when my boss wants me to do something I really don’t want to do, can I just … not?

A reader writes:

I work as a political/administrative assistant and my boss is incredibly busy (as am I). She is an important political person who also oversees our organization, and her schedules change a lot. Very often I need to reschedule meetings, whole days, and whole weeks on her calendar because something extremely important comes up. As it is usually already full of pretty important things, handling the calendar is a nightmare, and contacting people to do this is my least favorite part of my job, but it is how it is. Simplified: if you have a meeting with an ambassador and the president would like to meet you at the same time, you have to reschedule the ambassador and not ask the president to do so.

But sometimes I don’t want to. Right now I’m dealing with something like that, and I have a question. My boss once again has a change of plans (a Very Important Meeting came up that requires a lot of traveling) and she can’t participate in another Somewhat Important Meeting. Priorities are clear, but she has asked me to contact the organizers of the Somewhat Important Meeting and ask them to reschedule, and if that can’t be done, then we need to hold the meeting without her — which is not optimal, but still possible. These kinds of meetings are usually attended on our side by both someone from the political leadership side (most often my boss) and our personnel (the people working on these issues day-to-day.) Sometimes we need to attend without the politicians because of last-minute conflicts in schedules.

The problem this time is that I really don’t want to contact the organizers. This meeting consists of relatively high-up and very busy people from three or four different ministry-level organizations (although none of them as busy as us). It was first scheduled last spring for this August and … we had to reschedule a couple of weeks prior. The organizers were very, very irritated and made it extremely clear that it was highly inconvenient to them and unlikely to be possible, but somehow they were able to reschedule and the meeting is in November. And now, a couple of weeks prior again, my boss wants me to contact them and ask for a reschedule.

I just feel like it’s a waste of time and a bad look, and so, so embarrassing. They most likely can’t reschedule it again, as this matter is very time-sensitive, and we will only look (even more) out of touch and inconsiderate. I told my boss that it’s likely not going to happen and that it was very difficult previously, and she wanted me to still ask and if they can’t reschedule, we will attend the meeting without her.

I would like to skip this step of asking. Because of the massive amounts of work and hectic schedules, she would never know. Most likely she wouldn’t remember to even ask (we are really really really busy). If I lied that I asked and they said no, she would never know. Writing this, I realize that I definitely can’t lie (obviously, although I’m really tempted to just tell her that it wasn’t possible — that’s not that far from the truth), but my first question is: is there something I can do? Right now I’m considering just staying quiet about it and if she asks, I will tell her that I skipped the step and accept her irritation. She appreciates my work a lot so I do have some leeway.

The second question (especially in the case you tell me that I should try and reschedule despite all this): I need to do this weekly if not daily. Some meetings are easy to reschedule, some like these are extremely difficult. Some I need to cancel entirely, often on very short notice. Are there any magic words on how to contact people with these requests, especially in cases like this one, where the other side has already both been flexible and shown irritation in doing so? I would love to tell everyone that this definitely pains me more than you, haha. I guess I wonder how I can effectively recognize both that this is highly inconvenient but also necessary.

I get why you hate doing this — you’re the face of something that feels rude — but you still need to ask to reschedule.

There are a few reasons for that:

1. It’s really your job. You manage your boss’s schedule, and part of your job is to represent her and how she wants her office handling things. You can certainly push back and explain why you’d like to do it differently — but ultimately it’s her call to make.

2. You don’t know what else might be going on. For all we know, the date is inconvenient for the organizers too but they’re keeping it because they assume rescheduling with your office would be too much of a hassle. There’s a chance they’ll be more willing to reschedule than you’re currently assuming.

3. If you don’t bother to ask, there’s a risk it could get revealed to your boss in ways you’re not anticipating — like if at some point they happen to say to her, “That date for the X meeting turned out to be the worst possible one because of Y, but we’ll find a way to make it work” … at which point she might say, “Didn’t my office contact you about changing it?” You might figure that if that happened, you have enough good will built up with your boss that it wouldn’t be a huge deal … but it’s the kind of thing that can erode what was previously an unquestioning faith in your honesty.

4. They might not think it’s as rude as you think it is. Assuming your boss has the level of importance that she sounds like she has, people understand leaders at that level have hectic schedules. They can be irritated by having to reschedule while still understanding it comes with the territory — especially when they have the option of just holding the meeting without her (versus rescheduling yet again).

