk.

Some additional context:
– I work from home primarily, but go into the office ~2 days a week, when I need to. Same situation with the organizer.
– We are both very senior staff who manage our own schedules. He’s one level above me but not in a reporting relationship, but he is C-suite so his time is more valuable.
– This was not a time-sensitive or critical meeting.
– Neither of us have difficult or long commutes and also both enjoy being in the office and have no issues coming in when it’s needed.

So I feel like a jerk. But am I? Have I been making a meeting etiquette faux pas for years? If someone does not DECLINE a meeting, I assume they have accepted. I don’t check to make sure someone has accepted a meeting before I dial in or show up. Never in my life have I even checked. Only if they actively decline do I then reschedule. I thought everyone operated the same way — declining if they had a conflict, otherwise it’s assumed accepted. But of course, now I’m mortified because I’ve wasted a C-suite member’s time.

So what’s the etiquette here? In the best of cases, everyone would respond and ideally he could have checked in earlier to see if I was coming, but was he right to cancel the meeting just because I hadn’t explicitly accepted it?

You’re going to find different takes on this, but it really comes down to office culture — and also to what contact, if any, you’d already had about the meeting.

If you had discussed a plan to meet to talk about X on Tuesday morning, then it’s a bit much for him to have assumed the meeting was canceled just because you never accepted the calendar invite. But if you’d never discussed it and he sent you the invite out of the blue and you never acknowledged in any way … I can see him not being sure if the meeting was happening, although it’s odd that he didn’t just contact you to confirm.

At least it’s odd in my world. But there are offices with all sorts of norms around meeting invitations, including ones where you’re expected to accept meeting invitations and not accepting signals you won’t be there. It’s more typical, though, to let the other person know you can’t attend and/or propose a new time, often using whatever system your calendaring software has for that. That’s especially true with one-on-one meetings, where not alerting the other person that you won’t be there would normally be seen as pretty rude.

My guess is that the assumptions you’ve been making about meeting invitations do hold true in your office, at least with most people — because you’ve been functioning like this for years, presumably without any indication that people are baffled by your presence when you arrive for meetings.

That said, the culture around this can differ not only from company to company, but also from team to team. So who knows, maybe he’s perfectly in line with the norms of the people he works most closely with.

I’d just write it off to being one of those things that people handle differently … but also, going forward, know that it’s safer to accept meeting invitations if you plan to attend!

{ 691 comments… read them below }

  1. Thursdaysgeek*

    If you don’t accept a meeting invite, then your calendar still shows that time as available. If you’re in a company where most communication now days is done via electronic meetings, you will look available when you really are not.

    It’s more than just showing the person who sent the invite that you will be there. It’s showing everyone else to not send an invite for the same time.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I agree with this, plus for me, I need that reminder that I HAVE the meeting, otherwise I might just forget altogether.

      That said, if I sent out a meeting invite with ONE other person I would definitely follow up with them before canceling. It’s not like some big group where the meeting will happen regardless of whether you show up or not. It’s dependent on you being there.

      1. Jurassic park ranger*

        Yea I’m with you, it’s weirdly passive aggressive to just cancel based on a lack of “attending” click with no communication.
        I’ve definitely clicked “accept” but realized later it didn’t actually register because my internet was being funky or the meeting got pushed by 30 minutes and I didn’t remember to go back in and accept again. There’s lots of perfectly valid reasons someone might not have clicked it (or thought they clicked it), especially if there’s been communication around the meeting.

        But it is super weird to just cancel it without even checking “oh hey are you available to have this meeting or do we need to reschedule?”

        1. Miss Muffet*

          in the same vein, i can’t stand when someone just declines a 1:1 meeting without asking if it’s needed, we can reschedule, etc.

        2. A Feast of Fools*

          If it was anyone but a senior executive, I’d agree with you that they should follow-up with OP.

          But a C-suite person? Nah. They get to cancel because OP didn’t respond. Whether it’s because they’re passive-aggressive or have a crammed calendar and can’t hold open a spot where they have no idea if the meeting will actually happen.

        3. CSJ.*

          It’s possible his intent was not to send a signal that he was cancelling the meeting. He probably assumed from lack of response that the meeting wasn’t happening and he was simply removing it from his calendar.

          Both parties have made assumptions here. All of which could have been avoided if OP had simply clicked “accept” to the invite in the first place.

        4. The OTHER Other*

          Interesting, my take is completely different, in general my assumption (and that of my company) is you accept a meeting you are attending, the default (not responding) is NOT that you are. It seems to me this whole back and forth of “are you attending? Not sure?” etc is exactly what the scheduling software is intended to avoid. This is for 1-on-1 or small meetings where everyone invited needs to attend or there is no point. For meetings that are going to happen whether I attend or not, my response is less important. I am in an unusual position that I get lots of invites to group meetings but very few of them are mandatory.

          I schedule meetings with clients and they absolutely do NOT happen if they don’t say they are going to attend–the system I use doesn’t even schedule it otherwise. I love the calendar system I use for this, as I hated the ambiguity and time wasting of the many back-and-forth emails and calls.

          I think the biggest factor is you need to follow whatever convention your BOSS has. If your boss thinks the meeting isn’t happening because you never responded, well, that’s the way it is, whether you think he’s being passive aggressive or not.

          I don’t understand why if the LW was going to attend the meeting, they didn’t simply click “accept” to confirm it, without doing that the calendar will show availability. This would have saved everyone time, and I am surprised this never came up before given LW has “never in their life” checked to see if someone has accepted a meeting. In my case, that would mean a lot of missed meetings.

          1. Orange Line Appreciator*

            This is my approach, too! For smaller meetings, I always make sure I hit “accept,” if only to close the loop and make sure it’s added to my calendar. If it’s a regularly scheduled all-hands meeting, I don’t feel like I have to respond. I’ll be there, but it doesn’t feel necessary to make sure the organizers know that.

          2. Lego Leia*

            It’s like RSVPing to a party. Saying you are coming is just an important as saying that you are not. Simply not responding is just that. Not a response. It is open to interpretation in a way that a yes/no answer isn’t.

          3. boop the first*

            Wish I could upvote this!
            This would be a really weird thing to do socially, to invite someone to your home, hear no response and then spend the whole week wondering if you’re unavailable or not. I get that it’s a little different here because you’re stuck at work anyway, but I’m sure there are way better things to do with that time than twiddle thumbs at a ghost meeting…or not.. who knows!

          4. Jaydee*


            – Accept means I am attending.
            – Maybe (an option in our system) confirms that I may or may not be attending. I only use this occasionally, for meetings I don’t actually have to attend and might skip if more pressing things come up or might attend if it seems like there’s a benefit to my being there.
            – Declined means I won’t be attending
            – Not responded means I probably haven’t seen the meeting invite? Odds are it means I *won’t* be there, because if I *will* be there, I accept the invite.

        5. TootsNYC*

          But I would assume that the OP hadn’t seen the invite and wasn’t going to be there.

          And I’d cancel it in order to clear it off my calendar; I don’t need junk meetings cluttering it up, and reminders of places I don’t need to go.

          1. Ellie*

            I would assume they either hadn’t seen the invite, or weren’t sure if they could attend or not (maybe they’re organising childcare or waiting on a more important meeting to be scheduled?). Either way though, if the meeting couldn’t occur without them, I’d send them a chat message to ask if they were attending. I’d never just cancel the meeting based on a non-response.

          2. Tony T*

            Yikes … how difficult is it to reply? Getting dentist appt text confirmations are std … and so is the “Yes” or “No” response.

        6. Splendid Colors*

          I agree. I’ve had technical issues where I thought I accepted an invitation for a 1:1 meeting, but it didn’t go through. The other person has always pinged me to ask if I got the invitation and can still attend.

      2. Lacey*

        Yup. I have coworkers who like to plan meetings months in advance so it’s got to go on the calendar. And then I put a reminder the day before in my phone so I’m not blindsided by it while I’m working.

    2. Happy*

      Not necessarily. Some people will accept the meeting in Outlook but not send the response – so the time shows up booked on their calendar but the meeting organizer doesn’t know they’ve accepted.

      1. Eh*

        This is a different issue from what Thursday geek has mentioned. It will block off your time from others either way.

        1. Happy*

          I’m saying that Thursdaygeek’s problem does not exist for all people who don’t accept invitations; it exists only a for subset of those people.

          1. Pocket Mouse*

            I think you’re conflating accepting a meeting (so it shows up as a busy time on your calendar and the organizer, should they choose to check, sees the acceptance) with sending a response (an email sent to the organizer with your response, whether it’s accepted or rejected). As far as I can tell, this letter is about accepting meetings, not about sending responses.

            1. ecnaseener*

              Well, no, it’s about sending a response — the C suite guy didn’t receive a response therefore wouldn’t know if OP had accepted it on their own private calendar.

              1. Thursdaysgeek*

                When I don’t get a response and it matters, I check the meeting to see who has accepted. Even without an email, I can tell if someone has accepted the meeting. I can also check their calendar to see if my meeting is on it. (Which might not work, depending on their privacy settings.)

                1. ecnaseener*

                  It looks like this has been discussed at length above & below, and for many systems you don’t have access to someone’s response unless they send it to you.

            2. fhqwhgads*

              My understanding is if you click “accept and do not send a response” it’s not just that the organizer doesn’t get an email saying you clicked “accept”, it also does not show as accepted in the meeting itself when they look at it. I thought it was otherwise for years until someone pointed out to me that’s how that worked. So all the times I thought I was saving clutter from other people’s inboxes, I was actually ambiguating the meeting list of attendees.

              1. Loredena Frisealach*

                Interesting! I had always assumed the same, but just tested it and you’re correct! It still makes sense for all-hands meetings where the reduced clutter is worth the ambiguous attendance list – but now I know not to do it for smaller meetings.

                1. Koalafied*

                  I think the language itself is misleading – in meatspace interactions, “accepting an invitation” is an act of communication, either verbally or some form of RSVP. The dictionary definition for “accept” includes “to respond or answer affirmatively to: to accept an invitation.”

                  The options should really be “Accept and send response” and ” Add to calendar and don’t send response” or something more like that.

              2. Koalafied*

                Operated under the exact same misconception for years myself. I thought I was being considerate by not spamming their inbox but still RSVPing so they could see if they looked at the meeting. Nope.

                1. londonedit*

                  Yes, same here. I thought ‘accept and don’t send a response’ meant the person would see you’d accepted, but you didn’t want to send a message with it. Thought I was being considerate but then people started asking me whether I’d accepted the meeting invite and I figured out that ‘don’t send a response’ means ‘the organiser has no idea whether you’ve accepted or not’.

                2. Erin C.*

                  Proof you learn something every day. I assumed this as well.

                  The idea of not accepting/declining a meeting invite is bizarre to me. If nothing else, it’s an acknowledgment that you’ve seen the invite. In my office, there’s a good chance that if someone didn’t reply, they missed the email. Or people often block off their calendars to get work done, so it looks like they’re unavailable, but they’ll say “send me a meeting invite for this afternoon,” so the only way you know they’re busy with your meeting and not something else is if they accept the invite.

              3. Unaccountably*

                Sometimes, in trying to save people from minor inconveniences, you can cause them major ones, as you found out. It takes me about thirty seconds a month to sort my inbox by icon and get rid of old message responses and invitations. It’s a whole lot less convenient when ten people are sitting on a Webex call waiting for the organizer to track down or message the person who has the information all the rest of us need because they didn’t respond to the invitation and none of the rest of us knew they didn’t respond.

          2. A Feast of Fools*

            Yeah, I have a staff person who clicks “Accept – Don’t Send Response” to meeting invites. It blocks the time on her calendar but literally no one who is part of the meeting, especially the meeting organizer, has any idea if she has accepted or not.

            Her calendar is blocked. We can see the time is blocked but don’t know if it’s for the same meeting or not (we don’t share calendar details in my company). And when you click on Tracking in the meeting invite, she is marked as “None” under the “Response” column, not as “Accepted” or “Declined”. Just… nothing.

            1. Caboose*

              Oops, I didn’t realize that’s how that option worked! I figured it was nicer to do that way so I wasn’t sending emails, but I had assumed that the meeting organizer would be able to check somewhere that I had, in fact, accepted the invite. I didn’t realize it worked this way, since I’m junior enough that I’ve never had to organize a meeting like that.
              (For anyone else with staff doing this, maybe let them know! I genuinely thought I was making things more convenient for others, but it turns out I was doing the exact opposite. I suspect others might have the same confusion…)

              1. A Feast of Fools*

                The *only* time I use “Accept – Don’t Send Response” is when it’s an All-Hands or CEO Town Hall meeting. The admin who sent the invite out doesn’t need 36,000 acceptances in their Inbox (tho I assume they’re Outlook savvy enough to have set up a filter that auto-sends them to Trash).

                Also, I had to tell my staff person three times to use “Accept – Send the Response Now” to any meeting invite I send her. And she only started using it after I no-showed our third meeting. (“You didn’t accept, so I saw no reason to be there.”)

                1. Admin 4 life*

                  There’s also a setting for responses in outlook for meetings. I typically uncheck the “request a response” box for those when I’m sending out town hall meetings.

              2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                I used to do the same thing for the same reason, until someone here mentioned it.

                Now that I am one who also sets up meetings, I have the “Accepts” auto-filter into a folder so I don’t have to deal with them unless I need to go look one up, Declines and Tentatives still go into my regular inbox, and I assume that anyone else setting up meetings can be responsible for managing their own received responses in a manner that works for them :)

                1. Rwbymo*

                  Thank you, you beautiful person. I also didn’t know it wasn’t sending a rely and thought others were rude but now have a work around fir outlook clutter.

            2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

              Open the window and go to the tracking tab. You can see who has accepted or not. I prefer to do it this way for larger meetings – I won’t remember which “accepted” notifications blinged through my inbox, but I can go in and see what attendance looks like.

              1. StlBlues*

                If you accept but don’t send a response, the meeting organizer will NOT be able to see if you accepted in Tracking. This is a misconception. You will just show up as “no response” in Outlook. In your example, anyone who is listed as Accepted DID send you a notification email. O

            3. DarkSide*

              That’s not how that works in my organization. It doesn’t send a response as in “This person has accepted” but if the owner of the meeting looks, it does say who has accepted and declined.

      2. Kevin*

        So if I walked up to you and said “let’s meet at 2pm” and you stare blankly at me I’m supposed to understand that as a yes?

        Outlook has “accept” and “decline” for a reason: to communicate that you will or won’t be there and to communicate to others your availability. Nobody should have to guess what your intentions are.

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          That was what I thought too. If you see a meeting invite and intend to go to that meeting, why wouldn’t you hit accept? In my work culture, if you don’t accept or decline a meeting invite it’s because you really don’t know if you can make it or not. Usually big bosses do it with lower level meetings in a “I might stop in, but I need to see what else is going on, this is a low priority for me” kind of way. If someone didn’t accept a one on one meeting I would defiantly take it as a “Maybe yes, maybe no, we will see” which from an supervisor I would accept but from a peer I would find fairly rude.

          1. Happy*

            And you can always send a response of tentative if you don’t know if you will attend, at least in Outlook.

          2. A Feast of Fools*

            Our execs use the “Tentative” response, so we know (A) they saw the invite, and (B) we can start the meeting without them.

          3. Nightengale*

            I don’t hit “Accept” because our Outlook is configured to make the e-mail about the meeting disappear. I would often search later for those e-mails only to find them gone. So I only “Accept” meetings where I am a necessary participant. And only after I forward myself a copy of the invitation e-mail so I can search for it later.

            Unfortunately our Outlook is also configured to put every meeting I am invited to onto my calendar. I get sent an e-mail with 3 different dates for the same training and it shoves them all onto my calendar even though I am only expected to attend once.

            1. A Feast of Fools*

              Our Outlook is configured such that the invite email itself goes into the Trash folder, which isn’t emptied automatically. But, also, I can search my calendar based on meeting organizer name, or keyword anywhere in the invite itself. Anything that was included in the invite email is on the invite itself (because they are one in the same, at least on our system).

            2. Happy*

              I don’t know if you have this option or not, but that is the default setting for my organization, but you can turn it off so that it saves the messages.

              1. The OTHER Other*

                This assumes you can remember when the meeting was scheduled for, or who sent the invite. For those that get a lot of invites, especially from the same people, that can be a real PITA.

                1. FemalePhenotype*

                  Why would you need to remember? I just check the calendar sidebar each morning and see if there are any surprises over the next 7 days. I set my calendar to auto-accept invites, it’s so much more effort to keep track of them.

            3. Mizzle*

              My Outlook is configured the same way. However, I’ve set up an Email Rule (via Options) to create a backup of these e-mails. This is what I did:
              – create a folder called ‘meeting request backup’
              – create a new rule with the following properties:
              – Apply this rule after the message arrives
              – uses the ‘Meeting Request’ or ‘Meeting Cancellation’ form
              – move a copy to the meeting request backup folder

              The messages still disappear from my inbox, but if I want to refer back to them, I know exactly where to look. (I do not check the folder otherwise.)

        2. Nanani*

          First of all, it’s weirdly aggressive to pretend a way of handling software is the same as blankly staring.

          But mostly, there is a split in interpretation in whether people see a meeting invite as a question, “LETS meet at 2pm, y/n” versus a statement, “the meeting will be at 2pm (unless otherwise specified)”
          If you see a calendar invite as the latter, it makes perfect sense to just show up at 2 pm.

          1. Essess*

            If it’s a one-on-one then the meeting can’t continue unless the invitee shows up, which means it’s not a ‘statement’ that the meeting will happen at X time. It’s a question to make sure that the person will be there because if the person doesn’t show then the meeting doesn’t happen.
            It’s pretty egotistical to think that coworkers need to memorize that “If Jane ignores the invite, that means they will be there. If Mark ignores the invite, then they won’t be there. If George ignores the invite, they probably didn’t see it…” There is an accept/decline for a reason so they have a definitive knowledge of whether you have seen the invite AND if you plan to attend. It’s what you do for invitations, electronic AND personal. You don’t just say that people should expect you at a birthday party if you don’t respond to the invitation. You don’t say people should expect you to be there if you don’t respond to a text to invite you to the movies. You aren’t expected to show up in meetings if you don’t say you’ll be there.

        3. Fran Fine*

          I’m with you, Kevin. It’s really not that hard to hit Accept if you intend to attend a meeting. It takes all of what – two seconds? People do what the OP did at my company all the time, and it drives most of us crazy. The obnoxious part is, it’s C-level people who mostly do this, so no one tells them to stop. But it does cause a lot of confusion day of, then people get prepared for meetings that ultimately don’t happen or have to be pushed back, etc.

          This is one of my office pet peeves as you can probably tell, lol.

          1. Storm in a teacup*

            I totally agree with this.
            Personally think it’s really rude not to use accept / tentative functions for meetings, especially when 1-1
            OP I wonder if as you’re so senior people haven’t said anything but I wouldn’t assume that someone hasn’t been inconvenienced before and been annoyed.

        4. ABurg*

          I totally agree with this! When someone doesn’t accept the meeting I am unsure whether they are planning to attend. Why leave it ambiguous, just reply! Also, replying and not sending the response is totally different. If you do this, the organizer can still look at the scheduling assistant tab and see your response.

      3. anonymous73*

        You can see in tracking that they accepted a meeting (if using Outlook) even if they don’t send a response.

        1. Happy*

          But unless they have shared their calendar with you, you won’t know if they accepted your meeting or some other meeting.

          1. Garrett*

            In my version of Outlook, there is a “Tracking” tab that shows people’s responses to your meeting. So you can see whether or not you got an email response.

          2. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Doesn’t tracking show whether an invitee accepted/declined/tentatived an invitation for *that specific meeting*?

            1. Happy*

              Yes, but if they did not send a response, it will say “response: none” regardless of whether they accepted/declined the meeting on their own calendar.

            2. A Feast of Fools*

              If they click “Accept – Do Not Send Response” then it blocks their calendar but neither sends an email nor marks them as “Accepted” within the invite itself (under Tracking).

          3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            That’s not correct. Meeting organizers (at least in Outlook, Google calendar, and every shared calendar service I’ve ever used) can look at the list of attendees to see which have accepted/ declined/ not responded, regardless of whether the attendee clicks “send a response” or “don’t send a response”.

            1. Happy*

              We were talking specifically about people who did not send a response. So you can look up that list but you just see “not responded” (or “none” if you’re using Outlook, which is what I have experience with), so it doesn’t give you any additional detail.

              If the person in question has a shared calendar, then there are work arounds.

              1. TechWorker*

                We’re telling you this is incorrect, at least for some calendars, including the version of outlook I work with. Perhaps because everyone is in the same organisation and calendars are shared by default (without details)? I imagine it doesn’t work like that if you’re meeting with people using non outlook email clients or possibly even just outlook from a different company.

                1. Happy*

                  I was never trying to make any universal statements. My original statement was about “some people” and “Outlook” and the hypothetical has gotten more detailed as the conversation progressed.

                  So if that’s not how it works for your organization, great. That doesn’t make my statement incorrect. I was just saying that Thursdaygeek’s point isn’t true in all cases.

                2. New Here*

                  Since versions appear to matter, I’ll note that we use Outlook 365 and it doesn’t matter whether the person sending ‘accept-do not send response’ is internal or external, the tracker will still say ‘none’ under the response.

        2. MissM*

          In Exchange, I’d have to go to Scheduling Assistant and make assumptions about intended attendance based on calendar availability, versus just review who has accepted or declined based on responses sent. If you don’t send the response, the organizers invitation tracker doesn’t get updated.

        1. noahwynn*

          I think this only happens if the organization is using Office365. If they are using on-premise Exchange is doesn’t. That is probably why we have varying responses to it since Outlook is used as the user frontend for both.

      4. Gaggle*

        We have plenty of people in my office that don’t accept meeting invites in Outlook. They still get the reminder and the time shows up as tentative on their calendar. In most cases, those of us that accept invites will accept without sending a response because no one wants 10 different emails saying 10 people accepted. If there’s a timing issue, we reject the meeting and propose a new time.

      5. Orora*

        If you’re taking the time to add it to your calendar, why not click one more button and send a response to the organizer? No one is so busy that clicking one more button is going to be too much of a burden. By doing that, you’re wasting the other person’s time confirming if you’ll be there.

        I honestly don’t get why people just don’t click Yes or No. It’s right there in your email. You don’t even have to check your calendar because it will tell you if there’s a conflict already. Just click Yes or No and go about your day, then no one assumes anything and no one wastes time.

      6. Quinalla*

        But the organizer will still see they accepted in their calendar if they look, even if they don’t actually send an email response. I often don’t send the email response to not clutter up people’s email, but I always accept, accept tentative or decline all meetings as someone who organizes meetings, this makes my life easier when folks do it so I return the favor. I also accept, etc. so my calendar is accurate for sure.

        But I am with OP that I would not have just canceled a meeting that did not have a response. I would have just reached out with IM or something saying “Hey, you coming to the meeting at 9?” For a bigger meeting, unless no one had responded, yeah I assume some who haven’t will still show. For a 1-on-1 meeting I think it is odd to not respond personally, but I have seen folks who do that.

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      There are some calendar systems where you can choose for meetings to automatically get added to your calendar at the invite stage, even before you accept. I’d bet that’s how LW’s works if she manages to remember that there are meetings without having to RSVP yes.

      1. Flower*

        Yeah, mine shows as tentative if I haven’t accepted or declined, so it’s easy to see and just assume that I’m busy for that time.

        1. Spencer Hastings*

          Yeah, and in Outlook, IIRC, it also shows up in Scheduling Assistant as tentative if you haven’t accepted yet.

          1. Bertha*

            I was going to say this – I was trying to schedule a meeting just today with someone I know NEVER accepts meeting invitations, but he has oodles of tentative meetings on his Outlook calendar.

      2. Kim S*

        Yeah, this first comment confused me because on Google Calendar, if you get sent an invite, it gets added to your calendar by default, regardless of whether you’ve accepted or not

    4. CatLady*

      Agreed – If I didn’t properly accept a meeting I intended to attend then I would spend large chunks of my day dealing with double and triple booked meetings. I still have to do that on occasion but its kept at a minimum because I can say “I keep my Calendar up to date. If a time is tentative, please consider it as available.” Not everyone will make sure you are free when they setup a meeting but I find most people are courteous that way so I work to be courteous back.

      Now, if I deem a meeting to be optional for whatever reason, I often simply won’t respond and my Calendar defaults to tentative. I only actively respond tentative when I want to send a note as to the reason why.

    5. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. I think this is especially important when you are fully or partially remote. You need to give people insight into your schedule. You can also set Teams (for example) to show your location or other status message. I used to have a job rotating offices. I set Skype to recognize all of my work locations. When my computer connected to the wifi, it updated where I was. That was helpful to my coworkers.

      If I am not sure I can attend, I accept as a maybe and reach out to the organizer. Some of my coworkers here like to set up meetings even for informal chats because otherwise they will lose that block of time in their schedule. It’s basically a curtesy on their part to have dedicated time for you. I think now that OP has seen this in action, they will not be likely to let it slide again.

    6. Aquawoman*

      That’s not true for my office–if someone sends me a meeting request, it shows up as tentative in my calendar.

    7. CH*

      If someone doesn’t accept an invitation, I assume they aren’t attending or that at the very least, it’s not on their calendar and they don’t know its happening. To see that their response is “none” to me means the invitation got lost in their inbox, or they’re awaiting other scheduling issues.

    8. RB*

      Nope, not so for me, and we’re on basic Microsoft Outlook. It will block out that time unless you decline or delete it off your calendar.

    9. EmbracesTrees*

      Also, it seems rude to me to not accept and put the responsibility on the other person to then have to put in *more* effort to confirm with you. That just seems to send the message “I’m too busy and my time to valuable to take [literally!] 10 seconds to respond to you, but if you really want to know if I’m going to be there, in addition to setting up the initial invitation, you should contact me again” — in essence saying *my* time is more valuable than yours.

      Given that it is literally just one more “click” to respond, why wouldn’t you give people the respect of certainty that you’ll be there or not? I just see this as pretty rude/arrogant regardless of whether you’re responding to someone from C-suite or a direct report.

      1. Koalafied*

        Ok, but hear me out. It’s not really just one click, because I have to open the invitation first. I really do get a lot of email that I struggle almost every day to keep up with, so I very frequently skip over/procrastinate reading emails if the subject line contains all the information I need, like if the subject is “Discuss cauliflower pickles” and I can see the description is just a vcon link, and in the last meeting I was in, cauliflower pickles came up and it was decided to table that for a dedicated meeting that I was told I’d be getting an invite to. That’s the kind of email I skim past in my inbox and tell myself I’ll come back and take care of that later once I’ve cleared the more urgent emails from my inbox. I know it only saves a few seconds per email but I get about 400 emails a day on average and roughly 100 of them I skip over because I can tell from the subject line and first line preview that it’s not urgent, or I was a cc not a direct recipient, or the entire contents of the email is a meeting link or the word “attached!” when I’m expecting a file and don’t need it yet. And then like once a week I slog through all of those emails in one long burst to clear my inbox.