When you have a manager like this — and especially when you work very closely with them, like you are — it’s easy to start thinking you know better than they do about the things they want done in their name. Sometimes you really might! You’re seeing different pieces of the work than they are and have a different (and sometimes better) perspective on it than they do. It can be very tempting to think, “I’m just going to quietly ignore task X, and they will be better off in the long run for it.” And frankly, sometimes that’s true, and the wisest course is to do that. But that power is a very delicate thing, and you need to wield it delicately … because trust is essential in order to do those sorts of jobs well, and it only takes one instance of your boss realizing you deliberately hid something for that trust to start to waver.

You still might need to sometimes anyway! In certain types of work, sometimes making that type of call can be part of what makes you awesome at your job. But I don’t agree that this specific issue — needing to reschedule a meeting — rises to the level of significant enough to warrant you wielding that power here.

However! All of this aside, you can do what your boss asked in a way that smooths over the issues you’re worried about. You can ask about rescheduling in a way that recognizes how unlikely they are to be able to do it. For example: “I’m so sorry about this, I know we’ve already had to reschedule once and I know how inconvenient that was. Unfortunately, Jane now has a conflict we can’t move, which just came up. If by some odd chance you’re able to reschedule, we’d like to — but if that’s not feasible, we can stick with this date and proceed without Jane. While she wouldn’t be able to attend, we’d send Cecil Livingstone and Valentina Warbleworth from our side.” You could also add, “Jane asked me to say how very sorry she is for this back and forth; she cares deeply about MeetingTopic but to some extent we’re always at the mercy of (world events / the president’s schedule / whatever you can plausibly fill in here that makes sense).”

And keep in mind, as much as you’re the face of your boss in interactions like these, reasonable people will know you’re in a tough spot even when they’re irritated. They’ll know you’re probably not the one making these calls yourself, and that you’re working within the constraints you’ve been given.

Read an update to this letter

{ 224 comments… read them below }

  1. Dust Bunny*

    I think that this is probably an inherent part of the job that you have to learn to accept and do, anyway, if you want to stay in this line of work.

    I hate talking to people about money but when I worked for a veterinarian, it was just something I had to suck it up and do. Or find another job (which I eventually did, but not because of this, although I don’t miss it).

    1. Chase*

      I’ve worked as a political staffer for 10 years, including as the main a scheduler, and it indeed does happen to everyone in the field.
      You need to find a way to completely emotionally disengage. You did not make the decision to cancel, and you cannot change it. You need to recognize that you are not “in charge” of the schedule all the time – sometimes, you are a messenger, nothing more. Make the call, hang up, and move on.
      You also need to recognize that as much as you want to change the way things opperate and bring order to the chaos, you can’t. A junior staffer, and often event the senior most, cannot effectively change a disfunctional culture set by the politician if that is what they have allowed for so long.
      Finally, you need to think about whether you want the type of career that lives and dies based on the success and failures or someone else, especially when their own success is dependent on voters.

  2. Les*

    This sounds like a great opportunity to learn how to disengage. It’s only a “waste of time” and “a bad look” if you’re personally invested. You won’t change your boss and you only have so much power; best just to do what you can and continue cashing your check every two weeks.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Seconding this. It’s not you doing it, it’s your boss; you’re just the one conveying the message.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I once worked for a politician who got a lot of angry correspondence. One time he wanted to respond in a very intemperate way, but told us to write on his behalf, using some very precise language he had written in the margin of the incoming letter. We ended up sending a letter with a courteous first and last paragraph, the middle one reading ”Politician read your letter closely and has instructed us to include the following in our reply …” – and we inserted his few sentences of vitriol, as a quotation. Strangest letter I ever sent.

        1. Hurricane Wakeen*

          I worked for a politician once who instructed me to draft a letter to someone saying “what the [curse word] is this?” I didn’t know he meant that literally and wrote the letter in polite lawyer speak. He took my draft, cut out everything I wrote, and replaced it with his five-word question. Still not sure why he needed me to draft that, tbh.

    2. Happy meal with extra happy*

      Something I always remind myself is “it’s not my name on the door”. I do my job, and I do it well, but I’m not going to take on additional stress and anxiety for stuff out of my control, such as how the company is generally run.

      1. That's True*

        This is a good framing. LW, you don’t get the money, power, or prestige of the political office, and you don’t need to take on the burdens of the political office. What is the impact on you if some other department thinks your boss is rude? It’s not personal and it’s not a reflection on you. Disengage as much as you can for your own peace of mind.

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      And it’s especially not a reflection on you, LW! If other people get mad about it, they’re likely thinking “Ugh, Minister of Most Important Things is asking us to reschedule AGAIN.” They’re allowed to be annoyed by that without it being a reflection on you or the office you work in. I understand not wanting your boss’ reputation to come under fire either, but you probably don’t get paid nearly enough for reputation management to be part of your job duties.