        As it happens I’m anal about keeping my calendar current so I do make time every afternoon to switch over to the calendar tab and right-click on all my tentative events over the next 3-4 weeks to accept or decline. Invites automatically go on the calendar as tentative when received, and the calendar is so much less cluttered than my inbox that it’s way easier to go through invites from the calendar tab. So the fact that I don’t read all my emails doesn’t impact meeting organizers, but I totally understand how an email like that can slip through the cracks where you deprioritize it because there’s no information in it you don’t already have, and you have 300 more emails waiting that you want to go through first because some of them might have new information, and then it takes you until Friday to find time to zero your inbox.

        1. Juniper*

          I don’t really see how your over-filled email challenge or approach to dealing with it contradicts the one-click ease of responding. You don’t even have to open the invitation to see what it’s about or to respond, so I don’t see how that’s any different from right clicking the event in calendar view to accept or decline — and since you’re sending a response anyway, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing it through email or through calendar.

    10. A commenter!*

      I would expect this where I work, not anyone being rude, just people prioritizing because they’re busy.

      I often have three or more meetings competing for the same slot and need to prioritize or delegate – that’s the norm where I work at a certain level of seniority as it’s a matrixed consulting firm so no one besides you knows all the meetings you’ve been invited to.

      I keep some meetings on my calendar for awareness, without responding as I won’t join; I ask folks that haven’t gotten a response to tell me that they really need me on that call so that I prioritize it; and I reach out to folks who haven’t responded when I really need them on a call. You also get people who get so many meeting invites and emails that they might miss a meeting unless it was flagged as important. Just the nature of the beast. And you build a really good team around you :)

    11. Alice's Rabbit*

      It’s also acknowledging that you’ve seen the meeting invite. If I send an invite to someone and get no response at all, I’m going to assume they aren’t coming.

  2. Ginger*

    Always. Accept.

    Oof this one drives me nuts. It’s like if you don’t accept, you’re tentative or waiting on something better (I kid, sort of) or not paying attention to your calendar.

    If I set up a meeting, I am making plans, preparing, gather updates/courage/slides/whatever. A yes/no seems like basic common courtesy, IMO.

    Add in the traveling to a physical location (covid or not), that seems like an even bigger reason to signal yes or no.

    1. First time listener, long time caller*

      But accept and “send reply” or accept and don’t send reply. If it’s the latter, that doesn’t help with OP’s situation, but the latter is also Very Normal Office Behavior.

      1. Noblepower*

        our calendar invite system (Microsoft) will show you who has responded if you look, do other systems not do this?

            1. Green great dragon*

              If calendars are open, you can see whether they’ve accepted even if you don’t have the response.

              1. Happy*

                That was my workaround for one person I worked with who never sent replies. Widely sharing details on calendars is atypical in my environment, though.

            2. A Feast of Fools*

              Or, in our version of Outlook, if the person accepts but chose “Accept – Do Not Send Response”, it will say “response: none” in the meeting invite.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                I hate that. I used to Accept – Do Not Send Response all the time because I assumed that when the organizer checked for attendee status, it would show the Accepted response, without my acceptance contributing to a flood of emails, all saying basically, So-and-so accepted your meeting invitation. I thought I was being courteous. Then I found out that accepting without a response actually doesn’t provide a record of your acceptance anywhere — ugh!

                1. Risha*

                  But it does, in my company’s version of Outlook and a lot of others. This does explain why there are so many Nones on one of my clients’ meetings, and not on my company’s internal meetings or any of my other clients’ meetings, though. I thought they just had a weird meeting culture.

          1. KayDeeAye*

            Ours does. If I send a notice, I can see who’s accepted even if that person hasn’t sent a reply. But that said, unless it’s a very large meeting (like the full staff or something) or something where a precise count doesn’t matter, the convention here is that you accept and send a reply showing that you’ve accepted.

          2. Please just respond*

            It does – you save the meeting organiser (more often than not an overburdened PA) from a flood of “accepted” emails, but you’ll show as accepted. There’s a track status in the calendar item on Outlook where the organiser can quickly see who has accepted / tentative / declined / ignored, which is much easier than trawling through an inbox for acceptance/decline emails.

            To the OP – I’d find it insufferably rude if you can’t be bothered to accept, and agree with the comments above that it’s a basic common courtesy. Even on a group meeting – the frustration of having a group meeting with a dozen invitees, and most of them haven’t responded, so no idea who will actually show up. Other colleagues spend and potentially waste their time prepping for that meeting.

              1. KayDeeAye*

                Well…”insufferably rude” is too harsh, IMO. If the convention at the OP’s workplace is “If you don’t decline, then you’ve accepted,” then it’s not rude at all. It doesn’t make a ton of sense…but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s rude at this particular workplace.

                It would definitely be considered rude at my workplace of employment, though, and I think that’s the case in many other workplaces. And – sorry, OP – but it’s just so dang silly. I mean, if you’re accepting, why not, you know, accept?

                1. JB*

                  It doesn’t sound like LW knows whether this is the cultural norm for their office at all. They’ve just been operating this way without questioning it.

                  And given they describe themselves as quite high up on the food chain, likely they’ve been annoying plenty of people – who don’t have the power to say so.

                2. Fran Fine*

                  Well…”insufferably rude” is too harsh, IMO.

                  How is how Please just respond would feel being put in this situation too harsh? The exact quote was, “I’d find it,” not, “OP, you absolutely are.” We are all entitled to our feelings, and personally, I too would find this consistent non-response rude as hell.

            1. Salyan*

              +1000 to your first paragraph. I never send a response, because I’m so often the person deleting dozens of responses. 90% of our meetings are all in house, and the system will show me in Tracking if it’s been accepted in their calendar regardless of whether they sent ‘me’ a response. But they’d better accept it, or I’m stuck rescheduling the meeting they (apparently) can’t make it to.

              1. AG*

                You could write a quick rule in Outlook to move all emails with Accepted: into a folder (and even mark them read) ;)

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  That’s what I do when I’m managing event responses: I make an email folder, Event Name, with two sub-folders, Yes and No, and I make a rule where Accepted and Tentative responses go in Yes, and Declined responses go in No. I count the tentative responses in my attendee count for the caterer; I’d rather pad that count upward than downward.

            2. annoyed by others' apathy*

              this ^ ESPECIALLY if it’s a C-Suiter who requested the meeting. I can’t think of a single reason I wouldn’t accept or decline immediately.

          1. workswitholdstuff*

            And without teams Outlook would still you you who had accepted, who had tentatively accepted and who had declined, even if they chose not send a reply beyond clicking the approriate button.

            We have a colleague who doesn’t bother to accept meetings but then turns up. Or doesn’t bother to decline and doesn’t go.

            Either way, you can’t then plan for it. I find it really rude not to respond, personally. Esp, when most of our colleagues do respond to confirm/decline.

            But he’s odd to work with in a number of ways, so its a not a hill I’ll choose to die on with this particular co-worker.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        It might have, though – the C-suite person mentioned having noticed that the OP hadn’t accepted. If by that he meant that he had looked at the Attendee Status within Outlook, if OP had accepted w/out reply it would have shown up as Accepted.

        I think the answer is always accept the meeting notice if you plan to be there. Not accepting a meeting notice sends no useful information to the host.

      3. Yorick*

        It still shows you as accepted if they check for the meeting details. OP is just not responding to the meeting invitation in any way, which IMO is bizarre.

        Sure, I would follow up with a coworker to see if they could make the meeting, but I would also be super annoyed that they hadn’t bothered to respond to my meeting invitation. If he sent you an email asking to meet at that time, would you just not reply? If he verbally asked you in-person to meet at that time, would you just walk off without saying a word? And would you expect him to know that you were gonna come to the meeting??

        1. TheSüperflüoüsUmlaüt*

          Yep, this. If you do intend to go to the meeting, why on earth wouldn’t you accept?

    2. High Score!*

      Exactly. It only takes a second to accept or decline. People who refused to acknowledge a meeting are just rude.

    3. Lab Boss*

      Agreed- if someone doesn’t accept, to me they’re tentative. In a group meeting I’d assume they might be there, but would only proceed with the meeting if it would be OK if they totally no-showed. OP’s policy of “no answer means I’ll be there” creates a risk of both unnecessary cancellations (like this case), or meetings OP never answered because they INTENDED to go, but then it wasn’t on their calendar, something else came up, and OP ends up not showing- and everyone’s time is wasted.

      To support OP though, the coworker’s actions seem a little weird. If it was a one-on-one I would check in at some point to confirm attendance, not just assume I was getting blown off by someone I have a good working relationship with.

      1. OhNoYouDidn't*

        I would probably check in, too. But it’s possible that the host was very busy and never got the the point of checking in, at the last minute realized OP didn’t respond, so assumed OP’s not coming. I am with others that it’s very presumptuous for the OP to expect others to know his intentions without responding in any way. And to assume that his co-workers (equal, below, or above) should chase him down for a response before canceling is another level of arrogance. People are busy. This person set aside time to see with OP personally, and took time to come into the office for this meeting. Why should they have to chase down, or follow up with OP? All OP has to do is click a button. OP was rude. I have a feeling the host canceled without checking in ON PURPOSE. If OP can’t be bothered to click a button, why should host be bothered to track OP down?

    4. Hills to Die on*

      I hate having to track people down and see if they are attending or not. Just accept the invitation so it doesn’t make more work for others. :/

      1. Anonym*

        Seriously. Please just let the organizer know if you’ll be there or not. In what universe is it acceptable to just leave people hanging? Maybe if you’re so very in charge that an invitation from you is assumed to be an order? IDK.

        If I don’t hear back from people, I’ll assume they missed the invite and have to check in. It’s an unnecessary PITA.

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          It can also really impact planning. Maybe they are getting donuts for the meeting or lunches for everyone! Maybe they need to make print offs! It can really create problems for the admins that are trying to get the meeting together but don’t always have the leverage to force you to say yes or no.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Yeah, Alison mentioned that it was a little strange that the organizer didn’t double check, but that’s an unnecessary extra step that’s only created by OP not accepting in the fist place. It’s really not cool to create this extra work for your coworker when all you have to do is open an email and click yes.

        1. Fran Fine*


          I’m not hunting anybody down. Either you respond or you don’t. If you don’t, I’m going to assume you’re not available and I’m canceling the meeting. That’s a half hour of my time I could get back to do something else.

          1. OfficeToastCrunch*

            I’m also in the I’m-not-chasing-you camp. I used to be, but I found it’s a waste of my time AND it made people assume that I should be the one to organize alllll the meetings because after all, I was so *good* at engaging people.

      3. Anti anti-tattoo Carol*

        Yes, please. This. I am not a mind-reader. I do use tracking to see who will and won’t be there, but when someone leaves me on read, it makes it really hard to do my job. How can I plan if I don’t know? And when office culture varies by person, how does the office newbie know who to chase down and who they can trust to be there?

        There’s someone in my org who doesn’t respond for a variety of reasons and it’s hard to guess why. Some days it’s because she’s too busy to read through her emails. Others, it’s because the meeting is at an inconvenient time for her (even with an open calendar), but isn’t sure if she’ll decline. It’s really frustrating! Accepting a meeting invite is a form of communication. Please, explicitly communicate with me, a person who doesn’t always understand implicit messaging.

    5. NPO Queen*

      Please accept. I’m a scheduler for C-suite and if you don’t respond, the spot looks free and it makes things much more complicated for those running the schedule. We do that even for one-on-one meetings, it’s just helpful to know how calendars are shaking out. But Alison is right, if your office culture doesn’t do that, then you don’t have to, but I would respond like your coworker and think the meeting is off.

    6. Starbuck*

      My office uses Google calendar, which I gather works similarly to Outlook though I’ve never used that so I don’t know for sure.

      If you accept or decline a meeting invite, everyone knows what that means (in my office we do anyway). If you do neither? It’s a guessing game. You can assume what you want about what that means, but where I work there’s no set convention on what ignoring a meeting invite means other than assuming the person didn’t see it. I err on the side of “they probably didn’t see it, so I don’t expect them to show up.”

    7. Aquawoman*

      Sometimes I don’t answer calendar invitations because I’m busy doing my job. Sometimes I don’t answer invitations because not answering and answering tentative are the same thing.

      1. Paris Geller*

        This response seems kind of snarky. If your job involves attending meetings, then managing those meetings and letting the organizer know if you’ll be attending or not is also part of your job.

          1. Jn*

            The etiquette is…. You accept, decline or schedule another time using the software that sent you the meeting invitation. It’s really that simple.

            You are senior? I’m surprised you’ve got this far without encountering this before. Especially as you work remotely.

            It’s also a courtesy to show your colleagues you acknowledge their request and respect their time. There is nothing more frustrating than having to constantly follow-up with someone. Seems your colleague assumes you were ignoring their request and/or had tech issues and cancelled a few minutes before start. This is reasonable so that person can get on with their day with other meetings and projects.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          And responding to a calendar invite takes seconds to do. If someone can’t fit that in, I’d wonder how they were going to handle juggling more challenging job responsibilities. (I know what my boss’s response would be – “CEO can find the time to respond to calendar invites, I’m sure you can as well.”)

            1. Exec Assistant Begs You to Accept*

              Which may be why the OP’s more senior colleague cancelled the meeting when there was no reply. I manage a C-Suite calendar and every meeting better have an accept and if it doesn’t then I will follow-up. If it happens overnight and the meeting shows unaccepted/undeclined, then he will ask me if it’s happening first thing in the morning.

              As an executive assistant, I can promise you that yes/no/maybe responses are all gratefully received. Better to know sooner than later if a reschedule is required and if you end up wasting my boss’ time by not showing up to something you’ve accepted, I am also subject to his ire.

              For large-scale events, I temporarily set up a filter folder so I don’t get 500 responses and I review the invite list after the fact. EAs tend to be pretty savvy with their email clients (not all, I know, but still).

        2. TechWorker*

          Cmon, execs have someone else manage their calendar for a reason. Can you not see that there might be a mid level of seniority where you are not considered senior enough to have someone else do calendar management but still don’t have enough time to click accept on every meeting request? It’s just not the culture in some places (where I work included). For meetings where you’re in the ‘required’ list, assumption is default attendance unless you decline. For meetings where large groups of people are sent the invite (often somewhat optional), attendance is considered ‘tentative’ by default but it doesn’t necessarily matter because the meeting is happening anyway. I arrange some of those invites and get annoyed if I forget to tick ‘don’t request responses’ cos I don’t want or need 70 odd emails telling me people are attending.

          1. J*

            Well yeah, but it’s likely that a whole load of those meeting invites are coming from people with the same level of seniority, and not taking the *literally two seconds* to click on accept or decline makes more work for them – and, potentially, you, if they follow up with an email asking you to confirm whether or not you’re coming to the meeting. Yeah, office cultures differ and I’m sure there are places where a lack of response is understood in the same way by everyone, but if I were repeatedly having to follow up with colleagues because they couldn’t take the time to accept or decline an invitation, I would get very strong vibes of My Time Is More Important Than Yours from them. I’ll take that from people senior to me, but from peers or juniors, I’d find it deeply irritating and, frankly, disrespectful.

          2. Keyboard Jockey*

            I’m mid-senior level, and I go through periods where I’m regularly in 30 hours of meetings a week (many half-hour long, ye gods). It takes 5 minutes to look at my calendar for the week and say “yes” or “no.” Sometimes if I need to reschedule a tricky meeting, it might take 20 minutes.

      2. Yorick*

        Well, not exactly. Answering “tentative” says you may or may not be able to be there, but does confirm that you know about the meeting. It’s the same as verbally answering “I’m not sure whether I’m available, I’ll be there if I can” when someone verbally asks you to come to a meeting on Tuesday at 10. Not answering is the same as just not responding to the verbal invitation.

        1. EH*

          This. No response could mean the invite never arrived or was lost in the shuffle of the person’s inbox. I tend to assume no response to email means it wasn’t read, I would definitely assume no response to a meeting means they didn’t see the invite. Otherwise what’s to stop someone from setting a meeting for 30 min from now and then being mad I don’t show up because I didn’t see the invite?

      3. Hills to Die on*

        Kinda bratty response. Like other people aren’t doing their jobs so they have time to maintain their calendars?
        When people do this in my company, they get cut out of the loop pretty fast. I see your point downthread that people aren’t always clear about the agenda, and I think it’s fair to not want to chase down what they want. When folks don’t answer invitations here, we just say, ‘we included them, they didn’t acknowledge a thing, we proceeded without them’. We are all moving too fast to chase down one person who can’t be bothered to even check in. That would blow back on the non-answerer when they were impacted by not knowing what was going on. Nobody would be jumping through hoops to collaborate with someone like that. It would definitely hurt you professionally – anyplace I have worked.

        1. Fran Fine*

          This is how we operate at my company. If we get no response, we assume the person isn’t attending the meeting, and we carry on (if it’s a group meeting) without them. They’ll need to follow-up with someone else later to figure out what deliverables we need from them. If it’s a one-to-one meeting, it gets cancelled and, again, the meeting organizer carries on with whatever needs to get done and the other party will need to follow-up later for information on their own.

      4. WellRed*

        Ah yes, the Busier than Thou Coworker. They’d rather spend more time telling you how busy they are than just doing the thing.

        1. Curious*

          As does declining … “No” is indeed a complete sentence, and is more respectful than “I’m too busy to even decline.”

      5. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Not answering and answering tentative are definitely not the same thing. Not answering is a complete mystery about your intentions; tentative expresses a desire to attend while also conveying there may be something else that trumps your ability to attend. Neither are 100% yeses, but one is far closer to yes than the other.

      6. Archaeopteryx*

        Responding tentative is not the same thing as ignoring the message. Only one of those choices leaves open the possibility that you completely missed the invite.

    8. tamarack and fireweed*

      Yeah, but this is not “mortified” territory, this is “oops, I’m sorry I wasn’t thoughtful about this, so caused a miscommunication” territory.

      If I’m dealing with peers or one step up-down the seniority ladder and one-on-one meetings, and sent a meeting request that should work for the co-worker, and they don’t accept or decline, I chase them up by email / using the messaging facility built into the calendar part of our software (we use an enterprise Google, but Outlook is similar). “Is our meeting on? If not, please decline and let’s reschedule” – a one-liner. This is particularly necessary if it’s a small group. I would assume it’s a failure to accept. It’s happened to me that I thought I accepted and somehow my click didn’t land, and my calendar doesn’t show the meeting as accepted.

      If it’s a big-group meeting, I assume that the neither-accept-nor-decline person may be there or not. If I need them there I would presume there was some communication about that already (just sending an invite to a large group isn’t enough to underline that particular people’s presence is really required).

      The LW’s coworker may have been mildly irritated about the ambiguous booking, and thought “I have other urgent stuff to do, so I can’t be arsed to chase up LW right now”. But not accepting a meeting is also not the equivalent of declining it.

    9. A Poster Has No Name*

      I agree. If I don’t see an accept or a decline, I don’t know whether you’ve even seen the meeting notice. I work with very busy people for whom this happens, so if we don’t get a response we ping them to see if they’ve seen it, and then can discuss if a reschedule is needed (which is what the LW’s coworker should have done, IMO), but don’t make people do that if you can avoid it. Accept, decline, propose new time, all of these are polite. Not responding at all is kind of a jerk move.

      Now, I will specifically say not to send a response if I’m accepting a company town hall or something where nobody will really care if I’m there or not, but that’s mostly to spare the inbox of whoever sent the invite.

      1. Krabby*

        Yes to all of this. As someone whose day is split 50/50 between intense concentration in spreadsheets and running to a bunch of different meetings, sometimes you just don’t see it because you’re not in your inbox. However, if you do see it, the polite thing to do is to accept (and send a response or not based on the context).

    10. qvaken*

      I agree. I think it’s less about what people should assume about a meeting invitation that hasn’t been accepted – that is, they should assume that the person will be there, or they should assume they’re not coming – and more that it creates confusion.

      Will they come? Won’t they come? What should I do? Do I cancel? But if I do, they might turn up and I won’t be there. Do I turn up as planned? But if I do, I might sit waiting in a meeting by myself when they never planned to show up.

      This confusion can be avoided by just clicking “accept” or “decline”.

    11. The Other Dawn*

      I agree with you, Ginger. Just click Accept. Not responding, at least in Outlook, leaves it as Tentative, which means the person may or may not attend. If a bunch of people do that in a group meeting, or the only other attendee in a one-on-one meeting do that, I have no idea how much material to prepare, if key people will be there to make the meeting worthwhile, etc.

  3. Susie Q*

    In my office, if you don’t accept the meeting invite, it’ll be assumed you aren’t attending the meeting. It’s a common politeness akin to an RSVP.

    1. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Agreed. You have to answer Yes or No (or Maybe)

      If I set up a meeting and one of the invitees doesn’t respond, I assume they didn’t get the message and won’t be there because they don’t know about it.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Same every place I’ve ever worked. If a critical person does not affirmatively accept, that is assumed to be a decline and the meeting will be rescheduled.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Yes. I think the opposite of OP. If I don’t get a response, it’s no. In my office, it’s assumed that no response means you missed the message and someone will have to track you down.

    4. Chris*

      Completely agree. If it isn’t accepted, I will assume it’s a no, tentative, or the person actually hasn’t even seen the meeting invite. For a variety of reasons, I might reach out and say “Can you please confirm your attendance?” but I would absolutely do what the colleague did and cancel the time. Honestly, I’d be a little annoyed that I’d held the time, perhaps prepared for a meeting, and the person didn’t even take the 3 seconds it takes to accept.

    5. sacados*

      See, I feel like at my office it’s kind of the opposite. It’s assumed you’ll be attending the meeting as long as you haven’t actively declined it.
      In Gcal, which we use, when you’re wrangling multiple peoples’ schedules and setting meetings, an event that the person has not yet responded yes or no to will still show up as a box on the calendar, so you can see that the meeting is there

      1. fhqwhgads*

        The more I think about it, the more I think my office is probably as your first paragraph. However, I think it may be sort of different because OP is higher up. Where I work, there are three sorts of meetings: if you got the invite you’re expected to show up and the invite isn’t asking you, it’s telling you when it is. So unless you have a conflict – in which case you’d decline – it’s assumed no response = attending because you’ve basically been told to attend. The second kind is: this was sent to you as an FYI but it’s optional so go or don’t and no one cares about any one individual. The third kind is peer-to-peer group of no more than 4, in which case everyone is definitely expected to respond because it’s more of a “hey when can we all chat” kinda thing. But those, people do tend to respond one way or the other. So I think where I come down is: OP’s pattern is odd not because there is One True Meaning to No Reply, but because this was a 1-1 and when it’s 1-1 (or very small groups) it doesn’t make sense to not actively say yes or no.

    6. Canadian Valkyrie*

      I disagree (respectfully!) that it’s about politeness. I think that in *some* offices it might be viewed that way, and obviously if the person hasn’t otherwise indicated to you that they’ll be there, I think confirmation *of some kind* (not necessarily on the meeting invite) can be nice.

      The reason I feel this way is because I see clients in my work; they pay me for my time. Whether they accept my meeting request or not isn’t my problem; they can handle their schedule however the hell they want. It doesn’t matter because at a different date/time they’d have agreed to this meeting and get reminders sent out by my scheduling system etc. so if they don’t show up, I charge them. Hence my stance of “as long as you acknowledged it at some point either verbally, via email, or by accepting the meeting” then I frankly don’t care; you agreed, if you don’t show up AND you didn’t (a) tell me 24 hours before or (b) have some kind of emergency – such as getting into a car accident on the way in, sick child, etc. then you’ll pay me. This is standard practice for my field. Some people in my field might thing it’s just polite to accept any how, but it’s not standard in my field

      1. ele4phant*

        Maybe it’s me, but yes, because clients pay you they can to this to you. But you can’t get away with it in reverse, if they send *you* a calendar invite you should respond. And you should not do it internally, especially to someone higher on the totem pole than you. A meeting invite is a request for a response, so respond.

        Also – sounds like the LW didn’t respond in any way – to the invite NOR did they make a verbal or email confirmation. So, the C-level exec is still supposed to get they plan to attend when they’ve literally said nothing?

        1. Been There*

          Agreed. I had a meeting with an external vendor this week. They were pitching us their product for the first time, but I never got a response to my meeting request. This starts the relationship off on a bad note.

      2. Canadian Valkyrie*

        Oh for sure. I meant just more in the sense that them not responding to the invite it wasn’t like I sent them the link with no notice. If a client sent me a request, I wouldn’t just respond; if likely email and be like “what’s this about?”, which, again, would result in either a yes or no with the conversation so they’d still have some sense of if I was going to show or not. My point isn’t the dynamics (eg client vs exec) and more about that AS LONG AS both parties know a meeting has been agreed on, then accepting the actual request is a bit superfluous and optional depending on company culture and stuff.

        1. Ele4phant*

          I’d still accept, even if it was discussed verbally or via email.

          If someone didn’t respond after I sent a calendar invite, it’d leave me wondering “Did you forget about our conversation? Do I need to remind you?”

          I live and die by my calendar so ensuring it is up to date and accurate is very important to my organization’s workflow. I’m currently in the middle, so I want both people below me to have a clear view of when I’m available to them as well as making it easier for leads to know when I am or am not interacting with clients.

          To me, it’s just such a simple thing to click yes or no, I just don’t get why people don’t.

  4. LizABit*

    The value I find in accepting invites is that others who are trying to schedule a meeting can see I’m not available at that time. It doesn’t always prevent double-bookings, but it helps.

  5. anon4eva*

    If the organizer double-clicks the invite, he can see if it was accepted or not. At least for Outlook email/calendar.

    I wholeheartedly agree with AAM, it kind of depends on the company culture. My rule of thumb, unless someone specifically declines the invite, is I move forward like they have accepted it if there is no response.

    1. Starbuck*

      So interesting! In my office, the assumption leans more towards “they probably didn’t see it, so we won’t assume they’re showing up unless it’s been communicated about in another medium to confirm.”

      1. KayDeeAye*

        Yep, that’s the case in my office, too. Around here, if you’re coming, you accept. If you’re not coming, you decline. If you aren’t sure, you accept tentatively – or suggest a different time or whatever. If you don’t replay at all, nobody has any idea what in the heck you’re doing. How could they?

        1. Cj*

          It’s bizarre to me that people don’t either accept or decline (although I understand the confusion about the accept – don’t send response). Why not just click the d@mn button?

          If I had to guess one way or another if I didn’t get a response, I’d assume that they were not attending.

      2. Parakeet*

        In mine, other than standing meetings that occur every week or every two weeks and it’s assumed that anyone on the relevant team who’s in during that day/time will be there, nobody schedules a meeting in Outlook without having already discussed it with the other people involved. So the Outlook invitation is more to serve as a reminder that there’s this thing coming up that you all talked about and said you were going to do (and perhaps picked a time for through discussion or through group scheduling software). I’m getting some culture shock reading the comments on this one! Maybe org size has something to do with it (my org is pretty small).

    2. azvlr*

      I think this is a great rule of thumb. I’m pretty good (hopefully) about accepting meeting invites, but some of the attendees at meetings I host are not.

      The track record for when someone doesn’t accept is split fairly evenly between attended, didn’t attend, and other difficulties such as wrong meeting times, dates, dial-in or other technical weirdness. This doesn’t count the weekly 1×1 meeting at 8am my time that my boss frequently ghosted with no advance notice. Nothing like rushing in to work only to be stood up for the 11teenth time.

      Accepting a meeting invite is usually easy, and very valuable to the meeting organizer. So accept/decline them when at all possible.

    3. Yorick*

      I don’t know how you could possibly assume that they have accepted it. You have no idea if they even saw the invitation!

      1. Julia*

        Shouldn’t be that difficult to imagine a culture different from yours. If your work doesn’t involve that many meetings, and people generally watch their calendars, you can imagine a place where if you invite someone to a meeting it’s assumed they’ll show up unless they indicate otherwise. I used to work in a culture like that, where nobody really looked at the “accept/decline” feature on the calendar; we just assumed if something was on the calendar it was happening.

        It’s kind of baffling me how many people in this thread seem unable to imagine a different meeting culture from their own.

        1. Yorick*

          (I think) I’m pretty open minded and understanding of other people and cultures, but I honestly can’t imagine that after sending someone a meeting invitation (especially one where this is the first scheduling of an exact time and date, anyway) and that person not responding, I wouldn’t at least be anxious about whether or not the meeting will happen. And in every work place and social setting I have experienced, the assumption to no response would be that the person isn’t coming.

        2. ceiswyn*

          I understand a different meeting culture, I just don’t understand why any place would develop a meeting culture that sacrifices robustness and certainty (do Outlook hiccups or accidental invite deletions never occur?) for no advantage at all that I can see.

          1. Birch*

            Seriously. And then what happens if you make this assumption but someone doesn’t get an invite because of the hiccup, and doesn’t show up, do you assume they decided to blow you off and think badly of them? I had that happen once and had to tell the others to please not assume I’m coming to a meeting I didn’t agree to and then please not assume I rudely found something better to do with my time when I didn’t show up to the meeting I didn’t know was happening!

          2. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

            My work culture, calendars aren’t generally shared, things are scheduled using a doodle poll, there’s an email sent out with the information about the meeting, and then a calendar invite–but the purpose of the calendar invite is just so that everyone remembers; it’s not a means of communication in and of itself.

            1. Yorick*

              Even then, responding to the calendar invitation can’t hurt. They will still assume you’re coming, but if you “accept” the meeting then they have extra confirmation.

    4. Hillary*

      That may be a setting – if someone doesn’t accepts a meeting but doesn’t send me (as the organizer) the notice, I can’t see their status even when I open the invite.

    5. Alternative Person*

      That would be mine too, though I think that’s because we’re usually in fairly regular e-mail contact anyway. I certainly wouldn’t cancel a meeting without checking in with the other person first.

    6. ele4phant*

      See – and I would assume if someone hasn’t accepted that they a) either haven’t seen it and I need to confirm with them, or b) they aren’t sure if they can make it or not and if they haven’t let me know 15 mintutes beforehand, I need to confirm with them.

      It’s just so easy to be clear about your intention than leaving it to the organizer to correctly intuit what your non-response should mean.

      If you plan to attend, just take the extra nanosecond to click accept.

  6. Maggie Moo*

    I don’t understand, did OP leave the meeting as tentative and never accepted or declined to? Or did they just not send the acceptance notification. We use outlook and it is very easy to respond to a meeting request and to see on my calendar if I have not responded to a meeting request, but perhaps the OP’s system is more cumbersome.

    1. CR*

      I’m confused by this as well. OP received a meeting invitation and just never did anything with it? That’s a faux pas for sure.

      1. Ding ding*

        I like never respond to them with no issues – but that’s bc they’re always verbally set up. There’s no norm of checking the RSVPs, it’s more a courtesy to make it easy for ppl to grab a zoom link.

          1. sacados*

            Not necessarily. In Google Calendar, the meeting is automatically added when the invite is sent, and shows up as a white box with colored text/outline until you make an RSVP. So you still see the event on the calendar and any notifications are still triggered, as long as you haven’t actively declined it.

    2. anonymous73*

      I read it to mean that she never accepts meeting invites, she only declines them if she can’t join. Because she assumes a non-acceptance means yes. And her assuming that everyone thinks the same as her is ridiculous. It takes seconds to accept or decline a meeting. Why keep everyone guessing?

      1. Julia*

        I don’t know if you realize that *you* are “assuming everyone thinks the same as you” with this comment. If this has worked for her thus far, odds are good that’s how people she’s worked with handle it. It’s not that unusual to do it that way despite the odd amount of handwringing in this thread. Some cultures assume people are attending and put the onus on you to communicate if you want to decline. I’m not saying it’s a better way, just that it’s a way.

        1. Cj*

          There is no reason for anybody to have to assume at all. It takes two seconds (or less) to either accept or decline.

          1. Julia*

            Lots of social conventions only take two seconds to do and yet are not mandatory in all office cultures.

            1. JM60*

              But if the thing in question that only takes two seconds is deliver important information that impacts others, it’s rude to not deliver that information.

        2. Daisy*

          That makes no sense in the context of a two-person meeting. If a friend texted to invite you for a coffee and you didn’t bother to reply, would you expect to be able to turn up to the coffee shop and still find them sitting there waiting on the off-chance? No, that would be ridiculous. I don’t see how this is any different to that. It’s not a special ‘culture’, it’s just rude and inefficient.

          1. Elsajeni*

            I think the root cultural difference here is actually not “do you respond to meeting invitations,” but something more like “do you use meeting invitations as invitations or as confirmation of a meeting that you’ve talked about elsewhere”. Of course, if I text a friend “Want to get coffee?” and they never respond, I won’t go wait at the coffee shop for them. But if we ran into each other at the grocery store and had a whole conversation about getting coffee this weekend, and agreed that we’d meet at the Starbucks on 17th Street at 10 AM on Saturday, and after we leave I text them “See you Saturday!” and they don’t respond to that text… I will still be at the Starbucks on Saturday expecting to see them! There are lots of office cultures where the meeting “invitation” is more like the latter situation — we’ve all already agreed that this is the time and date we’re going to meet, sending an invitation in Outlook is just to make sure everyone has it on their calendar for easy reference, and unless someone actually responds to say “Wait, something changed and that time no longer works for me,” the assumption is that people will show up whether or not they RSVPed.

        3. anonymous73*

          I don’t assume everyone thinks the same as me, which is the point. Accept or decline – it’s not that difficult.

        4. Despairing of Humanity*

          I would view it like leaving a phone message for someone.
          “Hi, I’m out of town, can you feed my fish?”
          If they reply yes, I can plan to leave them with my fish, or I can ask someone else.
          If they don’t reply, one of two things happen:
          1. They can do it, and life is grand.
          2. They can’t do it, or they never got the message, but I assume that they have done it, and my fish die.

          OP is going to end up with a lot of dead fish living life this way.

    3. TiffIf*

      I read it to mean she does the “Accept – Do Not send response” which for years was my default because I didn’t want to clog inboxes with useless “Meeting Accepted” messages. Then I found out that when you use that option in Outlook it puts it in your own calendar but doesn’t record the Acceptance in the meeting. It is a REALLY STUPID way for Outlook to function.

      (This only applies if she is using Outlook.)

      1. No Tribble At All*

        :O Today I learned “do not send response” acts like that! Ugh! I’ll always accept with message, I guess!

  7. SheLooksFamiliar*

    When it comes to meetings, I will assume you will not attend unless you accept the invitation. Accepting takes 2 seconds and leaves nothing to chance. Maybe some office cultures are flexible about these things, but it’s still a nice thing to do.

  8. ENFP in Texas*

    I hate it when people don’t respond to meeting requests, for just this reason. If you’re planning on being there, accept the invite. If you’re not planning to be there, decline the invite. If you’re not sure, respond with “tentative”.

    It takes the guesswork out of it for the meeting organizer if they have to shuffle their schedule for some reason.

    1. CTT*

      Yeah, this is one of those things that I know people do and they must have a logic for it, but I don’t get it. An invite exists to receive a response.

      1. Happy*

        I know people who think that by accepting, they are creating an imposition for the organizers because it’s making a extra email traffic. So they are trying to be kind.

        (I find this misguided.)

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          In outlook you can accept without sending a response, I’m not sure about other email clients

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Came here to say this. If you’re worried about cluttering up the organizer’s inbox, you can accept the invite without sending a response and then when the organizer clicks on the meeting they’ll see you accepted. But maybe in your office you’d have to send the response so the organizer knows you’ve accepted. Either way, you should at least accept the meeting so your time is blocked out for it.

          2. Ali G*

            The meeting organizer can also set the request to not send responses. I did this recently when I had to send a calendar invite to all staff for a conference next year.

        2. Miss Muffet*

          I have a rule set up so that if the meeting is accepted, it goes into a folder since I generally assume people will accept. I do want to see if they decline or mark it tentative though, so those come into my inboxes. These are just for smaller team meetings, though – I don’t ever schedule the massive things where you’d def want to not get the responses via email.
          That being said, my filter doesn’t do any good when someone just ignores/doesn’t respond at all, which is annoying if the meeting comes up and people aren’t there and you look at the tracker and see they just never did anything with it. All that prep time wasted.

      2. Lab Boss*

        I guess the logic would be “Hey, I told you to book a meeting with me to review this report. You booked a meeting with just me, at a time we’re both free. You and I both know I’m going to be there.”

        I’m still with you that I prefer a response even in that case, but I can at least see some logic there in some cases.

        1. CTT*

          But I guess by that logic, then there’s no reason to send the invite at all if you’ve verbally agreed to it.

          1. TechWorker*

            I mean not really, because it’s still useful to have the reminder on your calendar. I do this with my boss allll the time and I’m pretty sure neither of us ever ‘accepts’ the meeting.

          2. Adam V*

            It’s still good to put it on the calendar so others can see that both people will be busy and not try to schedule something else at the same time.

    2. Ali G*

      I’m with you. I can’t fathom a reason why anyone wouldn’t indicate their intentions for the meeting. It’s not that hard and a courtesy to the organizer.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Agreed – if someone hasn’t accepted the meeting invitation, I don’t know if they have seen it or not. And since other people are involved, that means that SOMEONE – usually me – has to track the person down to make sure that they’re confirmed to attend, otherwise the other attendees will assume that the meeting is going to be cancelled. Cue having to re-organize the meeting.

      If you don’t know if you’re going to attend, just give a “tentative” response and figure it out so you can say definitively yes or no. If you do know, just accept. Why is this so difficult?!???!

  9. Engineer Woman*

    What I don’t understand from LW is why they don’t just accept the calendar invites for the meetings they plan to attend?

    Is their calendar system so difficult to use that accepting meetings will result in material impacts to their workload or workflow

    Especially for one on one meetings: provide a response!

    1. Blomma*

      Yes! I have a coworker who never accepts meeting invites either so it’s always a guessing game if they’re going to show up. What’s doubly annoying is that our team uses Outlook meetings invites to indicate when we’re out on PTO. I never know if this coworker is actually aware that I’m going to be out of the office and unavailable. Personally I find it annoying and somewhat rude depending on what the invite is for.

    2. Saberise*

      I support 9 very busy doctors. They get invited to probably 40 things a week. They only take part in like 25% of the items that are sent to them. They consider it a waste of their time to have to open and decline 30 meetings that people sent them just in case they would be interested. I can’t do it for them because I don’t know what of those 40 things they will be taking part in.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        This sounds like a very profession-specific protocol. Have you spoken to others in your position who find the doctors they support doing the same thing? I would think in this case, no response is understood to be not attending because they all do it and also, you are not fielding follow up calls from other support staff asking to confirm if Dr. Smith will be attending the X meeting.

      2. Yorick*

        That’s pretty different from a one-on-one meeting, though. They should still decline or accept, but it’s more reasonable not to in that situation.

      3. Essess*

        And that’s a major reason why ‘no response’ is considered a decline by default in many people’s minds. If it wasn’t important enough for you to respond, you probably won’t attend.

      4. ele4phant*

        Well, this is a good example of why one might assume a non-response means you are *not* planning on attending. You really only need to respond to the things you *do* plan to go to.

        Do the doctors you support accept the 25% of things they do plan to attend? If so, they’re golden, they have effectively communicated I will be there for the things they will be there for.

        Everyone else can either follow-up or assume no response means no attendenec.

      5. SG*

        What you’re talking about is different than a 1:1 meeting, or a small meeting where certain people are required because they are on the agenda, or they have important information or expertise to contribute, etc.
        When someone sends me an invite to something “just in case I’m interested,” I categorize that very differently than, “There are 8 people invited to this meeting who are essential and important, and the meeting will be rescheduled if one of them cannot attend.” For the small meetings where there is core group of essential attendees, those attendees know it will be rescheduled if they can’t make it, and in most cases they also *want* to be present because decisions are being made that will impact them. For those meetings, I expect RSVPs from the core attendees.
        There is one particular manager (slightly senior to me, but I’m also a manager, and we share a boss) whom I often have to email 2 or 3x to confirm he is attending a meeting, and this is a meeting he wants to attend and needs to attend. It’s extremely aggravating and imo disrespectful. We have very busy meeting schedules with a culture of RSVPing to calendar invites, unless it’s a training or very large meeting (i.e. where we’re not essential). My colleagues at many other agencies and organizations seem to follow the same protocol.

  10. Alex*

    For me, if someone hasn’t accepted I assume the invite got lost in their inbox or they didn’t see it for some reason, unless their attendance is optional or just tangential.

    1. Noblepower*

      Same here – we get so much communication by email and Salesforce chatter that if you don’t respond to my meeting request, I’m going to assume that you never saw it and unless I follow up, you’re not coming. Which means that if you don’t respond but did see it and plan to attend, I’m going to be wasting some time following up with you, and you will not be my favorite person.

    2. BethRA*

      Me, too.

      I don’t get “but I haven’t declined” – that’s true, but you didn’t accept, either. Why make people guess, or assume that you’re all making the same assumptions?

  11. Purple Jello*

    Ha! I’d assume the opposite: if you don’t reply to my meeting invitation, I assume you’re probably not coming… unless you’re one of those people who regularly doesn’t reply because you’re unorganized, or holding your options open, or you’re just being annoying. But… I probably wouldn’t cancel the meeting 15 minutes prior because if you didn’t show I’d have a block of uninterrupted time on my calendar .

    I’m in a new office now, so it’ll be interesting to see what the culture is hone we’re back on site.

    1. Ailurophile*

      Agreed on both accounts. In our onboarding, we tell new employees to respond to all meeting invitations. If you accept and are a few minutes late, we’ll wait a few minutes to start (unless it’s a huge meeting). If you don’t reply, we assume you aren’t coming and won’t wait to see.
      However, I also wouldn’t cancel the meeting that close to start time, especially given that the LW had to make a special trip to be on-site. Best case, they show up and you meet. Worst case, you have a nice block of unexpected focus time.

      1. Jaydee*

        That’s the other thing I noticed here: LW walked into the office right at 9 and had a meeting scheduled…for 9. If you’re potentially going to be late, it’s doubly important to accept the invite so the other people know whether to wait a couple minutes to get started or to start without you (or cancel).

        I’m guessing the colleague saw the unanswered invite, went to see if LW was in the office, saw her office was dark, figured she wasn’t coming in that day, and canceled the meeting.

  12. Health Insurance Nerd*

    It’s professional courtesy to accept/decline meeting invites (or you could call it just plain courtesy to accept/decline any kind of invite, really). Assuming that not declining means a default acceptance is not the norm in any office or job I have ever worked in.

    1. SomehowIManage*

      I just can’t fathom why the LW couldn’t be bothered to accept the meeting. RSVP, people! It’s common courtesy.

  13. PollyQ*

    If I’d been the colleague, I probably wouldn’t have cancelled without checking first, but given that it takes maybe 2 seconds to accept a meeting, I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t just do that if they’re intending to attend.

    1. ThatGirl*

      yeah, I really don’t understand the rationale behind not accepting a meeting you plan to go to. how else do you manage your calendar??

      1. Reba*

        Yes, I don’t think the letter writer is being a jerk, but…just…why do this?

        It’s very easy to *not* leave things up in the air.

        1. Risha*

          And if you really, truly are so annoyed by taking a literal one second to answer Yes, just turn on the auto-accept feature! (For Outlook and any other calendaring systems that have it.)

        2. cubone*

          I don’t mean to stereotype but as soon as the letter mentioned being “senior”, I was like “ah yes, there we are.”

          My personal experience (at my current and last job) has been that “junior” staff accept or decline meetings 100% of the time, and senior staff largely do not. It’s a complete guess if they show or not, and if you really need them there, it’s on you to reach out separately and ask if they will attend or you need to reschedule, at which point you get your answer. Yes, like the OP’s colleague, they are busy busy people but without a doubt it takes way more time to coordinate schedules this way than it would to just accept/decline.

          Whether this is true across the board or not, I think it’s very much an office culture thing, and in some cases (like mine), demonstrates that (not great/inequitable) cultures have very different standards/sets of norms based on hierarchy.

    2. Managing to Get By*

      It looks like they weren’t sure if the LW was going to attend, checked in a few minutes before the meeting, saw they weren’t in, then canceled. That makes complete sense to me. Good chance they were needing the time for something else and since the LW hadn’t accepted and wasn’t in the office figured they could take that time back.

      1. PollyQ*

        I would’ve pinged LW the afternoon before, rather than waiting until just before the tentative meeting.

  14. First time listener, long time caller*

    You clearly don’t have to send the Accept/Maybe/Decline response. This is shown over and over again by people saying, “Please send the Accept/Maybe/Decline response so I know who is coming” when they need you to do that (sometimes with big meetings). Otherwise, basically everyone assumes your coming.

    I actually think it’s really rude to use decline for a small meeting. You email the person and say, “I can’t meet at 3 o’clock on Tuesday because that’s when my pickling class is. Can we select another time? How about Wednesday at 10am?” I don’t get offended when people don’t do this, but it’s basic courtesy. Work meetings, unlike parties, usually have to be rescheduled if you can’t come.

    But what’s bizarre here to me is that it appears OP doesn’t accept invites at all, which means that meetings are always tentative in their calendar and people can’t use the scheduling function to see when they are free. That both seems like it would be limiting to them and is a bit of a faux pas if people in your office use the scheduling function.

    1. workswitholdstuff*

      Well, I’d decline, and propose another time in the response that I send alongside it? I wouldn’t just hit ‘decline’ for a small meeting, and nothing else.

      1. Beany*

        Ditto. If it’s a small meeting I’m crucial to, I give a reason for declining and (if possible) an alternative suggestion for the meeting time.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      I don’t think that this is “clearly” the case and definitely varies by office culture. Not responding at all to meetings in my industry would be seen as highly unprofessional. In my experience, the reason that people say, “Please send the Accept/Maybe/Decline response so I know who is coming” is not because, in this specific instance, they need to know but rather because the sender has had repeated problems with people not having the courtesy to RSVP and they feel they have to explicitly state it so they don’t have to waste their time chasing people down later.

      I use the Decline and Propose a New Time feature in Outlook all the time, regardless of meeting size, and include a short note asking to reschedule. This cuts down on back-and-forth traffic to reschedule and, if the new time works for the other party, they can accept and you’re done.

    3. anonymous73*

      How is it rude to decline if you’re unavailable? It’s rude to not respond at all. I don’t know how other email systems work, but with Outlook you can choose Decline and add a response or propose a new time.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        It’s a faux pas if the meeting invitation is a summons, i.e. the idea is that you’re being asked to *make* yourself available. I once did this, when I was new at my job: I was scheduled to be out at a client site, and declined an internal meeting because I assumed I wouldn’t be in the office. I later learned that the audit team I was on was going to be coming back early for the meeting…

        1. anonymous73*

          Faux pas does not equate to being rude. Company culture dictates whether it’s okay to miss a meeting, but being legitimately unavailable does not make it rude to decline.

    4. Yorick*

      In Outlook, the sender has to set up the invitation to allow the person to decline and suggest a new time. Otherwise, they can only decline.

      Sure, I’d write a message out explaining why I’m declining a small meeting invitation, but I’d also decline it – because the options are accept, decline, or tentative, and I know the meeting time won’t work so accept or tentative aren’t appropriate responses.

    5. Esmeralda*

      It’s not rude. If I decline a meeting, it frees up that slot in my calendar. Also, people sending invites do not always use the free-busy to see if I’m actually free — in that case, I do need to decline because I literally cannot be in two places at once.

      We use google calendars, so we can put a note that says: sorry, at another meeting, or, out of office or whatever. I actually only do that to cya on meetings I’m declining that I’m expected to attend.

      1. Miss Muffet*

        i think the idea is not so much that it’s rude to decline – it’s that it’s rude to decline with no commentary. Especially if it’s something you know you need to be at. You might need to go to the organizer and ask for a different time or see if someone else can cover or whatever — just some context and not just a “nope”.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      I always FEEL rude if I have to decline a small meeting, but sometimes I do have to do that, so I include a note mentioning that I’m double booked (or whatever) and proposing other times. (I feel less rude about it if the person organizing the meeting never bothered to ask what my availability was before booking, but it’s still awkward).

    7. Purple Cat*

      I think what “First Time” was getting at (which is a pet peeve of mine too) is when you have a small meeting, especially if it’s just one other person and they “decline” with no context whatsoever. No follow-up of 1) am I needed? Or 2) can we do a different time? Or any other courtesy check in besides “nope!”

  15. Archie Goodwin*

    “…know that it’s safer to accept meeting invitations if you plan to attend!”

    Absolutely. I’m a government contractor working with a lot of government folks, so being on various distribution lists I often get invitations for things that aren’t relevant to my work. I ignore them and don’t go to the meetings – I don’t create the expectation that I’ll be there. Conversely: for anything I intend on attending, I accept. If nothing else, it helps me winnow out the things I need from the things I don’t.

    Or to quote my father: “Better have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”

  16. Cat Lady*

    This question fascinates me, because I’ve been operating under totally different assumptions for meeting invites! If I see that someone hasn’t accepted a meeting invite and it’s happening very soon, I usually assume that means that a) they never saw the invite or b) they saw the invite, but then promptly forgot. Either way, it tells me that I need to reach out to make sure that they can still come to the meeting, because I’ve been blown off more than once by somebody who never responded to my meeting invite.

    1. OyHiOh*

      We operate pretty much the same. If I don’t get a hard accept/decline, I assume you didn’t see the invite for any one of a number of reasons. Every board of director’s email I send out in the week before a meeting includes a reminder copy of the virtual session invite, just to catch those who missed it.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “because I’ve been blown off more than once by somebody who never responded to my meeting invite.”

      Yes, this.

    3. MsMaryMary*

      Yes, this is my assumption. If you neither accept nor decline an invite I’m going to guess you never saw it or saw it and forgot to take any action. So I would end up following up to see what is going on.

    4. Willis*

      Yeah – I’d probably Slack or email a follow-up if I never heard back from someone. But if I couldn’t get a hold of them and could see they never accepted, I’d assume we weren’t meeting.

      Personally, I’ve always worked in environments where we’d ask about availability prior to sending a meeting invite so I don’t really check if people accept afterwards. But if I were sending invites cold, I’d go with no acceptance = not available.

      1. OyHiOh*

        A lot of the small meetings – under 5 people – that I schedule for my boss are the same: They’ve all communicated availability and I just have to find the time in common and schedule the thing. But they still consistently “accept” their invites and if they don’t I track them down.

    5. ele4phant*

      Yes a non-acceptance is ambigous. It can mean I’ve seen this and am not sure but will try to make it. It can mean I haven’t seen this at all and have no idea it’s about to happen.

      The last thing I personally would assume is that the lack of an outright no means yes.

      Be clear about your intentions – if you know you are going to attend, just click yes. It takes you less than a second.

    6. Erin from Accounting*

      For one-on-one meetings where the other party doesn’t respond, I absolutely check in to make sure they’re coming. For larger group meetings, whether I check in on the non-responders or not depends on how important they are to the meeting topic.

  17. Sparkles McFadden*

    This may also have to do with how many people are involved, how often you have meetings, and what your average email volume is like.

    I am firmly in the “please accept the meeting invitation if you’re going to attend” camp. This is especially true if the meeting involves multiple people with busy schedules. I didn’t really have spare time to call people and ask “Are you able to attending this meeting?” and I’d sometimes have people say “What meeting? I must have missed the invitation and I haven’t looked at my calendar.” I can’t see why one wouldn’t just accept the meeting.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I agree with the comment that it matters how many people are in a meeting. For a one-on-one, yes you need to accept, especially if it wasn’t discussed (although the colleague should have reached out, not cancelled). If it’s a huge group meeting and you’re not sure if you can make it, I do sometimes have the appointment on my calendar but not block off the whole day as unavailable when it’s likely not critical to be there. I suspect the reason it varies by culture is the number of just-catching-up-not-actually-critical meetings one is invited to.

      1. Data Bear*

        Agreed with @Sloan Kittering. There’s a difference between meetings that I have been personally invited to and events whose existence has been broadcast to a large group.

        For the former, a yes/no/maybe answer is essential.

        For the latter, it’s largely about how I want it to affect my calendar, since whoever sent the invitation has no interest in whether or not I specifically am attending. A ‘yes’ blocks off the time, a ‘maybe’ leaves it flexible if somebody needs me elsewhere, and a ‘no’ removes it from my calendar. Not responding leaves it visible on my calendar (Google Calendar behavior), which is useful for when I’m not planning to attend, but still want to preserve some awareness of the event. Maybe I don’t expect to be free but might drop in if I’m at loose ends, or maybe I want to keep track of it because it reminds me that other people will be busy with it at that time. But yeah, that’s only for cases where I have zero expectation that anyone cares whether I, personally, am there.

  18. Monty & Millie's Mom*

    Looks like most people so far fall where I always have – accept it if you plan on attending. It takes seconds, and is common courtesy, plus as someone else pointed out, NOT accepting will make it look like you are available at a time when you aren’t. Or that open time is a hope for a “better invitation”! :)

    That said, I know it varies a lot by office and you need to know your office culture/norms. But again – why wouldn’t you respond when it’s quick, easy, and courteous?