      I know it might feel embarrassing, but as a former calendar manager I think most people know it doesn’t reflect on you or your skills as it does on the nature of your boss’ job.

      1. Allonge*

        I know there are unreasonable people everywhere but at this level I would not think it’s a bad look on anyone (certainly not on the calendar-manager but really, not on anyone).

        This kind of stuff happens at practically every meeting-heavy place; the higher up someone is the more it’s going to happen, and especially when the meetings are at the whim of people called ‘president’, it will happen a lot, and generally for good reasons.

        Also totally agree on reputation-management, but a reputational issue would be to cancel a meeting and then be photographed at the beach doing nothing, or I don’t know, shopping for luxury items. Other meeting with someone on high? Just part of life.

      2. ferrina*

        Exactly this. Reasonable people know that you can’t control your boss; unreasonable people were going to find a reason to be unreasonable anyway.

        Be gracious and as flexible as you can. Be well-informed. Be kind and apologetic and recognize how tricky this is on their end- when people feel *seen*, it goes a long way in smoothing the conversation.

    4. Hannah Lee*

      It’s a subset of the “don’t be more invested in what is going on at your job than your manager is”

      Part of your job is to advise your boss of the possible impacts of various options, but once you’ve done that, they get to choose and you have to let it go and move forward. You do what you can to minimize issues it creates and treat others respectfully (ie Alison’s script for acknowledging the difficulties the new schedule change causes) but don’t internalize responsibility for the decision itself.

      Obviously if there are serious ethical/moral issues, potential loss of life or limb, there may be times when you just can’t and don’t want to do the thing. But the move there is to leave a job where your boss is choosing to do harm, and report/whistle-blow to authorities/media where appropriate. But this isn’t one of those cases.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Well, also, the decision whether to ask for a rescheduling or to just send staff in her place is a political decision. The LW knows that the organizers sound irritated at rescheduling but she doesn’t necessarily know how the organizers feel if the Minister doesn’t show for the meeting and just sends her staff in her place. And that may very well be a higher “cost” for the Minister than asking for a reschedule. Or the Minister really wants to be at the meeting for her own political reasons. It’s not the LW’s call.

    5. samecoin*

      forreal: I have to remind myself if that is what they want to pay me to do, that’s on them ( as I wait in line for my boss during the annual flu/covid drive)

    6. Toolate12*

      Life at work is so, so, so much better when I am able to narrow my view to what my boss is asking me to do. It’s true that action XYZ may have bad consequences. But that’s not my call! I’m not the decision maker and that its own relief/shield. It took a long time for me to learn this, I used to be so anxious about bad consequences.

      It helps so much to have a good relationship with a good boss to carry this out. I now have a boss whom I respect, who respects me – she actively solicits my judgment, so I feel I owe it to her as a duty to flag if something has potentially bad consequences (if I had a boss who did not welcome or want this, then it would easily not be part of my job); she also champions me. This all makes it very easy to go to other people and be the face of bad news about a decision made higher up. But in bad scenarios with a bad boss, the above (narrowing your scope to what your boss wants) is still the right call as a survival strategy. … at least, in a bureaucracy.

    7. Florp*

      I used to hate being the bearer of bad news, and procrastinated delivering it to point where it became a much bigger problem than it needed to be (late bad news is always worse). What helped me: recognize that you can’t control how other people react.

      You can only control your own behavior. If you are polite and understanding, *it’s not you that made them irritated.* It’s just is what it is, and they didn’t manage to act polite and understanding in spite of the inconvenience. That’s really more on them than you. And if they do blame you personally, they are jerks. Why would you care if jerks like you?

    8. Abby Normal*

      Exactly this. I used to get so stressed out planning meetings that ultimately fell apart due to scheduling issues but then I realized that I can’t control everyone. I’ve “done” my job by sending the emails and acting in good faith but I’m not gonna pull my hair out anymore if some VIP decides that 9 am is too early for a meeting.

    9. tamarack etc.*

      Yes, this.

      I had my first office-based job in France, where (at least at the time) office communication norms are/were a good bit more formal than currently in the US. My job involved some calling of other businesses to get mildly annoying tasks done, and I usually would not even introduce myself by name, but say that I’m calling “on behalf of X at company Y” or simply “on behalf of company Y” (de la part de…) . This helped me a lot in keeping inner distance from my task. I wasn’t really asking for something slightly aggravating, but was merely the conduit for this impersonal task, which, to mutual benefit (we worked for them, but to this end needed documents from them), needed to be executed by my interlocutor or their employer. If they were professionals, they would not take the aggravation out on me. And if they did, which was rare, I could more easily let it roll off my back.

  3. Happy meal with extra happy*

    This is unfortunately just part and parcel of this type of job. You get to be the messenger, and, despite the saying, you’re going to get the backlash. Really, the only thing you can do is be as apologetic and understanding of their aggravation as possible, but then just move on. They’re not upset at you personally.

    1. LCH*

      i don’t know how apologetic i’d be since, while i am a representative of the office, it was not my decision. i would definitely acknowledge that it is an inconvenient request and that they might not be able to grant it. but i think i’d lean more toward matter-of-fact this is how my boss and her office works, not apologetic.

      1. LCH*

        at any rate, yes, you need to make the request as instructed. either they change it or they don’t. sounds like your boss is fine with either decision.

      2. Happy meal with extra happy*

        It’s definitely personal preference and how people view apologies. Personally, I don’t think saying “sorry” is necessarily accepting blame/fault, but rather just acknowledging the hardship it places on the other side. Further, even if the other side views it as me accepting the blame (which would be weird for them), I don’t care if a third party does, if it ultimately helps smooth over our relationship.

        (I do find it a pet peeve when someone responds to a “I’m sorry” meant as a “that situation sucks” with “why, it’s not your fault.”)

        1. Admin Lackey*

          Yeah, where I’m located, ‘sorry’ is just the thing to say to be polite and acknowledge that a situation is not ideal and no one would take it as accepting responsibility. But that can vary, so know your audience

        2. tamarack etc.*

          Yeah, I think the apology should stop there. Both sides know that rescheduling happens, and if you’re *too* apologetic, you put the burden on the other person to deal with apologies that they have no emotional engagement in. A mutual acknowlegement that there’s a snag that slightly sucks – fine. An emotional plea for forgiveness – way too much.

        3. BatManDan*

          Because “I’m sorry” has at least two different meanings, and it’s not always clear from context which they mean.

      3. Yorick*

        You should definitely apologize for rescheduling or canceling a meeting, but you can apologize on your boss’s behalf if that makes more sense.

        1. Allonge*

          I think at this level it would go without saying that the apology is on boss’s behalf. Our director’s EA does say “I am sorry” if she needs to reschedule something that would cause this level of inconvenience, but that’s just how language works – we all know it’s not like she woke up and decided to mess with our planning.

          Unless I knew the scheduler on the other side personally, I would not even think to offer personal apologies – if I did know them, that’s a topic for a text or something like that.

      4. Boof*

        A little sympathy / acknowledgement that something sucks can go a long way. Don’t take abuse/name calling/yelling, of course, but “I’m sorry I know everyone worked hard on this but Boss had something come up – these are our options [try to reschedule again or meet without boss]” can be huge. Try to give up to 2 min validation (again, no abuse, just sympathetic listening and comments) then redirect if it’s still going, but sometimes just knowing someone cares goes a long way.

      5. Cj*

        I agree with not sounding too apologetic. I thought even Alison’s script sounded a little too apologetic.

      6. constant_craving*

        Eh, I think part of the job, as the one communicating on behalf of the office, is to be apologetic. It doesn’t have to be LW’s personal feelings, but it is the message she probably needs to put forward as part of her role.

      7. Smithy*

        I think with external facing roles that involve this kind of work that can fall in between relationship building and coordination – there’s a kind of language that works as that sector’s business jargon. The way that sorry is used, the way emails that start “hope you’ve been well” can work the way as ending an email “sincerely” function…..that yes, there is an element of a personal communication but also just a reality of what that type of communication sounds like.

        But there’s also an aspect of personal style, to the fact where there’s no one right way all the time – but there are also less right ways.

        I’m not in this kind of politics, and I’m not this person’s boss – so it may be that being apologetic is necessary from a business jargon sense for this OP for this job. It may be more the OP’s choice. But I think the larger picture is part of the OP’s job duty’s is being a professional extension of their boss. And so that may mean apologizing on her boss’ behalf. Or being more matter of fact, but it’s more about realizing this is the business communication and not a reflection of personally having wronged anyone.

      8. Limdood*

        matter of fact is the way to go.

        “this is how it is, these are the options moving forwards, no amount of emotion will change that.”

  4. Richard Hershberger*

    I was, from the headline, expecting it to be a take the boss’s dry cleaning type of thing. It turned out to be a core job function. Noping out of a core job function is not a good look.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Same! Or doing the boss’s kid’s homework, leaving work messages at a grave, that sort of thing.