    1. greycat*

      I agree. Since accepting the meeting request is just one click of a button, there just really isn’t a good excuse not to do so, especially as it makes everyone’s intentions clear.

  19. seriousmoonlight*

    Yeah, if someone didn’t accept a meeting I would wonder if they even saw it. I would probably follow up, but I certainly wouldn’t assume that no reponse = meeting is still on.

  20. Nanani*

    The weirdest part to me is that the organizer -cancelled the meeting- altogether.
    It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me for LW to conclude that something more important must have come up to prompt that, rather than conclude that the organizer thought LW wasn’t going to be there.

    Conflicting assumptions, clearly, but still strange.

    1. Your Favourite Canadian*

      If this was a one-time thing, agree that it’s weird that the organizer didn’t reach out first. However, if OP has a habit of ignoring meeting invites, that’s different. I’ve worked with a few people who were notorious for not responding to meeting invites, and if they were a key invitee at a meeting, I’ve cancelled due to their lack of response. I see it like someone who won’t commit to a date in case he/she gets a better offer at the last minute. Partly I don’t want to waste company time not knowing if the person is coming or not, and also because it gets annoying and I wanted to kind of call them out on it.

    2. Sasha*

      Doesn’t seem that weird to me – two person meeting, one person hasn’t accepted by 15 mins beforehand, so assume the meeting isn’t happening. Cancel the meeting to open your own calendar up (if other people use that to see where you are).

    3. Lynn Whitehat*

      Possibly this isn’t the first time the LW has done this. Co-worker has gotten tired of guessing, following up, prepping for a meeting that may not even be happening. Cancel it once and hope that finally makes an impression. Which it did.

    4. allegedly_cc*

      I’ve definitely been that organizer, especially when I was in a very busy/meeting-heavy leadership role. I would generally glance ahead at my calendar to see if meetings were actually going to happen, sometimes with the goal of finding a lunch break or a few minutes to get something done. If someone ignored the meeting invite — especially someone who’s not in the office every day and has a history of unpredictable calendar hygiene — I might be a little disappointed, but also not have the energy to do the whole email/text dance of reaching out tactfully to see if they’re coming in today or planning to show up. I’d cancel, do what I need to do without wasting 5-10 minutes waiting to see if they show, and if they wanna talk to me they’ll reschedule when they feel like prioritizing it.

    5. Data Bear*

      I use my calendar as a record of the past in addition to tracking future commitments. If an event is planned for but doesn’t happen, I delete it to reflect that.

      If the organizer looked at his calendar 15 minutes before and concluded that no response means LW wasn’t showing, I could see him deleting the non-happening event right away so he doesn’t forget to do so. The question is whether 15 minutes before is too early to make that determination; I would wait, but if he’s a busy guy who needs to reclaim time whenever he can, it doesn’t seem unreasonable.

  21. Jen*

    In my 30 year career, I’ve never worked in a culture that assumed a non-response is an acceptance. My experience is just the opposite. I assume only those that accept the invite will attend. I’m also confused as if you don’t accept the invite, won’t that time look open and people will try to schedule over it?

  22. Lauren*

    If there are more than 5 invitees, I accept but don’t send a response. Unless it’s a series (like monthly team meeting, then I send acceptance and will decline with any conflicts).

    If it is less than 5, I send meeting acceptance.

    1. Kim S*

      This is more or less me. I am also like OP, where I don’t use or trust the “accept” or “decline” functions on calendars at all. I previously worked at a bigger company where I was the scheduler for all-staff meetings and it was a pain to get an email every time someone accepted or declined a meeting invite in those cases.

      I tend to agree with folks above who say, rather than declining the meeting via the calendar, just email or talk to the person, like “I can’t make this time, what other day might work?” Most of the time, I’ve worked out who is coming and who is not before I’ve put it on the calendar at all (in part because I don’t want to send everyone an email notification each time we have to move this meeting on the calendar!)

      1. Yorick*

        You really do need to use the response functions for meetings. You can choose not to send a response so the organizer doesn’t get a thousand emails, but you’ll still show up on the list as having accepted or declined the meeting.

  23. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    I don’t even see it as primarily a matter of etiquette or culture, but rather of efficiency.

    If you intend to go to the meeting, but haven’t marked yourself as busy at that time, and somebody else wants to schedule a meeting with you, they’re going to see that open slot and attempt an invite (assuming your calendars are even partly visible to others in the office).

    If you’re not available for a certain slot – for whatever reason – it just makes sense to let others know so that they don’t waste their time and energy trying to schedule a meeting with you, when you know darn well that you aren’t available.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      And if you manage your calendar poorly and get double booked and don’t respond to EITHER invite….which one should it be assumed you’re attending? This just hurts my brain

    2. sacados*

      Right, but in Gcal for example, a meeting that I haven’t responded to still shows up on my calendar, and is visible to others who can see my calendar. So if you’re in an office culture where it’s assumed that “no reply means you’re going, and you’ll decline if you’re definitely not going” then it still works, with no inefficiency for others.

    3. TechWorker*

      So I’m in the apparently rare ‘non response generally means acceptance’ camp. In our system as soon as a meeting is requested I will show as tentatively busy. Due to timezones it is VERY common for someone to send a meeting request during their daytime for the next day, which is first thing the next day for them. I’m not going to accept that meeting in their daytime because I’m asleep. So anyone else wanting to schedule by default has to assume tentative == unavailable. It works just fine… if I’m definitely not going to something and want to make clear I am available in that time I will decline it. (I will also decline meetings that are addressed directly to me if I can’t go, along with an email explanation of why/proposal for a different time, but that bit seems uncontroversial).

  24. OyHiOh*

    As a person who routinely schedules meetings for my boss/others, we both assume that a person who hasn’t actually accepted the meeting didn’t see the invite and therefore isn’t planning to attend.

  25. Prefer my pets*

    I’ve changed offices an average of every 3 years for over 20 years and I’ve never once worked someplace where not accepting wasn’t either the same as declining or saying “I probably won’t be there but if I end up with extra time then *maybe* I’ll pop in” For people who have meeting-heavy jobs this rule is even more true because their calendar shows them available & most places I’ve been in the past decade or so actually had policies in place that if your calendar showed free you were expected to be available.

    If you’re definitely going then you always, always hit accept.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      Same – I’ve never worked anywhere that the culture is “no response means I’m coming.” Everywhere I’ve worked, no response means you’re probably not coming, although you might surprise us by showing up anyway.

      It’s great that it works in your office, OP, but it’s certainly far from universal!

      1. Yorick*

        I’ve never heard of “no response means I’m coming,” and I don’t understand how that could be a widespread thing. No response can always mean you misspelled my name and I didn’t receive the invitation (this happened to me), the invitation got buried in a flood of emails and I don’t know about the meeting, or I am just too flighty to manage my calendar and therefore won’t show up to the meeting.

  26. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I am VERY diligent about meeting requests. I work in an office where everyone’s calendars are crazy, I can’t imagine the havoc if we didn’t accept meetings and you couldn’t see accurate displays of people’s free time. We even put dedicated worktime on our calendars for this reason.

    This letter makes me cringe

    1. The New Wanderer*

      You know, that probably biased my thinking too (always respond yes or no, especially if your attendance is expected/critical). My schedule only became meeting-heavy when everyone started working from home but it’s probably going to stay that way with remote + hybrid + in-office options running in parallel. It’s hard enough to find time on people’s calendars, it would be so aggravating to finally find a time and then one key person says “oh I have a meeting then, it’s just not marked.”

  27. Roeslein*

    If someone doesn’t accept, I assume they are at best tentative (if it a larger meeting with several attendees) or (if they are a client, or it is a 1-on-1) that the meeting is probably not happening. Meaning I won’t spend precious hours preparing for a client meeting that the client hasn’t accepted, not knowing if they will show up or not. That applies both in person and online. In every place I have worked not responding has meant either “decline but I can’t be bothered to let you know” (sometimes meant to make a statement, if e.g. it is an unsolicited meeting invite from a salesperson) or “I’m not sure and anyway it doesn’t really matter so I won’t mark myself as tentative”. Of course, sometimes invites are genuinely missed.

    1. Roeslein*

      Also, don’t your colleagues need to know whether or not you are attending a meeting (i.e. whether you are busy or just tentative) to determine if you are free for other meetings? I have no idea how this system would work.

      1. Kim S*

        hahaha see, OP’s approach makes total sense to me and your approach is mysterious! I think the key is whether meetings are scheduled out of the blue a lot in the office. I don’t put a meeting on the calendar unless i’ve already talked to the people that need to be there and confirmed that the day/time works well for them. I’ve never had a vendor put a random meeting on my calendar before, because they typically email me about the need for a meeting and to set up a time.

        I think most of the cultural difference here is “are calendar invites the way a meeting is initiated? Or is it the final step after everyone who needs to be there has confirmed their availability?” rather than anything specific about invites themselves

        1. Yorick*

          Even if the meeting invitations are sent after a day/time is reached, accepting them lets the organizer know that you can still make it. Maybe it’s not AS necessary, but it still wouldn’t hurt.

          1. Fran Fine*

            Exactly. You could all agree to a day/time only for an emergency to pop up at that exact time and then one of you needs to miss it. Keeping on top of these invites is important to not waste other people’s time.

        2. Eldritch Office Worker*

          In my experience meetings are usually initiated by “let’s get something on the calendar”, and then the scheduling is a next step. In a meeting heavy office that makes it critical that everyone’s calendars reflect their availability.

        3. HA2HA2*

          Yeah, my guess is that’s it.

          In the office I’m at right now, the calendar is how you schedule somebody’s time – after deciding “hey, we want to meet about this” one person goes into calendar, schedules the meeting (usually trying to fit it into the more senior people’s availability), and sends the invite. The response of “yes” or “no” actually is important there, and unless the organizer gets that yes or no, they have no way of knowing whether that particular time works or whether they’ll be missing the key attendees. (They could of course reach out individually – if the person doesn’t respond.)

          On the other hand, if the scheduling is done some other way, and the calendar event is just a reminder, and nothing gets put on the calendar unless it’s already been agreed to otherwise, I can see how the custom would be to ignore the invite unless something unusual needs to be communicated, like declining an already-agreed-on meeting.

  28. stk*

    If we’ve talked about a meeting and you said you were attending, I’d assume no reply meant you weren’t checking your emails/hadn’t seen the invite. If we have never talked about it and you’ve never acknowledged the invite, then yeah, I’m assuming you’re not coming!

  29. Admin 4 life*

    This is my biggest pet peeve. I schedule other people’s calendars and I save at least 15 minutes every time someone accepts or declines an invite. Having to chase people to confirm attendance takes up 15 hours a week.

    I think it’s poor calendar hygiene to leave items without responding to them. It comes across as a total disregard for everyone’s time. If you don’t know if you can make it, send a tentative acceptance with a note.

    Even if you decline the meeting, you’re not removed from the original invite so any notes/minutes/recordings will still get to you.

    1. workswitholdstuff*

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a tentative when you’re not quite sure, is there?

      There’s a few times where I’ve been invited to things and I’ve already got prior commitments that butt right up to the latest meeting.

      I normally send an ‘explanation’ with a tentative – eg. ‘I’ve got X meeting and I’m not sure when it’s actually going to finish, but if I’m out of X, I’ll come along to Y.

      (Zoom/Teams etc has made that a bit easier actually, because you’re not trying to physically change sites to get to meetings….)

  30. Happy*

    This kind of etiquette is extremely team-specific.

    Personally, I really wish everyone would accept if they’re going to attend, though. People who don’t are just creating unnecessary guesswork for the people organizing the meetings.

    1. workswitholdstuff*

      Yeah. If you’re on leave (and therefore I got an out of office so I know response is delayed), that’s fine. Otherwise flipping well tell me, so I can make a rational call as to whether to go ahead, or try to reschedule…

  31. Colette*

    I believe that if you don’t accept a meeting in Outlook and send the response , the organizer has no way to know you’ve accepted. Personally, I send responses when it’s a small meeting where I am a key participant; if it’s a large meeting where I’m observing, I don’t bother.

    But yes, for a one-on-one, I’d reply and accept. And if someone didn’t accept a one-on-one meeting, I’d check with them before cancelling.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      The organizer can look at the meeting itself and see a list of accepts/declines/no responses, so the “send a response” thing isn’t critical to knowing if someone is going to attend (though I personally like when people send a response because I’m going to see that faster/more frequently in my inbox than I am going to check the meeting itself).

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Agreed, it’s nice but not critical. I usually don’t send a response if I know the invite was sent by our office EA who coordinates the senior staff calendars, because she usually has already talked to me and I don’t need to clutter her inbox for the amount of invites she sends me – but one on one meetings I definitely do.

      2. Colette*

        But if you don’t send the response, it’ll just say you didn’t respond, which doesn’t give you new information.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          In outlook there’s an option to accept without sending a response, which won’t generate an email but will update the meeting information to show you’ve accepted. I think that’s what Caramel & Cheddar is referring to.

          1. TechWorker*

            I would assume that this depends though on whether the email is between outlook accounts all tied to the same company (in which case it works as you say) or whether the invites are going to people outside the company who may or may not be using outlook. I don’t know for *certain* but not sure how outlook would magically get the info in that case if there’s no return email.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        Same – the one that gets me is Decline & Don’t Send a Response for meetings under five people. Don’t make me dig around in the calendar invite for your response! If someone key can’t make it, I need to reschedule.

    2. High Score!*

      You can open the meeting and click on the tracking tab. It will show you the responses of everyone you invited.

    3. Grace Poole*

      Yes, I was surprised to find out that in Outlook, if you accept and don’t send a response (so as not to “bother” the sender) it doesn’t register anywhere that you’ve accepted at all. That seems to defeat the purpose.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        It registers in the meeting itself and the organizer can see a list of who has RSVPed and who hasn’t. The email confirmation doesn’t impact that part.

      2. Garrett*

        It marks it on your calendar and the organizer can check the Tracking tab to see the responses so they can see it.

  32. Heather*

    If you don’t accept the invite, then how do I know you 1) saw it and 2) plan to attend? I don’t want to wait hoping you show up if you haven’t confirmed.

  33. House Tyrell*

    It’s a professional courtesy to accept when you plan on attending and just makes everything easier for all involved- especially yourself! If you use Outlook or something similar, when you accept a meeting it shows your calendar as busy so you don’t get invited to more meetings or called unexpectedly by someone who assumes you’re available. It also sets a reminder for you so you don’t have to mentally keep track of everything. And as someone who has held a number of roles where I am responsible for coordinating meetings, part of my job in the past has been following up with everyone who doesn’t accept or decline to figure out what is happening so you could be creating unnecessary work for people when it comes to larger meetings. I really can’t imagine a reason to not accept when you plan to attend.

    1. House Tyrell*

      Also when meetings are over Zoom this isn’t as big a problem but when meetings are in person it’s frustrating to make the commute or set up rooms for a meeting that we aren’t even sure is going to happen or be productive if we don’t know who is coming or not. What do you do if you get invited to two meetings at the same time because your calendar shows you’re available and you don’t respond to either one?

      1. Not Today Satan*

        Yeah. Maybe he just wanted to run and get some coffee or food instead of waiting 15 minutes to see if the other person will show.

  34. Not Today Satan*

    I often cancel meetings if the other person didn’t respond. Especially if the meeting requires me to prepare in any way (like a training or demo). Usually in those cases I include something like “Does this time work for you?” or “Please let me know if you can attend”, so I am communicating that I expect an RSVP.

  35. Amy the Admin*

    What is the rationale for not hitting accept? It’ll block off your time. It will signal to the organizer you saw the invite and will attend and seems like basic office etiquette. If I sent out an invite that wasn’t accepted, I’d assume that person would not be attending. I really would like to hear from office cultures where a non response signals accept and hear why they do it that way.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*


      I’m here to chime in that OP is making more work for others with this (possibly passive-aggressive? possibly just self-centered?) habit. There must be more people who do this…now I have an explanation for the practice I have observed at this new firm I’m with where there’s an e-mail sent around asking people to suggest 2-3 times for a meeting, then an invite goes out and if you don’t RSVP somehow, you’re assumed to not be coming and your co-workers or superiors on your task might be asked to join the meeting because the info is still needed.

    2. Eden*

      Right! I can more or less accept that some people see this as normal but I literally don’t understand why you wouldn’t accept an invite to a one on one you are planning on attending.

    3. TechWorker*

      In my office culture you generally are assumed to be attending. I spend a lot of my day in ad hoc meetings, often scheduled at short (<24 hrs, cross timezone) notice. I know everyone’s saying ‘it only takes two seconds’ – well yes but I often don’t even read the emails, I just scan my calendar for what the topic is I’m expected to be when and show up (or decline things where I have a clash). Perhaps everyone hates me for it but I get about a ~20% acceptance rate when I schedule meetings and it’s bothered me not at all.

      1. TechWorker*

        To be clear – I mean I get about 20% of people ‘accepting’ meetings, but most people showing up!

  36. English Rose*

    This is so strange to me, I’ve never in decades (or at least since we had electronic calendars lol!) worked in a culture where it wasn’t expected to respond one way or another to a meeting invitation.
    Why would someone NOT click the button to say they are attending, it takes two seconds. It also, as ThursdaysGeek says, may affect how your availability appears to others depending on the calendar system you use.
    One of my team members always used to do this – just not respond – to team invites, so I always had to chase her the morning of the meeting to be sure she was attending. Incredibly inefficient and irritating. I had to specifically ask her to in the end and she did say that in her last company that wasn’t the way they did things, so I guess culture does indeed vary.
    All that said, it was odd of the person who arranged the meeting to cancel without checking.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Same. Since we’ve had e-calendaring, not responding to a calendar request is viewed the same way as not responding to an email asking if/when you’re available (which is a total no-go where I work). It takes mere seconds to accept, so why not just do so?

      I manage a lot of people new to the workforce, and we discuss explicit expectations for responding to emails and using your calendar. That way, new people know how our organization views these and can plan accordingly.

  37. S*

    My boss never accepts meetings. Everything sits on his calendar in the unaccepted/”tentative” state in Outlook. But he almost always shows up, so I guess it works for him.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      I have to arrange a lot of meetings for someone like that. Over the years I just got into the habit of operating on the basis that he was going to be at Meeting X, (unless there was some reason I knew for sure he wasn’t) and just avoided times when he has a tentative booking.

  38. Hiring Mgr*

    I would assume that unless I had an explicit decline, the meeting would be on. It’s far more unusual to decline a meeting with no note or context than to do nothing but still show up. But that’s just my experience, sounds like this is a YMMV thing

  39. Caramel & Cheddar*

    “But if you’d never discussed it and he sent you the invite out of the blue and you never acknowledged in any way … I can see him not being sure if the meeting was happening, although it’s odd that he didn’t just contact you to confirm.”

    I don’t think this is odd at all. This person sent a meeting invite and got zero response; I’d definitely assume LW wasn’t coming, and if you can’t bother to RSVP to the meeting, why would I expect you to respond to further contact about the meeting? Unless the meeting is too critical to not be rescheduled, chasing people about their meeting attendance is super tiresome, especially when we have tools to manage these things that LW seems to be going out of their way not to use.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Right, the colleague DID ask if OP was coming to the meeting. That’s what the meeting invitation was.

    2. Eden*

      Sometimes people lose track of emails but that’s doesn’t mean they’ll ignore follow-up, especially over chat or in person. I think people should accept invites but also you shouldn’t assume the worst intentions of others when it’s possible they just made a mistake.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Sure, but that just enables the LW since she knows that even if she doesn’t reply, someone else will chase her down to find out if she’s coming. Few people have time for that, especially not a C-Suite boss.

    3. Anomalous*

      And both of these folks are pretty high up in the organization, with the meeting organizer being HIGHER. Tracking down people to see if they are actually coming to a meeting they haven’t acknowledged is not a very good use of an executive’s time.

  40. Kyrielle*

    Personally, for no response, I assume the person probably missed the invite and won’t show up. I won’t cancel, but I’ll assume they might not be in the meeting. If they’re essential, I’ll try reaching out to them a bit beforehand (10-15 minutes) to see if they can make it, but I’ll expect that the answer might be no.

    But if I get a meeting invite, I am going to accept/decline/tentative it fairly quickly, so that the other party knows. (Or can carry on ignoring it – I doubt anyone is looking at the individual responses for a division all-hands meeting, for example. But I respond anyway, because if they actually are, at least they’ll have accurate info on my plans around it.)

  41. Essentially Cheesy*

    Not responding to a meeting invite at work is just as well as declining the invite at all. I suppose it does depend on office culture but those initiations do carry importance for scheduling and resource planning. I realize there’s less pressure on a 1:1 meeting but it’s still being respectful to accept or decline the meeting instead of leaving even one person up on the air.

    I had a former boss that would accept almost no meeting invites (and barely would attend the ones he would accept). I would need to almost badger him sometimes for his response because lunch planning would be affected by non-answering people. It would drive me crazy. (I don’t miss him.)

  42. Jessica Fletcher*

    OP should have accepted the planner, and should have accepted *and sent the acceptance response*, to avoid confusion since both OP and the other person are not always in the office. The other person obviously intended to meet in person, and since OP didn’t respond, they had no idea if OP intended to be in the office that day.

    I’ve noticed that my office’s approach shifted after most of us started WFH during the pandemic (and most of us continue to do so, at least for now). When the vast majority of us were in-person every day, most people didn’t bother to click the “send a response” when accepting a meeting. It was about not clogging up the person’s inbox with acceptance notices, and hey, we’re all here everyday, seeing each other. You only sent a response if you needed to let them know you wouldn’t be available.

    Since WFH, I noticed that most people DO send the response now, whether it’s yes or no. Working virtually, it’s more helpful to get the acceptance emails than not, so we know who’s going to be there. When we were in-person, if Felicia hadn’t arrived to the conference room yet, we could easily say, “Hey, does anyone know if Felicia is in today? Should we wait a couple minutes for her?” But virtually, having the meeting response is the only way to know if Felicia had planned to attend the meeting.

    Some people may not know – if you click to accept but “do not send a response,” the meeting planner doesn’t record that you accepted the meeting. So it’s reasonable to wonder if the person intends to come at all.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yeah the fact they both had to commute for this meeting definitely adds a layer of inconsiderate to the situation.

  43. Me (I think)*

    If you’re planning to go to the meeting, why in the world would you not accept the request? It’s literally one button click in an email you have to read anyway.

  44. Snorlax*

    My boss almost never accepts or declines meeting invitations. Sometimes he shows up anyway, sometimes he doesn’t. I find it annoying and think people should always respond to meeting invitations.

  45. twocents*

    In my office, it’s only accepted if you accept it. Not accepted could mean anything from “I didn’t even see this invite” to “I might come” to “I’m definitely not coming.”

    Outlook gives you the option to respond to host if you accept or reject. Just send the response! If they don’t give a crap if you accepted or rejected, then they can delete the email.

  46. Eve Polastri*

    It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine when i sent out a meeting invite but i don’t get an acceptance or decline. It doesn’t allow me to plan and it fills up a slot where i can do something else.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      This. It’s so disrespectful of other people’s time, especially when there’s pre-meeting prep involved. You can’t get that time back even if the meeting gets cancelled.

  47. Vanessa*

    Since Allison is pretty much always correct, I’m sure there are different practices in different offices for this.

    But for what its worth… in 20 years of working I always assume a non-response is the same as declining. Every colleague I’ve had treats it the same way (private sector, non-profit, law, government). No response = decline and/or you didn’t see it and are not showing up. So even though this may be standard for your office, I’d try to change the habit because it’s definitely not a standard practice across the board if you switch employers.

    Also, if I had a colleague that didn’t accept the invite, but chronically showed up anyway, I think I would likely not bring up the fact that I found that behavior confusing and unprofessional, because if their performance was otherwise good, I’d chalk it up as a weird quirk. But it wouldn’t mean I would think they are correct. Just trying to put some context on a potential reason no one ever said anything to you.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Yup. I know I would be, but if OP was higher up than I am or was someone I knew did good work otherwise, I’d probably just stew in silence, lol.

    1. hellohello*

      in contrast, in my office if someone sends you a calendar invite for a meeting it’s either a) not optional or b) something you’ve discussed beforehand. I don’t even check if people have accepted the invite, because I’ll either get an email from them if they need to reschedule or from the calendar if they decline; otherwise they will be coming to the meeting as it’s a required part of their job.

      1. Rosy*

        This is the way mine works as well! I’m surprised that so many people think this is totally wacky and unacceptable.

    2. Esmeralda*

      Agreed. I’ve been working in offices for over 40 years. No RSVP (phone, paper, online, pony express…) = I have to follow up, if you’re important to the meeting, so thanks a lot for wasting my time. Or if you’re not important, then I assume you’re not coming. Thanks for showing up after all and eating the breakfast which was ordered for the correct number of attendees, which makes the office manager look bad.

      No RSVP = you don’t care about my time and effort. If you’re the dean, I’ll live with it. Otherwise, I figure you are a jerk or are disorganized, neither of which I find impressive. Sure, if it happens once or twice, I get it, we all make mistakes. Consistently? Yeah, I got the message and you’ve now got a reputation.

    3. Risha*

      Right. In most offices I’ve been in, most of the chronic non-responders are useful enough that they’re treated as ‘broken stairs’ and you just live with the uncertainty and get quietly annoyed at them. I can think of two in my current company off the top of my head, both in very senior and critical technical positions. When you’re desperate for help, you schedule a group working session and then start the meeting asking each other, “any idea if H is online today?” and wait and see if they show up.

  48. Fiddlesticks*

    In my office, people who receive meeting invites and never accept (or decline) them are viewed as irritating time-wasters. Most of these people seem to think they’re “too important” to check their email and respond in a timely manner, and therefore they delay everyone else from being able to set up meetings and be sure that all the necessary people can be there.

    There’s a reason that meeting invites come with “Accept”, “Decline” and “Suggest a New Time” options. They don’t come with an option that says “If You Don’t Respond That Means You’ve Accepted.”

  49. Random Internet Stranger*

    This is fascinating to me… So, I always accept/decline/tentative, but I never send a response to the calendar invite creator. But, no one has ever sent me a calendar invite without first contacting me and finding a time to meet with me.

    That being said, no one has access to my calendar to just randomly schedule a meeting without asking me.

    I only think decline = decline and don’t even notice if people don’t accept, but their attendance is either expected (it’s a regular, ongoing meeting) or they confirmed verbally or via email (not via the calendar invite function though).

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      A lot of people seem to think inviting someone to a meeting is “adding it to my calendar.” It’s not. It’s proposing a time and asking if that works for you. Which is why the polite (and common sense) option is to either accept or decline.