      Sorry LW, this is a completely reasonable instruction and you just gotta deal with the discomfort for a few minutes.

    2. ferrina*


      That said, there are ways you can tailor core functions sometimes. In this case, Boss is clearly relying on LW’s judgement for how hard to press the organization to move the time. LW can either do a light ask– “Is this something that would cause you hardship? Yes? Then I won’t ask further.” — or can push back in a bigger way– “We need to reschedule. I’m so sorry. Here’s a few dates that we’re available.”

      There’s a big difference between “we’d love to do X if it’s an option” and “we need to do X”. That’s where LW’s discretion comes in, and it sounds like Boss really trusts LW’s judgement on when to push vs accept the situation. If LW was to nope out because they feel awkward, that would definitely call their judgement into question.

      1. Allonge*

        Yes, I think this fell more into the category of ‘do I have to do this thing exactly as boss says’ for OP rather than the ‘do I have to do this at all’.

        Which can be a fair question, even if in this case the answer is both.

  5. A. Nonymous*

    As a career admin — if you’re asking these kinds of questions, you really might want to reconsider if you’re in the right line of work. I would recommend as a start just to check in with yourself — do you enjoy this work? Find pride in it? Does it best utilize your skills? Does it often call on less undeveloped skills, or things you really don’t want to do for your job? Really listen to the answer, and be open to the fact that maybe you want a change.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Really? This is interesting to me. I feel like nobody likes to knowingly cause frustration, particularly the helpful and empathic people who are often drawn to assistant roles. It’s just a downside of the job in my mind. Who would actually thrive on making people unhappy?

      1. TootsNYC*

        I think a good admin won’t see it as making people unhappy. But as solving a puzzle, creating communication, and finding ways to help their Senior Person navigate a difficult landscape.

        1. Goldenrod*

          “I think a good admin won’t see it as making people unhappy.”

          I agree with this! I’ve done a lot of this type of work – and I totally can relate to OP’s frustration. But I also agree with Alison – it’s not OP’s call to make.

          Constant rescheduling really is part of this type of job. Those of us who thrive in these types of jobs – we don’t *love* rescheduling, but we accept the fact of it.

          Alison’s suggestion to approach the party very diplomatically is excellent – OP can state, “I’m so sorry to have to ask for a reschedule, but…” and if you communicate respectfully and apologetically, it’s totally fine to make the ask.

          1. Trotwood*

            Providing the alternative plan in your initial email probably helps too…”if it’s not possible to reschedule, Professor McGonagall and Professor Sprout will attend in Professor Dumbledore’s place.” Then they can make their choice and hopefully cut down on some of the back-and-forth.

            1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              Exactly this. You’re not demanding that the meeting must be changed. You are presenting the other people with options. They can either move the meeting and Jane will do her best to attend or they can keep the meeting as scheduled and include people from your organization other than Jane. Ultimately, the decision is theirs.

              1. Lily Rowan*

                That’s the key in the presentation here — it’s not, “You must reschedule,” it’s “I know this is a nightmare, is there any way to reschedule, if not, no worries, our office will still be represented.”

          2. Anonymous 75*

            yep. I’ve done this job for a good number of years and yeah this type of stuff is frustrating and irritating but it’s very normal, expected on some level and I guarantee you the people you are rescheduling on do the same thing to others. it’s just so very common.

            and not going will 100% (and saying you did!!)came back and bite you on the ass.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          I think this is spot-on. Until we can overcome the space-time continuum, we’re limited to being in one place at a time, and nearly everyone is outranked by someone else or has a problem that is less of a priority than someone else’s at specific places in time.

          Also, anyone working with a high-level person regularly should know that re-prioritization is just a reality of the multiple demands on their time. And anyone who blames the admin (who’s only the messenger) for said schedule change is the one in the wrong.

      2. misc.*

        I think it’s a good point. Sure, nobody generally thrives on making people feel unhappy or irritated. However, some people are more bothered than others by being the bearer of that sort of message. It’s worth considering if this is something that is going to ultimately really be bad for OP. I’m sure there are similar positions that involve less of this sort of thing, if it is a place OP really gets uncomfortable. Sort of like some people just really don’t do well in jobs that involve sitting all day and there are people that aren’t bothered by it.

      3. bamcheeks*

        I don’t think anyone thrives on making people unhappy, but some people thrive on not making people unhappy in an unhappy-making situation. For some people there’s a real satisfaction in being able to smooth things over with Organisation B and make them feel respected even when you’re having to communicate something negative.

        1. Sloanicota*

          “I don’t think anyone thrives on making people unhappy” –

          To be fair, I’m certain some people do – and sometimes a power-mad admin can be great for their own executive (and usually terrible for everyone else) but obviously OP is not wired that way at all.

        2. Green beans*

          I… kinda don’t care if someone is facing the consequences of their own actions, or if it’s just a reasonable cost of business (some people’s calendars are just like that… it is what it is.)

          but that would make me a terrible admin because “yes that was a predictable outcome of your choices and really sounds like a you problem. is there anything that falls under my job responsibilities here? no? okay, bye.” isn’t exactly a winning attitude for an admin assist or executive assistant job.

      4. Annony*

        There is a difference between disliking a task and disliking it to the point that you consider simply not doing it. If you get to the point of actively avoiding a core job responsibility, it is a good idea to consider if you are in the right job.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          This. Its a core job function. It can feel uncofortable, but its not optional. If you are looking for outs, its time to consider whether this is the right job for you. Because the job is not going to change. The boss is not suddenly going to be less busy. So you need to either figure out a way to deal with that fact, or find a new job.

          1. AGD*

            This. I had a job where I had to call people I didn’t know and ask them for information. I hated doing it, and watched myself consistently put it off. That’s when I realized that I needed to be doing something else.

          2. Antilles*

            Exactly. You don’t have to “enjoy” it, but it’s such a key part of the role that you need to be able/willing to do it. There’s no such thing as “I just won’t reschedule meetings” because it’s enough of a fundamental part of the role that it’s going to keep coming up.

        2. Paris Geller*

          Agreed. I totally sympathize with the OP because I would hate having to be the one doing this type of task! I know a job like the one the OP has would not be a good fit for me (of course, when you need to keep a roof over your head sometimes you take what you can get, and I understand that too. But if I were the OP, I would definitely explore other options).

      5. Expelliarmus*

        True, but people drawn to assistant roles are usually not upset enough by causing frustration that they feel tempted to skirt their duties.

      6. MigraineMonth*

        I think there’s a big difference between a “downside” to a job and “I’m thinking about defying/lying to my boss just to avoid it”. Some people can just do it without much angst; some others I know would have such anxiety about it they couldn’t even make the phone call.

        I have to log my time to various projects. It isn’t engaging and I think my time could be more productively spent doing other things; it’s definitely a downside to my job. But it’s just something I do; I’m not losing sleep (or writing to an advice column) about it.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, that’s the way I feel about our ticketing system. It’s awkward, requires an unnecessary number of clicks to do anything because it’s so badly designed, to the point that sometimes dealing with the admin takes longer than doing the task on the ticket.

          I dislike it, but I still use it without complaint because it’s a part of the job. Last year, my employer did a survey about the software we’re using, and the ticketing system got so much criticism that the IT department’s actually looking to replace it with a more modern and flexible system.

      7. Adereterial*

        This sort of position – working for a politician – comes with this sort of requirement. It’s not just a straightforward admin role – and those who do it need to be comfortable bearing the brunt of others frustration at the politician, and doing what they ask of you even if you disagree. Some people can manage that, some can’t – it’s the nature of the work.

        In the UK these roles are staffed by permanent civil servants who often only spend very short periods in Private Office as the burn out rate can be high. I did it once for 6 months – I would not return to that sort of work.

    2. Bee*

      There’s a solid chance this person is in an admin job not because they want to be in an admin job but because that’s the only kind of entry-level job in the field they want to work in, in which case: you are going to have to grit your teeth and do this kind of thing for a couple of years, and then you will have more autonomy and ability to focus on the things you ARE you good at.

      1. Not Today, Satan*

        You’re speculating on the LW’s motivation and career growth — twe don’t know that they’re entry level or that this was the only job they could get or that they don’t want to be an admin.

        1. Bee*

          So is the person I was responding to by questioning whether they should be in this job at all – I was just putting forth an alternate viewpoint, as someone in an industry where the only entry-level jobs involve assisting (and 80% of the assistant jobs are entry-level), so you have to do it whether or not it’s something you’re good at or want to do.

          1. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

            But I think the point is that there are lots of other entry-level genres of job that won’t involve being the messenger on rescheduling things.

      2. Covert Copier Whisperer*

        Maybe, but likely not. Assistant jobs at this level are not entry- level jobs. If LWis something like a legislative assistant, that may be entry-to- this-field level, and that’s a separate gripe about how the field works. But since LW said their boss works for an “organization” I doubt that’s the case here.