      1. TechWorker*

        Well except in my company where calendars are shared and inviting me to a meeting very literally adds it to my calendar… :p

  50. Adereterial*

    Accepting or declining a meeting is literally a single mouse click. I can’t imagine not bothering to do that; it’s really quite rude, frankly.

  51. hellohello*

    IMO it seems odd for the person to have cancelled the meeting instead of just asking you directly if you were available or not, but it’s also best to actually accept or decline meetings instead of leaving them un-replied to.

    Your best bet moving forward is to either accept or decline meetings or, if you prefer not to have to respond to each one, set your calendar up to automatically accept meetings you’re invited to if they don’t conflict with another meeting. (The latter is an option in gcalendar, at least, and is what I do because it’s very rare for me to turn down a meeting invite unless I have a scheduled conflict. It’s just easer for me to have them automatically accepted instead of having to manually respond to each one.)

    1. anonymous73*

      I don’t think it’s odd. The OP didn’t respond to the invite, is mostly remote, and was in route to the office just before the meeting. If I were the meeting sender, I would assume OP wasn’t coming and cancel to free my time.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Exactly. Why should he have to chase down the OP to find out whether or not she was coming when the avenue to do so was the initial meeting invite? It’s rude to give someone yet another task in their already busy workday.

      2. HelloHello*

        I just can’t imagine inviting someone to a one on one meeting without talking directly to them about it first, and if someone spoke to me about a meeting, sent out an invite to said meeting,and then cancelled the meeting without checking in with me about it first I’d be very confused. Possibly other offices have a culture of setting up meetings via calendar invite only, with no discussion beforehand, but it feels very odd to me and would honestly confuse me.

        1. HA2HA2*

          I’m in one of those right now! Generally, “we should meet about X” is discussed beforehand, and it’s unusual to get a calendar invite totally out of the blue. But picking a specific time is done via calendar (and in fact, the easiest way to find a time everyone’s free is to pull up the calendar, start making a meeting invite, and have the software “show availability” for everyone that needs to be in the meeting, and find blocks that are free). The calendar invite typically means “We’ve agreed that we need to meet about X at some point, does this specific time work for everyone?”

          You do sometimes get a calendar invite out of the blue, though. That’s also acceptable, but not common. Hopefully in that case the meeting title and description are informative enough that you can understand what it’s about and make the decision about whether to accept or not (or the organizer is in your chain of command so you accept because it’s the boss).

        2. Red Swedish Fish*

          So you essentially have a mini meeting to discuss having a full meeting, that theory sounds exhausting. I would never get anything accomplished.

          1. HelloHello*

            Not a mini meeting, just a one line question on slack. Literally “hey, can we meet about X soon?” with the typical response being either “sure, my calendars up to date if you want to grab a time” or “oh actually person Y is better to talk to about that”

        3. Hell in a Handbasket*

          That may be the system at your company, but I would say it’s far from universal. Having to talk to someone prior to a meeting to schedule the meeting seems inefficient to me. That’s what the meeting scheduler tool is for! Pick a time that the other attendee(s) have free and send the invite; if they can’t make it they will decline and propose a different time. I tend to dislike it when someone interrupts me to ask about when to schedule a meeting, and just tell them to look at my calendar (which people in my org tend to keep up to date).

  52. Almost Empty Nester*

    I guess I’m old fashioned, but really all it takes is a click to accept the invite, and it would appear to me that it’s common courtesy to either accept or decline. Doing neither is the equivalent of letting the day just happen to you instead of controlling your time effectively. People who don’t accept invites drive me batty!

    1. anonymous73*

      I don’t think it’s old fashioned to expect people to have common courtesy. It’s like people who don’t RSVP to a party when you need a head count for food and drinks. It’s just plain rude.

  53. Roscoe*

    For me, this depends who I’m meeting with.

    IF its an external person, and they don’t respond, I’ll still call/zoom at that time.

    If its internal, and they don’t accept, I will assume they aren’t planning to attend. How hard is it really to accept a meeting? Takes a half a second.

  54. Person from the Resume*

    Wow! If you planned on attending why wouldn’t you accept? Why wouldn’t you mark your calendar as busy at that time? Your thought process is honestly bizarre to me. “I’m going to attend this meeting, but I can’t be bothered to click accept.” How does the person making the invitation know if you’ve even seen the invite?

    My office culture is people accept or decline. Never responded to the invite IDK I assume they have been out or they missed seeing the invite.

    I wouldn’t normally check who accepted or declined (1-on-1 meetings are rare), but for a meeting where there is a critical attendee I have my people check to make sure the key person has accepted before the meeting. I guess if I am doing a 1-on-1 I’d notice if they accecpted or decline.

  55. Nonprofit Jane*

    I would absolutely assume someone couldn’t make a meeting if they never accepted it, even if they didn’t decline the invite either. This is true even if we agreed to “meet to talk about X on Tuesday morning”. Just….. accept the meeting invitation? What a bizarre thing to not do.

    1. Spearmint*

      What if you already agreed to the meeting time verbally/via email in advance? That’s the norm in my office. Everything is organized verbally or via email and the calendar invites are mostly there so you have a reminder for the meeting when the day comes. People rarely if ever look at each other’s calendars.

      1. workswitholdstuff*

        Even if you’ve agreed, sorted out times by emails etc, we still accept.

        It blocks out your time – and also, if somethings comes up and you’re going to need to cancel? Well, you can click cancel/decline – and it’ll update the organiser you’re now not attending….

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        I mean, this just happened to me today. Can you meet tomorrow morning? Yes. Cool, here’s the invite.

        1. workswitholdstuff*

          I’ve done it on the phone to my manager when we’re setting a time for a 1:1 – ‘right, we’ve agreed when we’re doing it, let me send the invite’

          I hear the ping of her email, and she’s then going ‘yep, got it, that’s in the diary now…’ – so it keeps that block free from other commitments…

      3. Nonprofit Jane*

        Yep, even then! I work in a high volume and high stress nonprofit where things change very frequently as we’re responding to outside situations, so I could have a conversation with a coworker today about meeting tomorrow morning, and between now and then, they could be roped into something more important that take priority.

        We use the calendars to organize and everyone’s calendar is up to date. If I had to schedule a meeting, I would just look at everyone’s calendars to see when they’re free and add it the meeting. I wouldn’t ask each of them individually when they’re free — that’s the whole purpose of sharing calendars.

        Anytime a coworker wants to meet with me, I don’t negotiate the time at all. I say “my calendar is up to date, feel free to put time on my calendar.” It works for my office, and personally I prefer it.

        1. Spearmint*

          That’s interesting, and I think I may even prefer such a culture myself! But people just don’t use their calendars that way, and it would generally be seen as presumptuous to just “put time on your calendar” without talking to them first (excepting things like routine meetings and the rare officewide all-staff meetings).

    1. Spearmint*

      In many offices, the meetings are scheduled via email or verbally before an invite is sent, so the invite is more for the reminder/zoom link than for the organizer to track who’s coming.

      1. Nonprofit Jane*

        It sounds like that’s not what happened here though, and judging from responses, that is not the norm is many offices.

  56. Spearmint*

    I’m surprised by all the responses saying it’s normal to assume people who don’t actively accept a meeting request are not attending. My experience has been much like the LW’s: if you don’t actively decline a meeting, I assume you’re showing up. It’s easier to have a norm where roped who can’t attend actively reach out than making sure each and every attendee accepts.

    I make it a point to accept all meeting requests if I plan to attend, but many of my coworkers don’t.

    1. Prefer my pets*

      You must have far fewer emails/invites than anyplace I’ve ever worked. Odds are not insignificant that someone who doesn’t even bother to click the box on the email they already have open never saw it in the first place and doesn’t even know to show up.

      1. Spearmint*

        On a busy week I have 10-15 meetings per week, but they’re almost all with people I work with routinely, so we all generally know who is attending before the invite is sent out.

        In my office, meetings are usually scheduled verbally or via email and the invite is more for the reminder/zoom link than anything. In the rare cases I look at someone’s calendar and they have a tentative meeting, I just ask them if they are busy that day.

        1. Eh*

          That’s a different thing then, isn’t it? Your work culture has established that the invite is not the scheduling tool. Based on what you’ve said, it’s not being used that way almost at all and meeting details are straightened out before you even touch it. But in absence of that, then what?

        2. Dr. Rebecca*

          I was going to ask if the meetings are with people who are normally physically in the office with you, so if they don’t accept you can pop down the hall to see if they’re there… the LW seems to not be in their office unless necessary, and so yeah, if I got no response, I would assume they were declining/hadn’t seen the invite/were not planning on coming in that day.

    2. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      Same. Also our Outlook shows the meeting on your calendar regardless of whether you accept or interact with it at all, and my boss lives and dies by his calendar, so whether he sees the invite in their email is irrelevant. He never accepts calendar invites but if he hasn’t declined, he’ll be there – probably a bit late, but he’ll be there.

      I accept everything meant for me, and if I am absolutely certain boss will be there, I accept for him.

      1. LilyP*

        Keyboard flunk. Same here! I’m definitely not spending my time double-checking attendance lists and chasing down my coworkers for clear RSVPs, because I expect people to be on top of their calendars and let me know if they have a conflict. I’m surprised so many people think it’s routine for their coworkers to completely miss or ignore emails. Maybe it’s something about working on a small team without a lot of external meetings?

    3. Rosy*

      Yes, same for mine! Meetings in calendars are just as an FYI after it’s already been arranged by email or whatever.

  57. Fernie*

    We have a culture where you accept meetings you plan to attend, and no response or decline means you won’t. However, I used to only look at my calendar invitations and send acceptances late Friday afternoon for the next week, which made my time look free, which made people schedule invitations over top of each other on my calendar.

    So, I’ve set up my calendar to accept all meetings automatically. This has helped a lot with giving earlier notice to meeting organizers, and it has saved a lot of time for me in calendar management. It has its downsides – people still schedule meetings over top of each other so I have to go in and decline or propose new times for the conflicts. And sometimes in meetings I’ll have to scramble to see what people are talking about when they say things like, “Of course we’ll talk about this more in the call tomorrow” or “Here’s the agenda for the 28th”, because the meetings pop onto my calendar without me having to see them. So I don’t recommend this strategy to everyone, but for the LW, your calendar would be set to the same default assumption that you’re making, so it might work for you.

  58. scmill*

    Are you new to the workforce? People are busy. Do them the courtesy of responding, and don’t make them chase you down.

    On the other hand, unless something in Outlook changed drastically since I retired 3 years ago, the organizer sees the list of who accepted or declined. A physical response just clutters up the organizer’s email.

  59. anonymous73*

    As someone who sets up meetings frequently with busy people, yes it is rude to ignore a meeting invite. What’s the point of doing nothing? It literally takes seconds to click a button accepting the invitation. Not to mention it blocks off the time on your calendar as “busy” instead of “tentative”. If I’m scheduling a meeting, I’m going to book something if others are tentative because it’s frustrating enough trying to find the same time free for a group of very busy individuals.

    1. Aquawoman*

      I keep seeing this idea that “it takes seconds…” which I disagree with. Sometimes that’s true and sometimes it’s not. The majority of my invitations are like “Llama project discussion” with no additional information, so it’s hard to know whether I’m needed or not, what it’s about, what priority it should be, etc. Also, my work involves flitting in and out kind of work like answering quick emails, medium-length work like writing or reviewing memos, and deep work like writing long legal documents or conducting time-pressured negotiations. It would not be easy, convenient or rational to stop my negotiations when the objection deadline is tomorrow in order to answer an invitation.

      1. anonymous73*

        So you set up a period of time to go through your emails. And it does LITERALLY take seconds to respond to a meeting. If you need more information to know if you’ll attend, you click “tentative” and type a quick question/response to get what you need to make your decision. So it might take 30 seconds to respond instead of 5 seconds. And your example proves the point of needing to accept an invitation. If you’re busy and don’t have a chance to see an invitation, then your lack of response means you never saw the meeting invite and the sender can assume you’re NOT coming to the meeting.

      2. PollyQ*

        A) None of that time is related to whether you use the “attend” functionality. That’s time spent deciding whether you will attend. You’d have to do that regardless of what decision you ultimately made. (And the solution is to ask meeting organizers to give more information up front.)
        B) As long as there’s decent advance notice given for the invitation, nothing says you need to drop what you’re working on and answer it right this minute.

  60. RSVP culture*

    I’ve been in the office/corporate working world for about 12 years. i’ve never heard of the idea that not accepting = you will be there. in my current job, we have a very strong culture of paying attention to the RSVPs. The only person who does what you do is the SVP and he only does that to us underlings and it’s seen as a quirk of his that he can get away with due to his position. if he doesn’t actively decline, there’s a chance he’ll be there. and sometimes he does accept things when he knows for sure he will be there.

  61. Lady Scrub*

    Why leave room for interpretation? If you’re going to the meeting, accept the invite. If not, decline or tentative. I always send a response for smaller meetings, but if it is something where my response doesn’t matter (big meetings), I accept and don’t send a response to cut down on email clutter.

    Not accepting a meeting you intend to attend and then expecting the organizer to confirm with you if you’re coming is just inconsiderate of their time.

  62. MissM*

    Please send a response in Outlook and not just accept the invite! Especially for one on one meetings or ones where your presence is key. Bring transparent about intentions helps everyone knowing whether Mary might be running late or whether she’s blown off the meeting altogether and I need to reschedule. Thank you!!!!

  63. Green great dragon*

    I would have checked in before cancelling a meeting, but up until that point I’d’ve been dealing with schrodinger’s meeting – do I prepare for it? Can I plan to do something else in that timeslot? Has OP seen it, are they off sick? What if you’re trying to schedule other things around being in the office that day – at what point is does ‘no response yet’ turn into an acceptance?

    I seem to feel more strongly about this than I would have expected. I spend long enough trying to find meeting slots when I can assume booked=booked and everything else means not booked.

  64. Environmental Compliance*

    In my office, not accepting the invite is assumed to be a decline. I have never worked somewhere where not responding = accepting.

    And honestly I don’t quite get the logic of not responding = accepting…. if you didn’t respond, I have no idea if you even saw the invite, and if you didn’t see the invite…how would you know to be there?

    If there’s a question of whether or not you will definitely be there – click tentative. The option is not just accept/reject. You can also put tentative and show that you may or may not be there.

    Most offices that I have worked at, if you just….never responded to meetings, you would be annoying a large part of the office. Not responding means someone has to spend extra time chasing you down when you could have just clicked a response while reading the invite.

    1. LilyP*

      I think the workflow/logic is, if you generally find your co-workers to be reliable about reading their email and showing up to meetings or letting you know about conflicts proactively, you can just send the invite and forget about it, and not spend any time following up to check who accepted or didn’t or chase people down for an answer. So it’s not “I see they didn’t accept so I know they’re coming”, it’s “once I send the invite the ball is in your court to let me know if it doesn’t work for you”

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        That may work for a large meeting where not everyone *needs* to be there… but a 1:1? If one or two people don’t show up out of a group of 10, that’s one thing, but if it’s just me and Other Person and Other Person doesn’t bother to indicate if they’ll be there, they are taking over that chunk of my time, for the meeting, meeting prep, and chasing them down, simply because they will not take two seconds and respond.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, and I can say there are definitely times that I didn’t see the initial invite and then I’m looking at my calendar later and see the tentative meeting and am like “wait what the heck is this?” lol.

  65. Nia*

    So everyone else has jobs where you can just decline meeting invites? Or ask that they be rescheduled after invites have gone out? Because at my job once invites are out a meeting is happening at that time and everyone on the invite list is expected to be there period. Whether or not you respond doesn’t matter.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Depends on the size of the meeting/who’s running it. But one-on-one meetings like this? Yeah I’d assume the other person might reschedule. I get a lot of “just put time on my calendar” or something similar, if a conflict arises or a client priority comes up I’ll get a reschedule request and that’s no biggie.

      1. Nia*

        I guess we just don’t have a culture of meetings in my department(IT). My boss would never send out invites for a one on one and he’s the only one I’d have one on ones with. A meeting between multiple people in the department won’t go on the calendar 90% of the time either. The only time there’s guaranteed to be meeting invites is when people in other departments are involved.

    2. HalloweenCat*

      Ditto what Eldritch said, but adding that where -you- fall in the food chain matters a lot too. If it’s a meeting of all peers, anyone is welcome to reschedule and I wouldn’t hesitate if I had a conflict. However if I’m in a meeting where I’m near the bottom of the hierarchy and a lot of people are involved, I wouldn’t dream of it.

    3. Happy*

      At my work, it’s very common to have multiple meetings at the same time so you can’t always attend all of them.

      Or to be invited as a courtesy to a meeting that you might attend if you have time and interest but it’s not a requirement that you attend.

    4. hellohello*

      This is also my experience. The vast majority of meetings I have are a mandatory part of my job. Optional meetings sometimes happen but they’re either a) large social or educational events where it doesn’t matter if people accept or decline the invite or b) small meetings with your peers where the person initiating the meeting reaches out directly to ask if you are free and *then* sends an invite. With the latter, I’d assume the person’s coming because we talked about it directly, no matter if they accept the actual invite.

      1. Nia*

        That’s my experience with invites. Everyone confirms when they’re free first and then the invite goes out.

      2. Parakeet*


        After puzzling about this as I read the comments, I realized that part of the difference to me is probably that most of my “meetings” (not the word I’d usually use) are with clients (as in, individual people who use the services at the nonprofit where I work, not other organizations). And I put those on my calendar to make it clear that I’m not available during those times and to remind myself of my own schedule, but it’s not like I’m sending our service users Outlook invitations. Within our organization our meeting culture is similar to yours – meetings are either recurring team meetings of various sorts where I’m expected to be there, or small meetings where we discussed it verbally and the Outlook invitation is for reminder/convenience.

        1. HelloHello*

          I suspect we have very similar office meeting culture. About half my meetings are with external clients, who I do send a calendar invite to but the thought of standing up or cancelling on a client because they didn’t respond to the calendar invite is wild and would be super bad customer service. Internally meetings are either required or otherwise prearranged so it doesn’t make sense to check the replies unless there’s a specific reason to know the exact headcount (which is rare.)

    5. Empress Matilda*

      Depends on the meeting, your role in the meeting, and your role/status in the office generally.

      If it’s a Town Hall or other huge meeting where the point is mostly a one-way communication, then most people will prioritize it if they can, or decline (or maybe even ignore!) if they can’t. If it’s a smaller meeting involving executives, it’s assumed that people lower down the org chart will prioritize it, but there’s sometimes a bit of leeway to ask if it can be moved if need be. If it’s a 1-1 with your immediate boss, generally either person can ask to have it moved.

      It’s rare to just decline a meeting without any further conversation, but asking to have them moved is pretty common IME. And it’s certainly a lot easier to do when everyone has their calendars up to date!

    6. Starbuck*

      Well, it depends on the nature of the meeting and who’s organizing. And your work culture I guess. If I propose a time to meet up with peers to discuss a project that’s not time sensitive, yeah they can decline if a conflict comes up or they end up with a higher priority in that time. If my grandboss schedules a meeting with me to discuss a grant application deadline coming up soon, I could decline if I had something else truly urgent and immovable but I’d need to make a good case for why, and might get overridden. Where I work it’s very rare that a meeting would be someone’s top priority that day, we have lots of time sensitive projects where the time constraints are dictated by external factors outside our control so we’ve got a culture of relative flexibility, and filling people in later if they’ve missed important stuff or their input is needed.

    7. Pigeon*

      We all have those meetings that are mandatory and not subject to change, but if that describes all of your meeting, you either have a very niche office culture or a very meeting-light schedule.

      1. Nia*

        Meeting light might be an understatement lol. I have had 3 meetings make the calendar since May of last year. There have been other meetings sure but nobody bothers with invites if it only involves people in my department.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Whereas 10 meetings would be a light week for me (and I have less meetings than most people in my office) so different approaches for those two scenarios make sense lol

    8. Eh*

      In my experience, that’s less of an invite and more of an order, and you will be able to tell which one you’re getting and what the expectations are. Depending on who sent it, what it’s about, etc.

    9. Empress Ki*

      What if you have another meeting already scheduled? You would have to accept one and decline/ try to reschedule the other.
      In my job, I am often away visiting clients (some of them 3 hours travel away!) so there’s no way I can be at a time meeting at the same time. I have to prioritize.

    10. Ashley*

      I was in this boat myself at my previous job. The whole culture of the company was very rigid and authoritarian. The majority of my meetings were not optional, to the point where I sometimes spent more than half the day in meetings, which made it really tough to manage my staff. (The fact that it took me 2 years as a manager to get a laptop but would be scolded for calling into meetings rather than attending physically so I had access to my PC was a related issue.) Even when I did decline because I had a conflict or would be out of the office, it was made very clear to me that my non-attendance in most meetings was a detriment. That place was messed up.

  66. CommanderBanana*

    If you’re planning to attend a meeting, why wouldn’t you accept the meeting request? I would never assume someone was attending a meeting if they didn’t accept the meeting request.

  67. Joanna*

    I hate when people don’t response to invites. It makes more work for me because then I need to follow up to make sure the person has seen the invite, and then confirm if they are attending or not. It’s particularly frustrating when I know senior leadership will be attending the meeting and if certain people don’t attend, there is no point holding the meeting to begin with and everyone’s time is wasted. For things to run with any amount of efficiency in my organization, everyone really does need to manage their calendar. There are just too many people and too many meetings for that kind of chaos.

    (It’s still less annoying than not responding to a kid birthday party invitation when bounce houses, pizza, and cake orders are on the line.)

  68. lilsheba*

    I always accept meeting invites and if it’s small I send a response, always always always….who doesn’t do that?

  69. Workfromhome*

    Id expect that if someone is sent an invite receives it and reads it that they will use one of the options. accept, decline or reschedule. It takes all of 5 seconds to reply. I dont get a reply I would assume that they either didn’t read it or are on vacation not connected somehow. If you are going to decline or even be tentative no god reason to to leave the meeting organizer hanging just reply.

  70. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

    As an admin: Please, for the love of god(s), RESPOND TO THE CALENDAR INVITE. It’s a real waste of time having to chase down grownups!

  71. awesome3*

    I think the important context is that this was a one-on-one meeting. If it was a bigger meeting, I don’t think it would matter, but in this case the scheduler never found out if you were going or not. That’s weird that he canceled it though, maybe it was to clear up his own calendar since he hadn’t heard back from you?

    1. A Feast of Fools*

      And maybe it was to make a point since OP’s standard procedure is to not accept invites to meetings they plan to attend. The meeting was with a C-level person who for sure shouldn’t spend their time chasing underlings to verify if they’ll be at the meeting or not.

      I have done this with people in my company. Because I’m not going to spend a single minute preparing for a meeting where I might be the only person attending. If you don’t accept, then I won’t be there. I will politely and nicely explain why if you show up and I’m not there. This is for both in-person and Teams meetings.

    2. GNG*

      I don’t think it’s weird at all that he cancelled. In my organization, the C-Suite people are booked solid 4-6 weeks out, and have a huge waiting list of other people to meet and things they need to do. If I didn’t reply to their calendar invite, they’re definitely taking me off their calendar to make room for something else.

      It can also be that the colleague is sick and tired of OP’s habit of leaving people hanging, so he cancelled it just to show a natural outcome of not responding to people.

  72. HalloweenCat*

    All due respect to the letter writer and site rules but this. is. madness!!!
    If I sent someone a meeting request and never received any response, I would assume they weren’t coming. Though I would try to follow up before outright canceling.
    I have a higher up who takes this “no response = approval/acceptance” to emails and it has backfired more than once.
    There is a failure to communicate on both sides of this issue.
    If you respond, I know exactly what’s happening. If you don’t, I am left guessing.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Also based on the story it sounds like the LW was offline when the meeting got cancelled. So maybe the inviter saw the LW never responded, saw that she was offline, and then made the logical assumption the the LW was not available to take the meeting. And then just cleared his calendar.

      1. Fran Fine*

        That’s what I would assume. He had no way of knowing OP was on the way in before he cancelled – this is why it’s important to respond to invites, lol.

  73. Colorado*

    My office culture is to accept or decline (or propose new time) to a meeting and send response to meeting organizer. I would have also cancelled the meeting if there was no response.

  74. mreasy*

    I will check in with anyone who hasn’t accepted a meeting invitation ahead of time, and if I don’t hear back I’ll join (if a call) and wait a few minutes…but I wouldn’t travel somewhere for a meeting where I wasn’t sure the person was coming.

  75. Dona Florinda*

    I manage a team of 15 people, I simply don’t have the time to get in touch with each one of them to check if they’re going to show up to our meetings, so I assume your coworker has the same process. Either people accept and I can expect them, or they decline and we can try another time/ date. Please don’t leave people hanging, your coworkers should not have to track you down everytime.

  76. No User Name*

    If I was the organizer, I wouldn’t have assumed you’d be there just because you didn’t decline. I also would’ve checked with you first (maybe you didn’t see the invite?) – very odd that he didn’t.

  77. Cassandra*

    Please respond to the meeting invite. This avoids confusion or causing someone to waste their time tracking you down to ask if you are planning on attending the meeting.

    In my office, I have some folks who assume if they don’t accept then they are declining (or undecided), and others who assume if they don’t decline, then they are planning on attending. This means that someone then has to go around and ask folks who have not responded if they are actually attending or not. Which is kind of the point of having the Accept/Decline notification in the first place.

  78. Today's Special Anon*

    People who don’t actually manage their calendars drive me crazy! I once worked with a woman who had turned on the “automatically accept all meetings” option in Outlook…but that meant that she never actually looked at the meeting invites she got or her calendar! I scheduled a couple of meetings that she ghosted on before I learned this little gem, and I finally had to start checking with her before I scheduled some time, because her calendar was never up to date!

    So please please please start actually responding to your message invites! And don’t use the auto-accept function unless you hate all your coworkers.

    1. lobsterp0t*

      Oh wow!! That’s wild. I use that function but I also check each day for the next meetings I am in. I haven’t yet been caught off guard by this or missed a meeting. But I turned that on to minimise inbox time – as an ADHD hack. My calendar also auto declines when I have a clash.

  79. Paris Geller*

    Accepting a meeting invitation takes two seconds–I’m not sure why you wouldn’t do that if you were planning on attending? Even if’s not rude (which I think it is) it makes everyone’s job easier and also blocks out your calendar for that time so you don’t end up double booked.

  80. Handwashing Hero*

    Accept meetings for all the options stated above. But what no one else has mentioned is that you arrived at office at 9am? The meeting was supposed to start then?

    My guess was C-suite noticed you didn’t accept meeting, nor were you in the office 10 minutes before 9am (start of meeting) and cancelled since you were MIA.

    1. Broccoli*

      They say they arrived at 0900, not after. I’m more than happy to show up exactly at the start of a meeting and I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if anybody else did the same. If you want me to show up at 0850, set the meeting start to then.