        I used to be an assistant-to-the-excutive assistant in an office similar to this. That was still not entry- level. (And the EA taught me to use scripts nearly identical to Alison’s above.) And it’s not necessarily a stepping stone to other jobs in the field! An executive assistant has their own area of expertise. I didn’t get admin-tracked mostly because this was a minor part of my other duties, but I did have to make a choice which route to follow.

      3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I would really doubt that a political / administrative assistant role for someone who seems to be pretty important would be an entry-level role. Particularly since that description makes it sound like there’s also a significant strategy and analysis component to the role.

      4. Baffled*

        Posts like these make it clear that some people have no idea what is involved in an administrative role.

        It’s more than calendars and email. At this level, assistants like LW are helping shape strategy, providing insight into employee environments, executing projects and initiatives, coordinating campaigns, planning some events, and EVERYTHING else.

        In addition, some assistants support multiple people, so increase factorially.

        And then, you still have people who want to borrow the CEO’s assistant!

        The best assistants I’ve known in corporate life were the heartbeat of the organization and they held political capital.

        It’s more than calendars and emails.

    3. Yeah...*

      I think your questions are on point. The comments above mine are interesting.

      I have definitely not taken positions, because I didn’t want to be “the face of” –

      – telling people no
      -explaining that this complicated method is the only approved method and we’re not changing it
      -repeating the same thing over and over again

      There are more examples, but from my personal experience these are s0me of my examples.

    4. Ally McBeal*

      Or even if this particular job is right. OP may need to step out of the political world and work admin for people whose schedules are by nature less chaotic and prone to last-second changes. Even the CEO of a publicly traded company would usually have a more steady calendar.

    5. KeinName*

      I think this is a bit unkind. I think we are missing the political component that is causing the discomfort here. Not just awkwardness in re-scheduling.
      OP is likely not just skilled at admin but also in the subject matter that the politician is working in, or in politics in general, and she might have made the judgement that it doesn’t serve her bosses cause to irritate this group again. I do agree with Alison‘s advice, but I also think that we shouldn’t assume OP isn’t suited for her job if she has a strong reaction to a specific instance of something she does all day long without problems.
      I can emphasise a bit because I work in a similar field and know people in her role and they are often in the situation of navigating that trust while making judgement calls.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Is it unkind though? This is, in LW’s words, a “Somewhat Important Meeting” that now conflicts with a “Very Important Meeting” where “the priorities are clear.” LW has been given clear instructions about what to do, and she is considering not doing it — effectively making the decision for these other impacted parties that LW knows best and they would be less pissed to walk into a meeting where they are expecting Politician than they would be to be given the choice to reschedule or to *knowingly* walk into that meeting w/o Politician present. It sounds like LW and you think that LW has the leeway to make a judgement call, but from everything else in the letter it reads as if what she’s being asked to make is a phone call to reschedule.

        1. KeinName*

          As I said, I agree with Alison‘s advice. OP clearly also doesn’t think she has the leeway, or she wouldn’t have written in.
          I just find it a bit harsh to tell her to reconsider her career choices on account of her questioning her boss‘ judgement. In fact you could argue it’s quite useful to question a politician‘s judgement now and again, and not blindly follow orders, but that’s another discussion ;)
          It’s an interesting conundrum for sure!

          1. amoeba*

            Yup – honestly, I’d say pushing back on unreasonable requests and making sure your boss *doesn’t* anger their partners by being inconsiderate would be the hallmark of a very good admin! Not that I’m any kind of expert, but than sounds much more valuable to me than just going “OK, whatever you want” and not caring about the consequences because, hey, you just relayed the message…

            1. Antilles*

              Sure, but in this case, it’s not pushing back on an unreasonable request:
              OP themselves even says that the priorities are clear and the boss is pushing back a “Somewhat Important” meeting in favor of a new “Very Important” meeting. And in that case, the executive assistant needs to be willing to do that even if it means yet again bumping Someone Important.

    6. Frickityfrack*

      I’m also a career admin and this is exactly why I’ve never gone the executive assistant path. I know I would hate managing someone else’s calendar and I also know it’s basically mandatory, so I stick to admin jobs that are more individual contributor or department support roles. Sounds like OP might prefer that – there’s a fair amount of crossover in duties, but the only calendar I worry about is my own.

  6. Caramel & Cheddar*

    This letter is giving me PTSD from a time I had to manage the calendar for someone who definitely was not meeting with ambassadors or presidents but felt the importance of their schedule and its myriad changes was definitely on par. My sympathies, LW!

    1. Sloanicota*

      I agree I am getting second hand cringe from every time my boss asks me just to set up a meeting with a billion truculent, busy people – it’s two seconds for her to ask, and hours and hours and hours for me to get it done! And totally thankless, of course.