      1. Happy*

        I agree. If you’re on time to the meeting, it doesn’t matter if you were at your desk or in your car 10 minutes prior.

    2. The vault*

      I’m often in the bathrooom/running through the door at 9, even if I have a meeting at nine. Id drop my stuff and get moving. It’s stressful, but not weird I dont think!

    3. Meeting Ghost (aka Letter Writer Today)*

      He cancelled at 8:45, so even if I was there 10 minutes early it wouldn’t have mattered. But I don’t think that it’s weird to come into the office and go straight into a meeting. Every Monday AM we have a department meeting and half of us still have our bags/coats still with us because we went straight to the conference room instead of our desks.

  81. Lacey*

    This is a weird one. I would have assumed that if you don’t hit accept you’re not saying you’ll be at the meeting. But also, if I didn’t hit accept for a meeting where someone needs to know if I’ll be there or not – I would expect them to check with me. What if I missed the invite? What if I hit accept but it didn’t go through? How odd to not just check!

  82. Properlike*

    Huh. I would assume you hadn’t seen the meeting invitation, and if it’s something we’d previously discussed, may or may not expect you to show up.

    Silence, consent, and all.

  83. A Feast of Fools*

    If I send you a meeting invite and you don’t respond one way or the other, how do I even know you received it / looked at it / know it exists??

    I have a staff member who I’ve had to “coach” several times to use the “Accept – Send the Response Now” reply option vs “Accept – Do Not Send Response” because the 2nd option not only doesn’t send an email letting the person know you’ve accepted but in the Tracking section of the meeting invite, it shows “None” for the response. So I still have no way of knowing if the person saw my invite and I have to waste time following up with them.

    1. Happy*

      You are doing everyone who will work with that person in the future a service with your continued coaching. :)

      1. A Feast of Fools*

        I said this on a reply above, but she only “got it” when I no-showed on the third meeting after I had told her to use “Accept – Send the Response Now.”

        She was actually a bit huffy about me not showing up but I said, “You didn’t accept, so I saw no reason to be there.”

  84. Broccoli*

    If that were me, I probably wouldn’t have cancelled unless I was insanely busy – but I’m not in the C-suite. Unless I was crazy busy, if I’d have noticed you hadn’t accepted (which I may not have done), I’d probably have gone to the meeting in a state of confusion and with the general hope that you’d show up too.

  85. IWishIHadAFancyUserName*

    In my office culture, I would not necessarily label you a jerk, but I would 100% presume that you either never saw the invite, or had been derailed by something more urgent. Our culture is such that we don’t waste time checking and re-checking with one another about scheduled meetings — that would be akin to sending an email, then calling someone on the phone to make sure they received the email. If someone didn’t respond to a meeting invite just because they couldn’t be bothered, well, in my office, that would definitely be considered disrespectful of others’ time.
    It’s probably in your best interest to respond one way or another to calendar meeting invites, in the same way that it’s probably in your best interest to use your turn signal on the roads — let others know your intentions ahead of time.

  86. Charlotte*

    Hah, I am trying to train people OUT of responding to the invite using the accept/decline feature because I have found it so unreliable (ie, I look at the list and it will say a bunch of people haven’t responded but they say they did accept the meeting). I am guessing this is because they aren’t necessarily using Outlook/in the same organization (volunteers, in this case). So I just request that everyone reply directly to me to let me know if they are coming. Of course, if I can see they marked the meeting as accepted or declined, I won’t chase them down for a reply, the issue is just that I can’t always see that for whatever reason.

  87. FD*

    I have definitely worked with a lot of very busy people where if I send an invite and don’t get a response, it meant that they likely wouldn’t be there. So I feel like that’s not an unreasonable interpretation.

  88. Anon for this*

    My Outlook Calendar doesn’t sync well between the home and the office, so I wouldn’t assume that a small meeting (as this appeared to be) was accepted or not and would follow-up by e-mail before cancelling.

    I often have more than one meeting on my calendar at a time, and will sometimes have to pick which one is most important at the last minute, based on agenda (which is often not provided until then.) So half my calendar is marked with meetings that have not been accepted, often overlapping each other. Where I work, at least at my level, that is more common than not. If you really need me there you need to reach out by phone, e-mail or Teams to let me know that. (Or to let my Admin know that – he is the final arbiter of what I attend when!)

  89. Essess*

    If it’s a one-on-one meeting invite that I send to you, and you don’t bother to accept or acknowledge it in any way, I have no way of knowing if you are going to show up. So that has locked up a section of my day that I don’t know if I could have planned other meetings at that time. That’s what the accept option is for, so that the other(s) in the meeting aren’t left wondering whether they have wasted a chunk of their day blocked off only to find out that you aren’t showing up. It’s basic office etiquette.
    When we have someone that is important to show up for the meeting, we need to know that they plan on attending. How would you like it if you sent out a text to your friend and said “hey, lets meet for to catch a movie tomorrow at 6pm”. Would you go sit at the theatre waiting for them if they haven’t bothered to acknowledge or agree to meeting you? Same thing in the office. People have many other things going on, so they need confirmation so that they aren’t sitting around not knowing if you plan to attend.

  90. Pigeon*

    Ugh, I had a coworker who operated like you OP, who never accepted meetings. I never knew if he was going to show up because he couldn’t take two seconds to confirm that he’d even seen the meeting notice! I felt like my time was constantly disrespected. And I really don’t understand the mentality behind not accepting when it takes no time at all to do it. “Tentative” means tentative– you might or might not be able to make it, full stop. “Accepted” means you will be there, full stop.

  91. The vault*

    Why not just accept it? It’s just a click of the button. I assume if someone doesn’t respond, that they missed the email invite, so I will follow up on it. I guess all work cultures are different, but I find it extremely odd to not respond and assume the person knows you have accepted.

  92. North Wind*

    I found this assumption so counter-intuitive, I had to read it a few times because my brain was trying to read it to be the situation I expected :). But I’m sure different offices have different norms.

    If I sent someone a meeting request and they didn’t accept, I would assume they were *NOT* coming to the meeting, and no response at all would honestly feel like flat-out being ignored. Or, ok, if not that strong of a slight just being lost in the shuffle of someone’s emails.

    The exception would be if we’ve verbally pre-arranged a meeting and the calendar invitation is just a follow-up. I have one client who never ever accepts my meeting invitations, but they are always sent after we have spoken and agreed on a time to meet, and he always shows up, so this is a norm with him.

  93. Purple Cat*

    This is wild, if you didn’t accept, why WOULD they assume you were going to attend the meeting?
    Thankfully my office culture is to accept if you’re attending, decline if you’re not, and you’re looked askance if you don’t respond at all.

    With a 1:1, I’d probably reach out directly to the individual before deleting the meeting, but I also don’t have time to waste chasing people down either.

  94. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

    I would be so, so stressed out if I were inviting the LW to meetings. Not knowing whether or not a meeting can go on as planned until they show up (or don’t! Who knows!) means not being able to plan around it as effectively.

    It’s one thing if you’re listed as optional, or if there’s clear reason for you to be optional. But if it’s a meeting that can’t productively happen without you and you’re unwilling to commit to showing up… yeah, that’s a problem for the organizer.

  95. Spearmint*

    I think I see the disconnect here between the “no response means you’re attending” and “no response means your not attending” crowd.

    At some offices (and all the ones I’ve worked at), meetings are scheduled and organized via email or verbally, and the calendar invite is sent out for the reminder/zoom link. The invite “makes it official”, but all the organizing was done beforehand, and once the invite goes out you need to actively decline if you can no longer make it. In this sort of culture, since everyone already agreed to the meeting before the invite was sent out, responding to the invite isn’t really necessary to confirm attendance, and “tentative” meetings on calendars are presumed to indicate the person is likely not available.

    In other offices (apparently?), people use invites exclusively to announce, schedule, and organize meetings. So if you don’t respond, it’s not obvious you even know the meeting is happening, let alone that you’re available. I’ve never been in an office like this, but it sounds like it’s common.

    I find this fascinating, because in my office, it would comes off as presumptuous to send an invite without discussing it beforehand. Sending an invite sends the message “I expect you to be here and am blocking off time on your calendar for it” in the culture of my office. Not saying one way is right or wrong, but it’s interesting to see the different cultures.

    1. KayDeeAye*

      Yeah, in my office, a meeting invite is just that – an invitation, not a summons. I (and just about everyone else, as far as I know) would feel perfectly comfortable sending an invite to anybody else in the company with the exception of the president, for whom you have to go through his executive assistant. But for everyone else, you send the invite, and they accept, decline or suggest something else, and that’s that.

      1. A Feast of Fools*

        Same. I send meeting invites to people across my [global] company who I’ve never met. I need info, they have it, let’s talk. If the CEO held specific info that no one else had, I’d send him a meeting invite (his admin would automatically intercept it, as she does all of his emails, but still…)

        If they aren’t the right person, they will either decline and suggest someone else or decline but forward the invite to the right person (say, someone below them who works with the data I need).

        It’s more effective than sending an email asking if they are the right person and would it be OK to put some time on their calendar. In my company culture, we prefer to skip that additional, time-wasting step.

    2. CTT*

      I’m in an office (and profession) culture of always responding to invites, and it’s not that no one’s discussing these meeting times beforehand – if anything, they are discussed to death. But everyone responds that they are attending because we understand that we all have a lot of meetings and if I am the organizer and see that only 3 out of 10 people have accepted, then I have to figure out if it needs to be rescheduled.

    3. Risha*

      I honestly hate discussing meeting schedules via email beforehand, other than in the vaguest of terms. (“We should have a separate meeting for this tomorrow.” “That’s fine, but I’m out of office in the morning.”) Why spend a half hour and 8 emails playing the proposed-time-no-how-about-this-no-how-about-this-no-how-about-this game via emails instead of, if everyone keeps their calendars up to date, simply have the organizer look at everyone’s time at once and pick a time? It’s so painfully pointless.

      1. HelloHello*

        I’m in a discuss meetings first office, and no one is playing the “what time works” game. One person says “hey, can we meet about X subject soon?” and the other person says “yes, sure thing. My calendars up to date so grab a time that works for you.” and then we go from there. It’s just easiest to send a quick “shall we meet” message first because it’s always possible there’s a very easy answer to the question or someone else is a better person to ask, and you can figure that out before you send a calendar invite rather than after.

        1. wendelenn*

          There have been a number of hilarious Dilbert strips about “pre-meeting for the pre-meeting for the meeting”.

    4. HelloHello*

      You nailed it here. The thought of someone putting a meeting on my schedule that they didn’t discuss with me first, unless it’s a mandatory org or team wide meeting, feels super presumptuous. And consequently, the thought of speaking to a person about a meeting, scheduling said meeting, and then them cancelling it without double checking with me just because I didn’t click the “yes I’m attending” button feels like a huge overreaction. But I suppose in an office where scheduling a meeting via calendar invite alone is the norm, not responding would cause problems.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        But you’re not putting the meeting on their schedule, you’re inviting them to it. How is that any different from emailing them and saying “Can you meet on Tuesday at 3 to discuss the new widgets?” You have the option to say “No, I’m not available then” just as you would have the option if they had emailed/called/stopped by your desk with that question.

        And why should the person have to expend their energy double-checking with you when you couldn’t expend two seconds to accept a meeting invite? You’re basically asking them to double their work so that you can avoid a simple thing.

        1. hellohello*

          If a calendar invite randomly shows up on my schedule it’s just going to confuse me, generally. Plus there’s every possibility the thing you want to discuss could be answered easily by slack or email, or I’m not actually the correct person to talk to about it. One message on slack asking if we can meet about X topic takes very little time, and lets me confirm the meeting makes sense to have or if I can help you in a more efficient way without having a whole meeting about it.

          I get there are offices where sending the invite is step #1 but that hasn’t been true in any office I’ve ever worked with, and to me it feels like an approach that will end up with a lot of unnecessary meetings happening.

        2. Tomato Frog*

          Re: your second paragraph, in the work environment where the meeting is established before the invite is sent, no one has to double check! You know they’re coming to the meeting unless they actively tell you otherwise. Taking the two types of workplaces as described by Spearmint, you’re applying a workplace type 2 scenario (you know if someone’s coming to the meeting if they accept the invite, therefore if a person doesn’t respond it’s causing trouble for the organizer) to a type 1 workplace (meeting invites are assumed accepted because they have already been verbally accepted, and declining has to be done actively).

        3. HelloHello*

          in my office you very much are putting the meeting on their schedule, though. Calendar invites aren’t sent for a “let’s see if this works” purpose but a “here’s the meeting we’re going to have” purpose.

          I do still confirm meetings (or rather, I have my calendar set to autoconfirm meetings and flag if someone is trying to double book me) but in every office I’ve worked in it would be odd to schedule a one on one meeting out the blue, and even odder to cancel a meeting you scheduled without checking with the person first.

        4. Nia*

          In my office an invite is not an invite, it’s a notification. An invite doesn’t go out until all parties involved have already agreed to have a meeting and agreed on a time for the meeting. All the invite is for is to get a reminder on the calendar. And if someone needed to reschedule they’d call or email the host directly because no one checks who has or has not accepted the invite.

    5. A Person*

      I’ve been in plenty of situations where the need and topic for the meeting is discussed in person or electronically, and then someone says “I’ll find a time that seems to work for everyone” and they send out the calendar invite. So then people have to specifically accept or decline because only they know if their calendar is up to date.

    6. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      Yes! This! I guess this is the disconnect. Sending invites without asking about times first annoys me no end, but I work for an insanely busy executive with multiple leadership roles. There is no way in my work I could just plop a meeting on a bunch of executives’ calendars and expect anything other than total chaos. The scheduling HAS to be done in advance because everyone is so busy, frequently the proposed time frame is at least 3-4 weeks before the actual date we find that works for everyone. I guess if it were a one-on-one, that would be different, but most of the meetings I schedule are across departments with 5-6 leadership folks who need to attend, and meeting plopping just doesn’t work for that.

    7. Bee*

      This is totally it. I’m in the “no accept means yes” camp and I’m realizing that’s because it’s really uncommon (and as you said, presumptuous) to get a meeting invite I’m not expecting or with no context. If I do receive (or send) out-of-the-blue meeting invitations, they always include a “Hi, hope you’re well, was wondering if we could connect on xyz. Please let me know if this time won’t work for you.” In which case, yes, it’s expected you’ll use the response feature.

      Also, another disconnect seems to be how meeting invites are handled in whatever system you’re using. For me, if I get a meeting invite it’s automatically on my calendar and my schedule shows as “tentative” to those in my company unless I decline (then obviously the meeting disappears from my schedule and time slot opens up). There’s no chance I wouldn’t know the meeting was happening; I live and die by my calendar as do most (good) employees at my org. In some people’s cases though, it seems that if they don’t accept it doesn’t show up in their calendar. In which case I would absolutely diligently accept anything I needed to attend and doing anything else would be madness :-)

  96. Olives*

    I definitely agree with everyone that you should be accepting meetings when you’ll attend (at least in the vast majority of offices). In general, I would find it odd to cancel a meeting for a no response without at least following up, but I think it’s super reasonable considering that you are both part time remote so the person had no idea if you saw the invite and were going to show up at the office. No response to an invite is especially unhelpful for 1-on-1 meetings or meetings where someone is requesting you to be on site for the meeting.

  97. Orange You Glad*

    I’m in the boat that you need to accept the invite otherwise it’s assumed you missed/ignored the invite. I think this is especially true while working from home. In the office, I could always stop by your desk to see if you are in that day and intending to come. At home, we have to rely on email and messaging and if you aren’t responsive, I’m going to assume you are not available or possibly not working that day/time.

    I am also big on keeping my availability up to date on my Microsoft calendar but I know not everyone at my company is as good with that. I do require it of my direct reports though.

    1. Orange You Glad*

      I’ll also add that it does seem extreme in the letter that the meeting organizer cancelling without reaching out first. A quick email or text to confirm would have cleared up the misunderstanding, especially since both were going out of their way to go to the office that day.

  98. Empress Matilda*

    Also! I want to answer your original question, are you a mega jerk for doing it this way. And the answer is, almost certainly not. It sounds like this wasn’t a critical meeting, and your colleague was only mildly inconvenienced at best – I don’t imagine he’s even still thinking about it at this point. Without any further context, I’m going to say you’re probably overthinking it!

    It’s worth taking note that most people here assume that if you don’t respond to a meeting invite, it probably means you’re not coming. And it’s probably worth changing your own behaviour in light of that. But don’t keep thinking of yourself as a jerk – take this as a lesson learned, and move on.

  99. Eh*

    I’ll be honest, I don’t understand how no response could be the same as a positive response. If that was the case, it wouldn’t be an invite. It would be something like “I expect all CSRs in the meeting room at X”. An order. Then it would make sense to only answer if this is a problem for you.
    I suppose I can see it happening in very specific work cultures, but there I would wait to be told that responding isn’t necessary. Don’t assume.

    Going forward, I would recommend responding. If it’s the system many of us use, it only takes one more second after you’ve read the message.

    I don’t agree with Alison that it means it’s been fine all along either. It’s entirely possible that people noticed, grudgingly accepted “this is how OP works” and roll their eyes. Not saying that’s definitely the case and I hope it’s not! I mean I wouldn’t rely on the silence of others to continue this practice. There are so many AAM letters where people hated something but didn’t say it.

    To be honest, my first thought was if colleague cancelling this way was to make a point about the invite. Especially if there was commute involved.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      ” If that was the case, it wouldn’t be an invite.”

      That could be part of the disconnect. “Invite” is what the email client uses – in many places, especially if you’re lower on the ladder, an “invite” certainly could be a “summons” in practice.

      1. Keeping It Anon*

        Excellent point. This was exactly my situation when I non-answered in the past. I was low on the food chain, so it was never a request. I was going to be there no matter what I had to rearrange. Plus, the meetings were large and could go on with or without me, I communicated immediately with my boss if I spotted a truly unavoidable conflict, and I also wanted to spare any extraneous “acceptance” notifications. This worked fine for a long time until it suddenly blew up, my boss clarifying that I actually WAS expected to respond. So from that point on, I did.

        Ultimately, I’m on Team There’s No Real Rule Here But Everybody in the Office Should Know the Conventions, and I don’t think the LW made some terrible faux pas.

        1. Eh*

          I understand those situations, where you’re new or low, but OP has been working for years, is senior staff, and does self-management. And this is one on one, not group.

      2. Eh*

        Oh absolutely. I’ve had jobs where that was the main type of meeting. But based on what OP’s saying, that’s not the kind of situation going on here. Unlikely through all the years too.
        In my experience, you know which kind of meetings you’re handling.

    2. Prefer my pets*

      Yeah….we have a handful of people who never respond and no one lower than them ever said anything to them but they are definitely viewed with irritation and have been the subject of more than one vent session when hours of others’ time was wasted by either not showing when we assumed they were doing their usual nonresponse thing or hunting them down because they were critical. We have a new manager who has decided the he WILL break his equals of this habit by doing exactly what this person did…if you don’t respond then he cancels your portion of the meeting/agenda. We’re all rooting for him!

      1. Fran Fine*

        There’s a VP at my company that does this to his own non-responding manager (a chief officer). If he schedules a meeting his manager needs to attend and he sees he hasn’t responded, if the CO doesn’t hop on the Teams call within five minutes, the VP hangs up and tells the CO to reschedule for a time that works better, lol. I have no idea how this is working out for him, but he’s been doing it since at least 2019 and hasn’t been fired, so CO must not think it’s a problem.

    3. Paris Geller*

      I definitely have rolled my eyes at previous coworkers who never responded to meeting invitations and never checked their email. It wasn’t a massive “can you believe so-and-so? They’re such a jerk!” response, but I definitely got annoyed.

  100. Boof*

    schrodinger’s meeting: a meeting that is neither accepted nor declined may or may not be happening. Whether it’s more or less likely to happen depends a lot on context.
    It’s odd to me your colleague canceled the meeting RIGHT BEFORE instead of asking – would have made more sense just to wait 15 min and see if you came, or ask “are we meeting”? rather than just canceling. But I also wouldn’t assume someone who hadn’t accepted a meeting would definitely show up, either, especially if it wasn’t something that had been definitely agreed upon by other means.

  101. Sue Wilson*

    So, if there’s an actual exchange, where everyone agrees on meeting time and place, and THEN a calendar invite is sent, I wouldn’t assume anything about response to the invite because from my view that is not a communication that is simply technological assistance for whoever needs it.

    Anything less than an actual exchange where time and place is agree upon, I think it’s rude not to respond if you’re coming, because the calendar invite is the communication.

  102. Mental Lentil*

    I had a one-on-one meeting scheduled at 9 am in the office.

    No, you did not. Accept means that you have a meeting scheduled; just leaving the invite in your inbox without asking on it could mean a million other things: didn’t see it, forgot about it, computer virus, abducted by aliens.

    Yes means yes. Anything else is a “no”.

  103. Clara*

    It’s possible that this is not your office culture, but that people have just accepted that you are someone who doesn’t respond to invites…and they may indeed judge you for that.
    A Director in my office doesn’t allow his diary manager to accept invites….she’s allowed to decline (if she knows it’s definitely something he won’t attend) or send a tentative response, and then he decides on the day which meetings he will go to.
    People know about his behaviour and accept it won’t change, but it’s still talked about and he’s very much considered a jerk for this approach. Now, it hasn’t affected is job as in he’s still in a senior position and still getting paid, but he is considered to be rude and I know that other Director’s do sometimes decide not to invite him to meetings because of his refusal to confirm whether he will attend or not.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Oh nooooooo. That’s so much worse. At least OP thought they were expected. What a jerk.

    2. Meep*

      I have a coworker who likes to schedule meetings then cancel at the last minute (like literally 30 seconds before the meeting) under the guise she is sooooooo busy so I get it. She also likes to pretend those meetings happened, but combined with her poor listening skills when it comes to words-spoken not being exactly how she imagines it, who knows. Maybe she did have that meeting with the voices in her head.

  104. Uncle Bob*

    I cannot fathom why someone couldn’t just accept the meeting rather than making everyone frustrated and wondering. It’s common decency – I don’t care where you work.

    1. Meep*

      I work for a small company so it is different, but a large part of why I don’t accept/decline meetings for a certain person is 99% time she cancels the meeting she initiated and then pretends we talked. It is just easier not to give her that paper trail so she can lie about it happening. Because she then cannot search for “when” we had that meeting. lol. (Checking her calendar is like climbing Mount Everest because it takes more than one click.)

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        That would drive me nuts! If she wants a paper trail, try sending her an email every time she cancels that says, “Hey, Jane – sorry you weren’t able to make the meeting today about the Smith account. Let me know when we could discuss X and Y. Love, Meep”.

  105. Queenie*

    If I read correctly, you are both primarily WFH with periodic on-site shifts. If that is the case, then yes you absolutely should have accepted the invite to confirm your attendance. ESPECIALLY for a one-on-one.

    That said, it would have been nice if Boss (or his assistant, if he has one) had looked ahead at his calendar, seen your lack of confirmation, and reached out to check rather than just deleting. So I can definitely understand why you interpreted the cancellation as “something critical popped up”.

    1. Guin*

      It is totally not on the boss to have to follow up. It is just plain rude of the LW to not respond at all. What boss has time to go chasing down their employees if he hasn’t heard from them?

  106. yllis*

    Please, please, please respond. As an admin in a higher education setting even though we all use outlook for email we have some people resistant to using the calendar, even saying it is part of academic freedom not to use it.

    But as the admin who has to find time and schedule these meetings so a majority can attend, it is so difficult when people just dont click accept or decline.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Sometimes I hear people say things about academia and just find myself staring slack-jawed at my screen for a minute

      1. yllis*

        Yes. I started in the private non academia sector and it has been……interesting these years with faculty.

        I have learned that there are some things they will present as academic freedom in order to not say the real reason of “But I dont _want_ to do it that way! I want to stick to my old comfortable way”

  107. Robert in SF*

    When I invite people to a meeting and they neither accept nor decline I’m going to assume that they’re not going to be able to attend the meeting because they haven’t even acknowledged the request. Sometimes I can’t check every meeting for every person to have excepted or declined well in advance enough to follow up with them and say are you coming to this meeting or not.

    Some people don’t send a response stating that “I don’t wanna bother people in their inboxes with an accept or decline message“, but I feel that is quite frankly a little bit rude and inconsiderate to not send your notification so the other person knows if you’re coming or not.

    I can’t make assumptions or remember everyone’s personal preferences on how they respond to meetings so I think there should be a standard response of decency that says you send your response of accept or decline so the other person knows that you saw the meeting recognize that it was sent and responded with their intent to come or not. Otherwise you’re leaving all the thinking on them

    1. PollyQ*

      I’m with y0u on the “send the response” bench. If the meeting organizer doesn’t want to see all those emails, they can set up a rule to deal with them, but I’m not going to make the decision for them that they won’t get an email at all.

  108. MissDisplaced*

    I schedule a lot of meetings. It is rude to not reply at all to invites unless you have an Out of Office response. No one knows what you’re doing!

    You should respond to meeting invites with the options: Accept, Decline, Tentative, or Propose New Time. If you don’t respond at all, you may not get schedule changes and miss the meeting or people might blow off the meeting because they’re not mind readers.

  109. Meep*

    I think it also depends on the person that you are having the meeting with.

    For example, I will accept meeting invites from my boss as he is an anxious person and will be worried you forgot. He is bad at accepting meeting invites and if he does, it is a sign he is going to be at least 15 minutes late but at least I know that.

    I won’t accept it from my one problem coworker because there is a 99% chance she will not show up to the meeting she scheduled and then pretend that we had it anyway so it is a waste of time. (The other 1% chance is usually her calling to tell me she has to cancel the meeting 30 seconds prior because she is “soooo busy” and then talking about it anyway. lol) She also likes to cancel meetings 2-3 minutes before they are supposed to start for group meetings.

    In her case, if she doesn’t accept the meeting I know it isn’t happening because she is that flakey and forgetful. In my boss’s case, I assume it is happening and carry on like the meeting is going to happen but he will be 15 minutes late. Anyone else, I assume the meeting is happening unless they explicitly tell me they cannot make it.

  110. Sara*

    My office relies on our calendars a lot since people travel, and not accepting a meeting would absolutely mean that you couldn’t make it or had a conflict or something. Why not accept the meeting?

  111. Architect*

    I once worked with someone who had their calendar automatically set up to “Accept” all meeting requests (with notice) and then wouldn’t actually show up to most of them, leaving me sitting in a room wondering if they were coming only to discover they weren’t even in the office that day. So just ignoring the message is at least a step above that because I’m probably going to assume you aren’t coming.

  112. RedinSC*

    I am on team – Accept your calendar invites.

    Everyone at work is busy (at least in my office) and if I schedule something, please DO NOT make me hunt you down to confirm that you are going to attend. If there are 10 people attending, and 3 haven’t RSVPd then I have to check in with them, make sure they’re coming, etc. It’s just so much more work that is really not necessary. It’s super easy to just say accept or decline for a meeting.

    I urge you, please, just help make work life easier for your colleagues and RSVP.

  113. RB*

    Just chiming in to say that I have the exact same understanding of meeting acceptance etiquette as the letter writer and it has served me well for many years. There are maybe a few minor exceptions but this is the norm.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I mean I don’t think you can look at this comment section and say it’s “the norm”. Workable, perhaps. Not causing you issues certainly. But not a social norm.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      I don’t think that’s the norm? Maybe the norm for your office, but definitely not the norm for most work places.

    3. Prefer my pets*

      No, it means no one has ever called you on it.

      Just like no one has said anything to the person who sings along to her headphones, or wears too much cologne, or snaps gum all freaking day… Most people don’t say anything to coworkers about their mildly (or even extremely) annoying habits and the higher you are in the organization the truer that is.

      1. itsame*

        some people are oblivious to their impact on others but that doesn’t mean you can assume the commenter here is obviously being rude and oblivious. I also have the same understanding of meeting etiquette as the LW and I’m quite certain it is not causing my coworkers issues because 1) I am not getting stood up at meetings I assumed were happening despite the other person not clicking “accept” 2) I’ve never had a boss mention any issue with meeting attendance 3) many of my coworkers also either don’t or only occasionally officially respond to calendar invites.

        Our workplace runs just fine because invites automatically get added to your calendar unless you specifically decline, everyone is expected to keep their calendars up to date and keep an eye on when they have upcoming meetings, and no one schedules one on one meetings without mentioning it to the person first, so you know they know a meeting is upcoming.

    4. Fran Fine*

      It’s the norm in your workplace, but as you can see from the overwhelming comments here that say the opposite, it’s certainly not best practice everywhere.

    5. Software Dev*

      Haha same. But I have also learned from reading this thread that a lot of people use Outlook, which works differently than google calendar, ie it blocks off the time unless you actively declined, effectively assuming you’re going.

      And admittedly most of my meetings are pre-scheduled, ie, weekly or bi-weekly or discussed beforehand and then an invite is sent. Maybe when I had to work with clients I accepted meeting invites but now I rarely do and no one is confused.

    6. TechWorker*

      Me too, clearly a very unpopular opinion :)

      (I have done some mental calculations and given I also schedule loads of meetings and get very few responses back – but still manage to have many productive meetings where people do infact show up, I think I’m good).

  114. Jennifer Strange*

    Yeah, I don’t see how no response = accept? If you haven’t said you’re going to be there I have no way of knowing if you will or not!

  115. Blinded By the Gaslight*

    I can’t imagine my boss or co-worker sending me a meeting invite, and I just . . . neeeeever respond to them. How hard is it to just click “Accept” so the organizer knows you’re coming? Otherwise, look at all the time wasted, confusion, and potential for people to make assumptions about you, your professionalism, whether you care about the meeting topic, etc.

    Just accept, decline, or propose a new meeting time, jeez . . .

  116. idwtpaun*

    Nope, OP, for me a meeting invite that hasn’t been accepted means that person is not attending. They may not be attenting because they haven’t yet figured out their schedule or because they didn’t see an invite/forgot about it, but if I’m the organizer and this person’s status is pertinent to the meeting, I will be following up with them until I get an answer one way or another.

  117. LANY*

    Didn’t look through the comments so no idea if someone made this point… but to me, ignoring the invite and assuming its a “yes” by not responding is akin to getting an invitation to a wedding, throwing out the response card, and then wondering why there’s no seating card for you when you show up…. because “shouldn’t they just assume it’s a yes?”

    For the life of me, I cannot understand why you would assume that no response is a yes. Everywhere I’ve ever worked (large tech companies, major consulting firms, the clients of these companies, a 20 person firm, a major bank) the assumption is that if you don’t reply you aren’t attending.

    1. Blinded By the Gaslight*

      YES! Exactly! In no other situation is silence to an invitation understood to be “I’ll be there!” So bizarre . . .

    2. itsame*

      It’s because not all offices treat calendar invites as actual invitations. Some places they are treated as essentially just the logistics coordinators. You agree to a meeting with someone, then the calendar invite is there to reserve a time and share the meeting location/zoom link. In that case, not responding is like if your friend says “hey, can you come to my wedding?” and you say “yes” and then they send you a card with the date, time and venue on it. Which isn’t how weddings typically work but is how some offices function.

  118. TotesMaGoats*

    It costs you nothing to accept/decline calendar invites. As I often schedule meetings, it’s very important to me to know who can and can’t make it. I assume if you don’t accept that you won’t be coming and I’ll want to know why. Did the time not work? Can we reschedule so you can attend?

    I had a same level colleague. Same title and within the same department. He never accepted invites and it was one of the many, many things that made him disliked. You never knew he was coming.

  119. photon*

    I think clarity is valuable.

    “Yes” is unambiguous. “No” is unambiguous. Why leave room for ambiguity?

    If it’s a big presentation meeting with 100+ people, where your attendance doesn’t matter and you’re genuinely not sure if you’ll attend, sure, don’t respond. But a 1:1, a team meeting, a working session, anything like that is worth a clear message. It’s courteous to all those involved.

    1. not that kind of Doctor*

      You can also respond “tentative.” That way at least people know you’ve seen it.

  120. Work Sux*

    It totally 100% irks me when people don’t respond to meeting requests. Yes, if I get no Accepted responses, I’ll cancel/reschedule on the assumption the non-responders won’t show. This is because in my experience, sometimes a non-responder will show up anyway, other times that same non-responder won’t show up, and won’t bother with a simple message to say that, leaving me delaying the start of the meeting wondering if they’ll show or not. So yes, it is a jerk move to not respond.

    I got a nastygram from a director once, who was notorious for never responding, but inconsistently showing and not showing. You never knew if he’d show up for a meeting. Well, all these unreplied meeting invites were leaving “tentative” blocks on his Outlook calendar, and when he realized this, he sent us all a nasty email telling us to learn how to use calendar items properly because we were blocking up his calendar! All he had to do was respond with a “decline” and the item would no longer be on his calendar. But it was US who were doing it wrong. Pfft.

      1. Work Sux*

        Yup, exactly. He was very hostile, everything’s a crisis, had no problem berating and yelling at people in the middle of the office in front of everyone else. Not someone you could provide constructive feedback to. Happily, he left!

  121. Amethystmoon*

    I thought Outlook automatically accepted meeting invitations. At least, it does where I work. You have to actively decline or mark tentative if the answer is otherwise.

    1. ele4phant*

      I mean, for my outlook settings, the invite comes in like an email and you can just…do nothing. Read it and move on to another email without hitting accept, tentative, or decline.

      Then it’s tentatively on your calendar but the person that sent you an invite doesn’t get a reply back that you’ve accepted (or declined).

  122. Evonon*

    As an admin, if I set up the meeting I’ll confirm 24-48 hours in advanced with all parties (after confirming with my boss). Often people won’t accept my invite which is fine, they typically show up but I always confirm regardless.

  123. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    I’m incredibly confused as to why you wouldn’t accept? It’s one click that saves everyone time and your response can be edited if things change.

    I’m sure it depends on the office, but I view non-responses as, “Maybe but don’t count on it.” Like, I’m not going to wait for someone who didn’t respond to start a meeting if others are involved.

    If it’s just one or two people, though, I’d definitely message before cancelling anything.

  124. ABBBBK*

    OP, you’re getting some hate in the comments, so I”m going to chime in and say that I behave just like you. I forget to respond to meeting invites that I’m planning to attend. I get A LOT OF MEETING INVITES! And honestly, I”m not so important that anyone cares. If I can’t make it, I’ll decline to get it off the calendar. But for a lot of meetings, including 1:1s, the other person won’t even know that I didn’t respond unless they go into the tracking tab and actively look. Why would they do that? If I can’t make it, I’ll decline and get it off both of our calendars.

    Why am I like this? I don’t care or notice that my calendar events have little lines through the side indicating that i haven’t responded.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      Why do you only forget to respond to meetings that you’re planning to attend? If you can remember to decline a meeting, you can remember to accept a meeting. And a person will go into the tracking tab and actively look because they want to confirm that you’ll be there! And it’s not a matter of how important you are; if I’ve sent out a meeting invite I want to make sure everyone can attend, regardless of “importance”.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Thank you. I mean…this logic still doesn’t compute to me.

        And challenging someone’s wrong assumption is not “getting hate,” @ABBBBK.

        1. TechWorker*

          But a) it may be a totally valid assumption for their work culture so saying it’s ‘a wrong assumption’ is already assuming a lot and b) there’s looooads of comments about how incredibly rude it is to do this. Which *shrugs* maybe ‘hate’ is a strong word but it’s clearly unpopular…

          1. Fran Fine*

            The assumption was wrong for the OP’s situation because the C-level executive she was supposed to meet with clearly didn’t get the memo that this is how the office works, so it probably doesn’t and is just a quirk of the OP’s and the people closely in her orbit.

      2. ABBBBK*

        Accepted and not rejected invites remain on my calendar. So i’m planning on going. If I’m not going, I take them off my calendar by rejecting it. Never been a problem for me. No one has reached out asking for confirmation or not shown up because I didn’t accept. And I believe that others also have this habit. But, again, I’m not going into the tracking tab to check every damn meeting, I just assume that people will clear their calendars of unwanted meetings when relevant, and I’ll be notified if that’s the case.

        1. ABBBBK*

          In fact, I know that people leave meetings hanging a lot in my workplace as a way of indicating that their calendars are super booked and they’ll make it if nothing else pops up (even for 1:1). It’s also common for people to move meetings 5 mins into the scheduled time, move a meeting many times, just not show up, etc. People’s calendars are packed with back to back 30 min meetings all day long, so calendar hygiene is lax.

        2. Jennifer Strange*

          That doesn’t answer my question though about why you’re able to remember to decline invitations, but claim you can’t remember to accept them. It’s the same action.

    2. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

      I go into the tracking tab to make sure all major players are attending, and again once a meeting starts to make sure there aren’t any stragglers. If I’m able to delay a couple of minutes to make sure we don’t start without anyone who confirmed I will, but anyone who I don’t have a response from doesn’t get that courtesy because I have no idea if they intend to come or not.

  125. Tomato Frog*

    Interesting to read the replies and see how much this varies (and how many people are so sure that their way is the right way, tch). In my office, meetings are set verbally before you share the calendar invite, the calendar invite is basically only to share the Zoom link since we started working remotely. It would be SO strange at my workplace to cancel a meeting based on someone not responding to a calendar invite, I would honestly not know what to make of it.

    1. A Person*

      I worked somewhere once where the norm was to just put yourself onto someone’s calendar, and they would actively decline if it was a problem. (It was a very high-collaboration workplace and that probably was a factor. I guess it was the electronic version of stopping by someone’s desk and they’d tell you if they were too busy to talk right then.) I had such a hard time with that! But it worked in that workplace so I adapted.

  126. Bee*

    I guess I’m in the minority! I usually accept but not always, even if I intend to be there. Generally I am better about accepting if it’s a 1:1, though. On the flip side, I assume someone who hasn’t accepted and hasn’t declined will show up, and about 85% of the time, they do.

    At my company, an invite you haven’t responded to will still show the time as “tentatively scheduled” in your calendar so most people don’t book over it, or at least ask if you’re flexible at this time.

  127. ele4phant*

    Hmm, I think you need to accept calendar invites to definitively communicate that yes – you plan to attend.

    This is not just for the benefit of the meeting organizer, but by accepting it solidifies on your calendar instead of showing as tentative, so anyone else looking at your schedule trying to find time will be clear whether or not you are available.

    But yeah – I would also bug someone first if they hadn’t responded one way or the other. I do get people get busy and sometimes forget to work down their email, so I’d check before outright cancelling.

  128. Rick Tq*

    Contrary to your assumption, Silence does not imply Consent to attend a meeting… Get used to actually hitting the Accept button instead of just going to the next message in your queue.

  129. I’m just too busy to respond*

    If the meeting organizer’s time is more valuable than the OP’s then I could see why the organizer cancelled the meeting. He had no idea if the OP would come and he doesn’t have the ADDITIONAL time to send an email asking if OP is coming. That’s what the meeting software is FOR. To avoid extra communication: “Are you available? Are you?” I’ve noticed in the comments that most people who don’t reply tend to be someone’s boss or higher up in the company. It seems to have a bit of a power play aspect to it. “I just never respond. I’m above all that.” It drives everyone else crazy & is demoralizing. Maybe that’s the point. But if so, it’s a jerk move.

  130. Checka*

    For me if it is a group meeting or meeting that does not need my active participation I may leave it not accepted but it leans towards not attending. If it is 1:1 and with c level, why leave it vague as not accepting? Time is valuable and meeting consumes time in your day and well c level’s time is usually more expensive. Once again everyone can operate with a different norm and culture but if it js specifically 1:1 with senior(than you) manager then I would be more diligent about my and their time.

  131. Dasein9*

    Having been raised on the East Coast, I have noted a phenomenon I call “Midwestern Silent No.” Midwesterners don’t like to say no, so they say nothing. Ergo, a meeting unaccepted would be a meeting declined.

  132. Ex Girl Friday*

    I’ve worked in several admin/executive assistant roles where I was responsible for managing calendars and setting up meetings- non responders have always made my job a little harder. Depending on the manager, I would often be asked to follow up with them. Sometimes it would be tough to figure out which conference room to put the meeting in because I had no idea how many attendees would be there. I’ve overbought food for meetings where non-responders who I assumed would show up did not.

    In short, it’s not tough to click “yes”, “no”, or “maybe” and it’s considerate to do so.

    That being said, I think OP’s coworker was kind of passive aggressive in how he handled this. There’s no reason why he couldn’t have checked in before canceling.

    1. Fran Fine*

      The OP’s “coworker” is C-level – OP is not. I would not expect C-suite execs to be chasing down people for meetings, so his cancellation is in-line for his position.

      1. Chickaletta*

        Agreed, but….he took the time to cancel the meeting which isn’t a C-level task either (it’s really an admin’s job), and since he is managing his own calendar it would have taken him literally ten seconds to shoot an email confirming if it was on.

        This is one of those things where an executive assistant would have prevented this type of mix up. I’m an EA and this type of stuff is exactly what I do.

        I agree with Ex Girl Friday that non-responders do make my work more challenging. I spend unnecessary time asking people if they’re going to actually be at a meeting or not because they didn’t take two seconds to click Yes or No.

        1. Napkin Thief*

          In the same token though, while sending a follow up email would be quick, he would still have been stuck in limbo waiting for a response, as opposed to just moving on to something else.

  133. TootsNYC*

    If I don’t get an answer either way, I assume you haven’t seen the invitation.
    And therefore I’d assume you aren’t going to be there.

    Which is not quite the same thing as you actively declining.
    I might cancel the meeting in order to clear it off my calendar.

    I would never not “accept” a meeting from someone, especially not a C-suite person!
    For that matter, if I saw the invite from someone, especially someone high up, I would absolutely respond.

  134. TH*

    Wow people are passionate about this! I’m going with Allison though – if OP’s workplace operated like some of the ones above, where people assume you’re cancelling if you don’t click accept, then surely this would have come up before. Different offices have different norms! At my office shared calendars aren’t a big thing (so it doesn’t matter if your time shows up as free or booked based on invites), and meetings are generally arranged via email or chatting, with the Outlook invitation just acting as a Zoom link vessel after we’ve agreed on a time. If someone cancelled a one on one meeting just based on an Outlook invitation non-response, it would be super weird. Especially doing it 15 min beforehand – why not just wait 15 min and see if they show up? It’s so close!

    Anyway, OP it sounds like you are trying to be thoughtful and considerate of your coworkers and this was just a mix up. Maybe it would be helpful to poll some folks you trust to see how they feel about this in this specific office – maybe everyone has their own assumptions going on and is assuming everyone else feels the same way!

    1. Flower necklace*

      I’m a teacher and no one shares calendars. I occasionally get calendar invites, but no one checks if there’s a response. I actually just (intentionally) failed to respond to an invite the other day. It was sent at the last minute and I wasn’t sure if I could get coverage. I wanted the email in my inbox as a reminder and so I knew who to contact in case I couldn’t make it.

      But it’s a school. Almost all of my meetings are arranged in person or via email. And we’re all in the same building – if someone is really needed for a meeting, it’s not hard to hunt them down.

    2. ele4phant*

      Clearly this varies, but I work at a place where we all have lots of meetings, internal and external. We’re all still remote, but even before then we are spread all over the country. We use calendar invites to communicate about meetings, verbal obvisouly not an option and doing it by email would be redundant. Your calendar invites show up in people’s email inboxes, so…just do that.

      Calendar hygiene is super important at our org. If I want to schedule a client meeting and include a Principal but their day is full of tentative appointments – are they actually unavailable that whole day, or can I get some time in somewhere? One can ask, but if people just do their best to keep up on their calendar, you make life easier on others by not giving them the errand of making you clarify your availability.

    3. Rosy*

      I’m fully in the same boat as you (and OP), and I feel bad for them that the comments are being so…harsh. This is absolutely the way that it works in my office and it’s not rude or inconceivable or inconsiderate. Just different norms.

      1. TH*

        Yeah I agree! I feel like everyone is assuming all workplaces must use calendars in the same way and that is obviously not true. OP is clearly trying to be thoughtful toward their coworkers – they wrote to Allison to check their assumptions! I feel bad they’ve received 500+ comments about how they’re inconsiderate etc. No one would be judging them for this in my workplace.

    4. Meeting Ghost (aka Letter Writer Today)*

      Thanks folks on this thread! A few harsh comments but I’m here for it! Everyone operates differently. But, 90% of why I wrote in was because I thought it would be interesting to see how other people operate. I’m seeing the full spread, but it 1000% depends how your office culture works – do you talk about meetings beforehand over email and the calendar is just a logistic, is it a meeting heavy culture or is a meeting a big deal, etc.

  135. TootsNYC*


    Please send back the RSVP card to the wedding invitations you receive.
    They’ve done you the favor of providing the paper, the envelope, a stamp (usually) and even the words.

    Also–if your friend has invited you to a social event, give them a definite yes or no.

  136. MAC*

    This reminds me of a co-worker who, despite being a highly educated scientist with decades of work experience, apparently did not understand how Outlook meeting requests worked because he complained that “people were breaking into his computer and adding meetings to his calendar without his permission.”

  137. Empress Ki*

    I am annoyed with people who don’t accept or decline a meeting. Am I expected to read their mind ? It takes about 2 seconds to click on accept or decline.

    1. Meeting Ghost (aka Letter Writer Today)*

      I do handle them differently! And very conscientiously actually! So this is just a Weird Thing About Work.

  138. Middle Name Jane*

    This is one of my pet peeves. Accept a meeting, decline a meeting, whatever. Don’t just let it sit there and assume the meeting organizer can read your mind.

  139. ele4phant*

    I will say – this mix up doesn’t sound like a big deal to the other person.

    You say yourself the meeting wasn’t time sensitive, and if they really needed to meet with you sooner rather than later, they probably would’ve poked you again to get confirmation or reschedule. They didn’t, so…I don’t think they minded and were just trying to clear out their calendar, then were surprised to see you.

    So I wouldn’t stress over this. But, going forward, never hurts to just hit that accept or decline button to be super clear about your intentions.

  140. Amy*

    This comment section is fascinating to me, as I am a notorious non-replier to meeting invites. I’ll try to defend my reasoning a bit here (since a lot of people are saying they don’t understand why I wouldn’t respond) but I do want to note that seeing this overwhelming furor against non-responders is making me reconsider my practices and I will try to respond more in the future!

    1) It’s definitely partly technology – by default, if you accept a meeting, Outlook will delete the meeting invite from your inbox; but often, meeting invites contain valuable information that I want to be able to search for later. I have changed this setting in Outlook so it no longer deletes them, but I can’t change the setting in the mobile app so I don’t like to respond from there, and then I’ll have forgotten by the time I’m next on my computer. Additionally, some folks were mentioning that they have to accept or else it doesn’t show up on their calendar, but that is not the case in my organization – a tentative (non-responded) meeting does show up on your calendar and it seems it is the culture at my office to treat those as possible meetings, because I never have anyone schedule things over all the meetings on my calendar which are technically “tentative” because I’ve never accepted them.
    2) I think it’s also partly in my case due to my job – I am a consultant who works with clients, and generally on only 1 project at a time or maybe 2. So like 90% of my meetings are either scheduled by me because I’m setting it up with the client, or the client sends over a meeting invite that I have to attend. So the client isn’t worried about me not attending, because they know it’s literally my job to be at their meetings.
    3) A combination of technology and my job – because so many of my meetings are with external clients, they can’t see my RSVPs anyway unless I use the “send reply” option, and they also can’t see my calendar availability. So we’re already used to not relying on those things with one another and scheduling meetings either based on shared knowledge of availability or asking ahead of time if someone can make it.
    4) All of the above are reasons why I might not do it/why it might not matter as much in my job, but the fundamental reason is just habit – I’ve never made it a process to always click a response, and it hasn’t caused me issues so far, so it doesn’t even occur to me that I should be responding to invites.

    Finally, in my defense, I do usually respond if it’s a 1:1 meeting with someone or if it’s an out of the blue invite where they wouldn’t be certain if I could attend and would want to make sure I’m there. If someone ever asked for RSVPs I would respond as well but I’ve actually never seen that done – more evidence that my office is maybe one of the cultures where not responding is fine. But as I said, you’ve all made me re-evaluate and I will try to respond to more invites going forward since apparently it’s likely that at least some of the people I work with are pissed at me about this haha.

    1. ele4phant*

      I don’t quite understand your point one. Everything in the invite stays with it when you accept, and you can search your calendar just like your emails to find it.

      But anywhoo – definitely seems like you are more of a single-shingle person who does a lot of the organizing of scheduling, so I think your habits are less disruptive and confusing than say – someone mid-level in a big organization that has a lot of internal interactions.

      1. Happy*

        When Outlook automatically delete invites, you can lose info if people later modify or cancel the meeting notices.

        Sometimes it’s also helpful to be able to search your inbox and catch info in calendar notices instead of having to search your calendar.

        Like Amy, I changed my Outlook settings so that it saves them, but it can be quite an inconvenience to lose that info.

    2. Bee*

      This makes me feel better about my own non-replies haha. Maybe it’s a consulting thing – it’s pretty common in my workplace that a “no response” should NOT be considered a “decline;” more likely, it’s actually an “Accept.” I’m on at least one meeting a day where someone is listed as “No response” and they show up anyway.
      If someone critical isn’t going to be there or they’re going to be late, they’ll decline or send a note ahead of time saying they’ll be delayed.
      I also never got in the habit of accepting every single meeting because I didn’t see other people doing it, *shrug* I definitely accept if it’s a 1:1, or a meeting where my presence is absolutely required (like the meeting won’t run without me). But otherwise I often don’t respond and just show up. Basically if I don’t decline, I’ll be there.
      I think some of that stems from the fact that sometimes I get a LOT of meeting invites at once from one person (like a project manager), and I don’t want to flood their inbox with “Bee accepted the invite.” And I was never sure if Accepting without “sending a response” shared any information at all with the organizer so… why bother?

      1. ele4phant*

        I work in consulting too, and as a project manager, I would prefer my reports accept my invites.

        Don’t worry about my inbox, that’s my problem to manage, and if I send you something, I am expecting you to respond. I have the discretion to adjust my own email settings if I find a flood of “So and so accepted” to be a problem.

        Also, because we have multiple projects going on at once with different teams, it’s helpful to others to know when you truly are or are not available. Staring at a day packed full of “tentative” meetings is super frustrating if I am trying to schedule a client call and I’m unsure if my team is available or not.

        Even if you are low on the totem pole and your attendence doesn’t really matter, one day it will, so doesn’t hurt to get in the habit of just accepting.

        I can see there are other workplaces than mine that have different expectations and norms and it seems to work okay, but I dunno, the burden of just accepting an invite to be super clear about your intentions is worth it.

        1. Bee*

          I appreciate that perspective! After reading this thread I’m definitely going to be more diligent about my acceptances, ha. I think I have a reputation for always showing up though (can’t recall ever missing a meeting without adequate notice in almost a decade) so I hope I’m not giving my PMs too many headaches; they know they can count on me :-)
          Your point about a trying to schedule on a calendar full of tentative time slots is well-taken, too… that sounds like a nightmare. I never have more than a few of those per week (I’m not a serial non-responder, I swear!) but, something I hadn’t fully considered before.

          1. ele4phant*

            Even just a few tentative appointments during the week might be challenging to deal with when scheduling.

            If you’re trying to schedule a team meeting or a meeting with the client that needs to include the relevant folks from our end, there may be few windows open between everyone. So, if I see a potentially viable window but one person has a tentative appointment, I’m then left to ask them to clarify – are you actually busy during this time or can I bump it?

            Honestly this *is* more of a problem with leads than with the people that report to me, as a) they have more packed schedules, and b) I can usually move forward without associates if need be, but if the lead needs to be there, I need to be clear on when they are available.

            BUT, it’s about getting into the habit of it so one day, when you are that person with the packed schedule and required attendance, you’ll already be well versed in keeping your calendar up to date.

            Which while we’re on it – please make sure other people can see your appointments (as is, can see what the title is). For any personal appointments, mark those private but otherwise have your calendar defaulted so people to see your work obligations. That does help me say – hey I can see you have an internal meeting for another one of your projects, but the client on our shared project would also like to meet that time, can you reschedule your internal one?

  141. It’s one click*

    Dude, accept the meeting request. It’s one click and it saves a lot of hassle and confusion! What if the meeting is catered? What if the meeting is in person and needs to find the right sized room to accommodate everyone? What if they’re planning a discussion around your work or need your input and your lack of response throws the whole thing into doubt? What if they’re waiting to invite other stakeholders but don’t know if they can because you haven’t responded? This isn’t just about you. This is very selfish and very avoidable. You wasted that person’s time and caused a problem. If someone sends a meeting request they send it for a reason. They need and deserve an answer. You can even choose tentative if you don’t know yet! And it blocks that that time in your diary so nothing else comes in over the top.

    Of all the posts I’ve read on AAM for some reason this is the one that has driven me the most crazy.

  142. AnonInCanada*

    To be honest, if the meeting organizer didn’t get the calendar invite within a few days/hours of the meeting (depending on when it was scheduled and when the meeting is) I would be following up to make sure the other(s) involved actually got the notice of the meeting. Presuming “no confirmation = unable to attend” is not a viable way of structuring things. Maybe the invite got lost in an email avalanche – that happens to me periodically, not often, but not never either.

  143. not that kind of Doctor*

    If someone doesn’t respond to a meeting invite I assume they either haven’t seen it or don’t know how to use Outlook. (I had a new hire this spring for whom this was definitely the issue.) For small meetings I would poke anyone who didn’t answer; for non-critical or especially busy people, I would assume they are not coming.

    A serial non-replier to small or critical meetings would be a problem for me. If you can’t be bothered to confirm via Outlook please do it some other way; don’t make me poke you every single time. (And yes, I’ve had words with a couple of my employees about it. They got better.)

  144. twocents*

    NGL, I’m fascinated by the people that think a senior leader C-suite executive should have followed up. I assumed that would be pretty universal: someone senior to me, much less C suite level, shouldn’t have to chase me down. Ever.

    1. GNG*

      Same here. Maybe some of the people who think that haven’t had a lot of experiences being scheduled to meet with C-suite execs?
      Where I work, it’s a courteous to follow up with a peer. But with senior execs, I would fully expect to be removed from their calendar without warning if I didn’t respond to their meeting invite. Or, I would at least expect their EAs to admonish me for not accepting.

  145. TechWorker*

    Lots of strong opinions here – it’s good to know that if I move workplaces I should prepare for a potentially different culture. Where I work it is totally normal not to accept meetings, they go on the calendar by default & generally either a) the meeting is organised by someone more senior or is on some critical topic and you attend by default or b) the meeting is agreed as necessary by a bunch of people beforehand (over email say) and so there’s already been discussion that it’s happening. I do of course let the organiser know if I can’t attend or have a clash.

    All the people saying this responding with accept takes NO TIME – it’s not quite true is it? That feels a little like saying you should always be able to read and respond to all of your emails in an hour or something… it’s going to be true for some roles and not for others. Sometimes I get meeting invites very late on and the first I know about it is the outlook 15min warning :p because I’ve been in meetings for the 3 hours up to that point… it works ok.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      But your situation is different than what the OP stares. This wasn’t a last minute meeting, the other person cancelled the meeting at the last minute because he thought op wasn’t available. I agree that you shouldn’t have to worry about last minute meetings but if it’s for the next day or later you should at least put tentative.

      And big group meetings are different than one on ones.

    2. ele4phant*

      I mean it takes no time if you are reading the email invite, the button is right there. Also, I don’t think most people want a response within an hour of you receiving the invite – but they probably would want a response shortly before the meeting is to occur.

      It seems like your organization is just fine with how this is handled, so carry on, just be aware that if you move jobs there may be an expectation that you give an explicit RSVP sometime before the meeting is actually scheduled to happy.

  146. I'm just here for the cats!*

    Please just respond to the calendar invite.
    It’s one click and it makes everyone’s life easier.

    This last month I’ve had to make several appointments on behalf of my my team members and it’s if someone doesn’t have something in their calendar and is not available im just guessing if your available or not

    If you won’t know for sure put tentative and check back later.

  147. Megain*

    I have a feeling OP is also the one who schedules zoom meetings through zoom and just copies the link into an emails, rather than using the zoom plugin for any e calendar. In the former I have to create the invite and copy the link into calendar. I’m the latter, all the information is there in the calendar invite.

  148. NopityNope*

    I’m a bit surprised by both the question and the response. Why in the world would you rely on other people’s *assumptions* around calendaring? And why would you force someone (and in this case, someone a level above you) to chase you down to confirm? I think it’s more an individual preference than any kind of organizational/departmental/team norm, and why would you put the onus on your co-workers to remember what your preference is? And what’s the real benefit of just not responding? So you saved yourself and the other attendee(s) two seconds. How does that stack up against the time you spent on an unnecessary commute/ waiting in vain for someone to show / exchanging calls or emails to confirm non-responses?

    If you don’t respond to an invitation, some people will think you are coming, some will think you aren’t. Personally, I would think you didn’t see the invitation or remember our conversation, which would result in an email exchange and more inbox clogging than a simple accept/decline.

    Other people have mentioned additional problems with the accuracy of your availability, etc., all of which I’ve also encountered as well.

    There’s such an easy solution: Just manage your invitations by accepting/declining. Problem solved. What are you really gaining by not being willing to click a button?

  149. tink*

    I don’t always RSVP to our large monthly meetings that have multiple instances because I’m not always sure which one I’ll be able to attend, although I do try to at least mark “Maybe” and switch the ones I don’t attend to “No” later. But for small meetings or meetings with a limit I always RSVP.

  150. ele4phant*

    I do want to address the comment that seems to be coming up of “I don’t want to flood someone else’s inbox with a response email” in general, don’t worry about other people’s inboxes. There are tools to manage inboxes we can all use if we find the volume to be a problem, and if someone sends you something that requests a response, respond.

  151. Asenath*

    This must vary from place to place, but in the many, many meetings I have set up where I worked, I must have a confirmation from each attendee. I discovered the hard way that the way things worked was that people simply didn’t turn up if they hadn’t confirmed that they would. I could not send out meeting invitations and assume that people would show up unless they told me otherwise.

  152. Raida*

    If you intend to attend a meeting, just accept the invite.
    If you do not intend to, decline.
    If you don’t know, tentative.

    no response at all, in my office, means nobody knows and if it’s important for you to attend then someone has to chase it up to make sure.

    There’s explicit buttons in calendars, just use them.

  153. sb51*

    The only time I leave one hanging intentionally is when someone sends a meeting invite with a ton of prework — read this document etc etc. And all of that is *in the invite*, not in a separate email, so if I want to keep it at the top of my inbox, I have to not accept it until I’ve moved the prework into some other tracking system. Please, please, send the invite with any links but then ALSO send the instructions separately, because once I’ve accepted it it’s gone off to the land of the calendar, where I just assume I show up until the notification pops up and I have 5 minutes to read an entire spec document…

    1. Anonomatopoeia*

      Friend, I’m going to try and do you a help here. Unless your Outlook is set up differently to mine somehow, those vanished emails go to the deleted email folder, where you can go open them right back up and move them to another folder of your choice. My usual approach for this is to put them in a folder and then drop a time on my calendar to go check the blah blah folder.

      1. Happy*

        In Outlook you can also go file > options > mail > send messages

        And then uncheck “delete meeting requests and notifications from my inbox after responding”

        Then Outlook won’t delete them anymore.

        1. SG*

          This! When you find that Outlooks has an annoying default function (like deleting Calendar invite messages once you accept them), 9 times out of 10 there is an easy fix by changing your settings. When it comes to figuring out the exact fix, Google is your friend.

        2. SG*

          This! When you find that Outlook has an annoying default function (like deleting Calendar invite messages once you accept them), 9 times out of 10 there is an easy fix by changing your settings. When it comes to figuring out the exact fix, Google is your friend.

      2. sb51*

        I know they do, but I can’t seem to get workflows around that to work for me. So I just either do the prework when I get them, or flag them for later that day, and accept them once I’ve done the prework.

        (They’re usually large meetings that have prework, so it’s not like my yes/no is actually going to make a scheduling change; if I said no I’d be expected to watch the video and follow-up outside of the meeting with my feedback.)

        I hadn’t found the “don’t delete” option, though — but I’m using the browser version; it’s probably buried in the desktop version, which I can launch and set and will probably propagate over to the browser version.

  154. Anonomatopoeia*

    I have colleagues who don’t accept meetings until right before, and I think it’s very rude because *I* (and anyone else who is invited) can’t do anything else with the time until I know whether *you* mean to be at the meeting. But also, why on earth would one NOT use this tool that is build into a system (email) that you are already using?! It gets you reminders and it notifies the other person you heard them (unless you opt out of sending the notice) and it makes the time apparent on your calendar. I don’t get this at all.

    (Also, one of the rude colleagues not only rarely replies until day-of, but also it’s basically 50-50 whether they will accept or decline, so I literally have NO IDEA whether we need to reschedule, and since it would be way easier to reschedule soon before everyone else in the meeting’s time for the rest of the week fills up, it means a lot of very stupid negotiating rescheduling and I hate it. When this is pointed out to this person, whom I do not supervise, they seem to have an opinion of “eh” about that, but if the meeting proceeds without them they are passive-aggressively awful about it. Since I don’t supervise them, I can’t require them to improve. Ugh, now I’m mad about Outlook etiquette.)

  155. LisaNeedsBraces*

    As someone who used to schedule meetings, I’d be very annoyed if I scheduled a one-on-one meeting first thing in the morning and the other person didn’t respond. I need to know how early I have to be in to ensure I don’t catch traffic/have technical difficulties (and accidentally waste your time) and so I have time to prepare/get settled beforehand. Now mind you, I would have sent a follow up email/Slack and asked if the other person would like another time the day before. I wonder if the organizer didn’t notice until right before the meeting.

    In general, at most of my jobs, both parties of a one-on-one meeting need to accept, otherwise it’s assumed the other person can’t make it or didn’t see the invite. Similarly, always respond to any group invite where your presence is absolutely necessary (e.g. you’re presenting, or leading the meeting/call, etc.). For All Hands meetings, or meeting where you’re basically there just in case, I don’t think it usually matters in most companies. Still, it’s nice to the scheduler and anyone else who’s trying to put time on your calendar to accept or decline. (Maybe’s are like ellipses, and should be used sparingly and only when necessary, otherwise they’d render your intention vague to the point of meaninglessness…)

  156. Betsy S*

    The etiquette may be different for clients vs peers vs senior or junior

    Between peers, it drives me BANANAS when people don’t answer. I lead a weekly team meeting with twelve peers as invitees and some weeks I get no more than three responses period. Honestly, I think it’s disrespectful. The ‘tentative’ exists so we can see that people will try to make it, or aren’t sure whether they have a conflict – but as it gets closer to meeting time, most people should know one way or the other. I never know whether to cancel or not, and it’s a waste of everyone’s time who HAS responded, to join the call and wait to see if we get critical mass.
    The gamble part is that there are two people in management – one in upper management – who are invited to this meeting (both tentative). Sometday they’re going to join and hear us discussing waiting.
    The frustrating part is that everyone agrees this meeting is important and my boss (boss to most of the attendees) is always asking about it.
    (the meeting usually DOES happen but usually does not start in a timely manner. I am, I think, at least the third owner of this meeting in five years, so it’s not just me. Maybe I should start cancelling every time there aren’t over 50% RSVP’s and see how that goes)

  157. Anonosaurus*

    Former Boss did this with our one to one meetings, so I never knew if he was going to call me, whether to call him, whether he might decide to Zoom me, whatever. It wasn’t a major deal but it did come across slightly as an attitude that my time was less important than his (as in, I was expected to keep myself free for the slot but he could choose on the day) and I found that irritating. I don’t really understand the problem with just accepting the invitation?

  158. mmppgh*

    If someone doesn’t accept a meeting I assume they can’t attend. If it is a 1:1, I would be super annoyed that someone didn’t accept. I usually follow up within a couple days of sending the invite to make sure I am not holding time needlessly. However, we generally don’t schedule meetings without an email exchange ahead of time either…Hey, do you have time next week to discuss….? It’s courtesy to not spring a meeting on someone when you don’t know what their current workload is. Now, if I send an invite for a committee meeting, I don’t track acceptances, but people are also really good at telling me they can’t come or formally declining. There are some meetings I am invited to as an FYI and I’ll put them on as tentative so I remember when they are if I need to submit an agenda item.

  159. Deezil*

    I had this in the job I just left. One of my coworkers would not accept his meetings, and when I looked in our CRM which synced with Outlook (accepted invitations only), I would see nothing and schedule something with him then. Once I started working with him in the CRM software only, it helped him figure out why I was so frustated and he started doing things right.

  160. Anon-e-mouse*

    In our office there are certain people that we know never accept meeting invites, and everyone knows that their not accepting a meeting invite doesn’t mean that they won’t be there. There are other people who are meticulous about accepting every invite that they intend to attend. And then there are other who sometimes do and sometimes don’t.

    Somehow we manage to function anyway. Particularly for a 1:1 I might contact the person some other way (phone, IM, email, whatever you do in your office) to ask, “Hey are you going to be able to make it for the 1:1 on Thursday or should we reschedule?” That takes about 1 second to answer & I don’t know a single soul who’d be offended.

    Often if it’s a meeting with 100 invitees I don’t respond one way or another because I deliberately keep that time “flexible” so that I can put a different meeting there if necessary (knowing that I won’t be missed in the large gang mtg). But for a 1:1 or a lunch meeting that’s having food brought in or whatever, it’s really only fair to let them know whether you’ll be able to make it or not (MHO). I don’t think the on-line etiquette is any different from Real Life etiquette in that respect.

    In general, I don’t like it when people never keep their calendar up to date. If their calendar is up to date I always do look at it to try to find a time when I won’t be bothering them if I need to just check something with them quickly. But if their calendar is never up-to-date (or if they keep their own calendar with paper & pencil on their desktop) then I just have to interrupt them with a possibly ill-timed phone call just to touch base. I really dislike that.

  161. NP204*

    A one on one meeting I would definitely accept but larger meetings I don’t bother as they show up on my calendar anyway. Personally I hate when I set up a group meeting and my in box fills with all the accepts/declines and I assume others don’t need that mess either since those larger meetings are happening regardless. However unless a person actually declined I would assume a meeting is happening and plan accordingly

    1. Happy*

      If you use Outlook you can always uncheck “request response” to avoid getting all those emails. Don’t know about other programs.

  162. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

    Honestly, for me this comes down to a clarity of communication issue. Judging from the responses so far there seems to be a decent number of workplaces in both the “no response = will attend” and “no response = will not attend camps”, so it depends on you being familiar with the norms of your particular workplace, which can vary wildly.
    And as we’ve seen here before, assumed knowledge of unwritten rules can cause so many issues for all involved.
    So why not just.. remove the confusion? If you respond to a meeting invite explicitly stating that you will attend/ not attend / not sure, then you remove the ambiguity and everyone knows what your answer is, rather than having to guess based on institutional knowledge.
    Being clear with your communication (and RSVPs) is basically always the better option, and it’s certainly a heck of a lot easier for new staff and anyone who may not always pick up on the unspoken subtext/rules.

  163. itsame*

    Feels like a ton of people here are responding very strongly based on their own office norms. LW, it’s possible you’ve misunderstood what the expectation is around invites in your office, or it’s possible the person you were supposed to meet with has misunderstood. Your best bet is probably to ask a few other coworkers what the standard is, and possibly lean towards accepting invites when possible (and definitely with this particular person) in the future to avoid potential misunderstandings.

    (and from my perspective, I would be extremely confused if someone cancelled a meeting 15 minutes beforehand based only on a non-response to a calendar invite, because the culture in my office is that you go to meetings unless you have actively declined them or they are specifically marked as optional.)

  164. Covered in Bees*

    When I ran a conference, I had no idea if the team members I needed to talk to would attend our planning meetings because so many wouldn’t respond yay or nay. Drove me up the wall. LW may always show, but in my experience no answer usually means a no-show.
    And it’s a one-on-one? Heck yes you need to respond, otherwise the other party has no idea if you even saw the calendar invite.
    My mind boggles at having a blanket policy to interpret silence as consent, about anything.

  165. Meeting Ghost (aka Letter Writer Today)*

    Hey, thanks everyone for your comments! Looks like there’s a fair number of workplaces in each camp, but it’s so so dependent on your office culture. A few clarifying points just Because:
    – We had planned this meeting verbally earlier in the week. Like “hey, are you in the office on Thursday? Cool, let’s get together to talk about Project”.
    – But, our office culture totally allows for “summons” meetings like some of you described. Like out-of-the-blue “I work in a different department and need to know about some obscure task you do, so even though we’ve never talked or met, I’m inviting you to a meeting.” I get those all the time.
    – I probably respond to 90% of meetings, because it does take only a second to click the button, but I’ve never stressed about missing one – because again, I assumed people would come unless they decline.
    – I do not personally check the meeting responses – ever – to see if someone responded. And I’ve never been ghosted. Only when I get a Decline notification do I reschedule.
    – He and I are both in roles where we are in meetings all day, every day. Even pre-covid, I’m scheduled 9-5 every day, and then I usually save my 1-1 time with my boss until 5 pm because we literally can’t talk until then. I like meetings though, and it’s kind of my job – I’m in a strategic role and have very few deliverables… just a lot of staff, a lot of institutional knowledge that I’m consulted on, a lot of projects I’m advising on, a lot of problems to fix. So my job is going to meetings.

    I appreciate seeing all the various viewpoints on this! I love topics like this on AAM and I was really excited to read the comments on this one. It reminds me of debates about lunch breaks – that debate is one I have Very Strong Thoughts on so any time that comes up I love reading the comments because everyone is so different but no one is actually right or wrong.

    The thing I found the most interesting was the comparison to social appointments. It did make me wonder why this weird thing is fine at work (for some of us) but not in real life – I’d never show up to a wedding without RSVPing, or wait for a friend at a restaurant if they never responded to my text asking them to dinner, but meetings still feel fine to me.

    For now, I’ll be more careful to explicitly accept, but also I now know this guy is likely the minority in my office but the majority in the world, if these comments are representative.

    1. itsame*

      “– We had planned this meeting verbally earlier in the week. Like “hey, are you in the office on Thursday? Cool, let’s get together to talk about Project”.”

      This is what I was wondering most about, and to me if we had specifically discussed meeting and then someone cancelled 15 minutes before-hand without a heads up about why, I’d be absolutely baffled.

      And, for what it’s worth, I’ve never once checked whether attendees have actively accepted a meeting invite, so all the replies saying it’s a rude/a huge inconvenience not to accept are also baffling to me. I suppose it all comes down to differences in office culture around how meetings/scheduling works, though. (And I suspect to some extent the difference between how gcal vs outlook works. I’ve only ever worked in gcal based offices, which I suspect is more friendly towards the “assume they’re coming unless they decline” side of things.)

      1. Ele4phant*

        Hmm perhaps our org is so focused on calendar hygiene, but if I had discussed meeting with someone verbally, I’d still be confused if they left a meeting invite unanswered. Like, did you forget and I need to remind you?

        That said, I do think I’d follow up with a “Bueller? Are we still on?”

        But if he’s a busy exec, I can see I guess him not wanting to run after others and wanting to keep his calendar clean, so he’d just delete the invite and move on with his day.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      “He and I are both in roles where we are in meetings all day, every day.”

      That actually makes me take a stronger stance that you really need to accept every meeting you plan to attend. 1) So that people who need to plan meetings with you have the most accurate view of when you are actually available, and 2) If he has a million other meetings then it is really not reasonable to expect him to wait for you if you haven’t confirmed you will be there.

      1. ele4phant*

        Yeah, if I wanted the LW (or the exec’s) time and I saw a tentative appointment at a time that might work, it’d leave me wondering…um, so, are you available or not? And now I’m spending time trying to track you down to confirm whether or not I can have that time or not when you already know you’re not available.

        Maybe the norm for the whole office to assume a tentative calendar invite means not available, but…how do you distinguish between the times where someone could something higher priority on there instead and the times where you actually are busy but just haven’t hit accept?

        Just use these tools – they are so low burden!

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Thank you for the update and for clearly reading the comments so thoughtfully!

      For what it’s worth, if you DO respond to 90% of meeting responses then I think it makes all the more sense that your coworker was confused. You might have just had it slip through the cracks (understandable, ultimately nbd) but he doesn’t know that. It’s a deviance in the behavior he expects from you and he made assumptions based on that.

      Ultimately you should have accepted, he should have checked in before canceling, no jerks here just a miscommunication.

  166. Little Miss Sunshine*

    Since I do all of my own scheduling of meetings, I assume anything that is “Tentative” in someone’s outlook calendar is fair game for booking critical meetings. Since Outlook automatically blocks the time as tentative until you respond, I may end up booking at a time that you actually cannot attend. I work with global teams, and active calendar management is stressed as a courtesy to all. If you are invited, respond. If you need/plan to be there, accept. If it is lower priority for you, a tentative acceptance allows the organizer to consider how critical you are and plan accordingly.

  167. Sleepless KJ*

    I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t just hit “accept” and move on? Like, now you’ve got a reminder, no one else can tap into that time and no one is left wondering if you’re attending or not. I would never assume a non-response was a “yes.” Granted he should have reached out to check with you before cancelling. Sounds like laziness all around.

  168. MCMonkeyBean*

    I certainly wouldn’t say you are a *jerk* but I do disagree with your meeting etiquette. And honestly I wouldn’t even so much say etiquette as to say you are not communicating to me what you intended.

    I would definitely assume the opposite than you–if a meeting is not accepted I would assume they are not sure they are going to be able to make it. For a bigger meeting, that is fine. But if I had a meeting scheduled with one person and they hadn’t accepted it, then yeah I would not be sure if they were actually planning to attend. And I guess then it does become a little bit about etiquette, because if you don’t say you are definitely coming then basically they have to either cancel the meeting like in your example, or else they have to keep that time blocked off and show up to the meeting while not being certain it is actually going to happen. If they aren’t sure the meeting is really happening, then they probably have something else they can do with that time instead! So I guess now I have talked myself into thinking yeah it is a little bit rude to expect someone to wait for you if you haven’t confirmed you definitely plan to show up…

    1. Ellena*

      Exactly. And I have to wonder – why? What is the reason to not do a simple click that indicates the invitee’s intentions?

  169. Onetime Poster*

    BTW, in our office, on Office 365, if you don’t reply in any way to a meeting, Outlook will show it as tentative on your calendar (indicating no response).

    To me, regardless of office culture, I think of it this way: if you send out invitations to a party with RSVP on them and people don’t respond, how might this situation pan out? While circumstances matter, there’s a reason we ask for a response to invites: it clears up any confusion and enables the organizer to know for certain what to expect.

    Contrary to the LW’s position, if someone doesn’t accept (by no response), I do two things: (1) I check the calendar info in Outlook as it will indicate an acceptance or not and (2) I might reach out to the person to check. NEVER do I assume that the person will attend without seeing the green tick mark on the calendar invite. I assume the opposite – if they don’t reply/accept, then they are not committing their time and as such I need to check.

    Sorta like the serial/Oxford comma… responding (using the comma) clears up any assumptions.

  170. Ellena*

    What is the point of having the options “accept”, “decline” and “tentative” as a response if they won’t be used? I come from an office where it’s super weird to not respond to a meeting (especially 1:1, but also group meetings where the invitee has an important part and not just passive listener) considering the level of effort a click requires. If someone is essential to a meeting and they don’t respond, we assume they didn’t see the invite and we follow up to confirm. I hope I never work in another type of culture where I have to guess or constantly ask if the person will attend.

  171. bopper*

    Not accepting can be a “I am not sure if I can make it”, “I didn’t see it”, “I am being passive aggressive about committing”, “I’ll come if nothing else comes up”, “I don’t think I am important to the meeting so it doesn’t matter if I say if I am coming or not”, “I don’t want to have to make a decision about this”, “I don’t care about this enough to bother accepting or declining”

    I generally don’t think it means “I will be there”.
    You or the other person could have IM’d or asked if it was still a good time.

  172. Unaccountably*

    I admit I’m confused by the number of people who think they’re being polite or courteous by not “cluttering up” an organizer’s inbox with responses, aside from anything else.

    If I send out invitations to a meeting, it’s not like I’m going to be surprised or annoyed by responses – it’s feedback I specifically requested, it’s not the equivalent of hitting “reply all” to the entire company. A person who schedules a lot of meetings already has an inbox full of invitation responses and presumably knows how to deal with them so their inbox remains uncluttered. A person who doesn’t organize a lot of meetings doesn’t have to worry about their inbox being overwhelmed when they have to organize one every now and then. So the logic of “not cluttering up” is like, “I’m going to be polite by saving someone from a problem I’ve invented in my own head even if it makes more real work for them.”

    1. ele4phant*

      Yeah, this kind of baffled me to.

      If I initiated this kind of a request to you, I understand what kind of response that will mean, and…I still did it. Please respond to me in the forum I originally asked you in.

      We can change our email settings and set rules to deal with stuff like this, and ultimately, my inbox is my responsibility to manage.

      So thank you for trying to be considerate…but, you don’t need to do that. In fact, it makes it harder for me.

    2. Ellena*

      So true. And apart from that, this “problem” can be easily solved (if Outlook is used) – there’s the option “Accept – Don’t send response” and no email goes out. But I still prefer people to send me a response and not having to check before the meeting the attendee list and who responded how (and if).

  173. Savaphoong*

    In my work culture, not responding to a meeting request gives the impression that you are not attending, and it give the impression that you are not paying attention and being responsive. Most of the people I work with interpret no response at all to be a sign of disrespect, and I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see a meeting get cancelled if no one accepted the meeting request. There is a reason for the accept and decline buttons in scheduling software, and using them as designed improves communication. Not using them as designed weakens communication.
    And really, it’s not asking a lot to click the button.

  174. Chickaletta*

    I’ve seen a case where not responding to invites lead to a jacked-up calendar which in turn contributed to someone losing their job because they were unreliable. Said person was a senior leader who reported to my c-suite level boss. As an admin, I was asked to let his admin know that c-level leaders were frustrated not knowing if this guy was ever going to be in attendance. The problem never got solved, along with some other issues, and this person ultimately got sacked.

    Moral of the story: if you’re interested in looking like you’re organized and on-top of things, respond to meeting invites and keep your calendar honest and up to date!

  175. EA who will have nightmares tonight*

    I used to work as an Executive Assistant for a big consulting firm and this letter made me break out into hives. Omg please just hit accept on meetings you’re attending. I know there wasn’t an EA in this case, but generally you will make the EAs life so much easier. They won’t have to chase you down and I promise they likely have some rule set up in outlook so RSVPs don’t clutter their inbox. I haven’t worked as an EA in 8 years but I’m going to have nightmares about this one tonight

  176. Gerry L*

    How does one tell the difference between “planning to attend your meeting even though I didn’t accept” and “oh, I didn’t even see that meeting you notice you sent. sorry”?

  177. lobsterp0t*

    I would fine this super irritating – from OP – if it was an in person meeting. In this age of virtual meetings, it’s less annoying.

    I set my Outlook to auto accept things when I’m free. I block no meetings times outside core hours and my diary auto rejects meetings during these times. If someone really needs me then, they’ll contact me. If it’s important, I’ll move my block. But if I’m not really needed – or they just don’t bother with scheduling assistant – then I let them waste their own time with rejigging constantly instead of finding shared availability.

    But yeah, it’s not hard to just accept meetings or set outlook or whatever app to do that for you.

  178. Mad, mad me*

    I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t automatically just accept a meeting request if one plans to be there. It’s common sense and good manners. When I’m coordinating meetings, I consistently check to see who’s attending, but there’s no way of determining this without some kind of response. I guess maybe he could have confirmed with the LW, but I think the screw up (and the need to apologize) is on him/her.

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