    2. Snarkus Aurelius*

      A friend of mine used to be an admin for a boss who had ***20-25 weekly or biweekly meetings*** that couldn’t be cancelled or rescheduled or put in an email? Boss insisted on 1) no back to back meetings and 2) free time during each day so she could get work done. Both of those things were physically impossible unless she had a clone.

      I don’t care if you’re the President. No one needs to go to that many meetings in a week! Either get a deputy or start cancelling!

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        My field is so meeting-light that I find myself giving heavy side-eye to pretty much any meeting. I don’t think I would even consider working somewhere that had stand-ups or town halls. PUT IT IN AN EMAIL.

        The corollary to my (admittedly extreme and probably unreasonable) position is that I tend to believe anyone who spends more than half the working week in meetings (!!!) does so merely to justify their job and could easily be laid off without the rest of the organisation noticing.


        1. l*

          There are definitely a lot of unnecessary meetings in the workplace, and I can sympathize with the “this meeting should have been an email” frustration. But on the flip side, I encounter many situations where I have the opposite “this 65-email thread that’s gone on for days should have been a 30-minute meeting” frustration. It totally depends on the level of collaboration and coordination your work involves. Sometimes weekly stand-ups are the most productive part of the week because of the real-time brainstorming that takes place.

          1. Caramel & Cheddar*

            Or the related issue of “this meeting could have been a singular FYI email” except no one reads the email and that’s why it’s a meeting.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            I once had to kill an 80+ message email thread that had expanded its cc list with every other message. In the end, I scheduled a meeting with the 5 people who actually had the knowledge and standing to make a decision.

            If it takes me more than 15 minutes to write an email (because the situation is complicated enough that I have to keep adding context), I think that’s an indication that an actual meeting is required.

            (Then again, I also hold the strong opinion that nothing productive occurs after the 90 minute mark in any meeting, so I have my own biases.)

          3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Yes, definitely depends on field. I’m now so used to well defined discrete tasks that “collaboration” looks like “who in $Department will handle this? Alex? Cool.”

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        In other ridiculous meeting-related numbers, one of my former colleagues (a top researcher in her field) once showed me a Doodle poll she received with around 25 different date/time slot options for one (1) meeting.
        I joked that if someone sent me a poll like that, I’d check “no” on every option out of sheer annoyance – but it was just a joke since I’m a former admin and wouldn’t do that to someone trying to schedule a meeting with lots of senior people!

      3. K*

        Hahahaha in my old job I was *averaging* 8 meetings day, or 40 meetings a week.

        It was awful. Zero stars, do not recommend.

        1. Happy Pineapple*

          Unfortunately that’s standard where I work as an admin. My executives frequently have 7-14 meetings per day. They’re lucky if they have the lunch hour meeting-free, never mind any time to do actual work between 9am and 5pm. It’s insanity and they’re so resistant to changing it, yet they’ll blame me that they’re too busy!

    3. Zoe Karvounopsina*

      I’m currently on the other end of this, where someone whose schedule I bent over backwards to accomodate has a government meeting that means she can’t make the meeting, which, I say again, we scheduled at an annoying time for everyone else just for her. And we can’t change it now.

      I’m annoyed. I’m annoyed because it feels like she only gives lip service to caring about/being involved in this thing, and also that she’s a significant voice on the meeting, so effectively everything is carried out “assuming we can get hold of Jane Warbleworth and she doesn’t think it’s a bad idea” but…it is what it is! And all I can say is that if anyone asks my thoughts, I will point out that she systematically doesn’t prioritise these meetings, and let the chips fall as they will. (ie, if she can’t prioritise meetings that take place three times a year over something she cares a lot about, possibly we should pass this Very Important Role over to someone who can, and she can have more time for her other Very Important Roles.) But she doesn’t care, and the usual Chair doesn’t care (or possibly realised from the slight twitch we all get discussing scheduling that we can’t move it to accomodate her), so nothing’s going to happen.

      1. Zarniwoop*

        “And we can’t change it now.”
        Why not? That’s as big a problem as the schedule changing boss.

    4. B*

      Yes, at least this appears to be the rare boss who is genuinely as important and busy as they think they are.

      1. Hazel*

        Indeed! And not always within their control. I’ve been on the other side as public service staff trying to arrange committee meetings with multiple politicians, and we all understood they just have way too much going on … their emails alone were described as a firehose! We led off with their schedulers with something vaguely apologetic or understanding like ‘I know this is a tough ask but …’ and understood any frustration was genuinely that there aren’t more hours in the day. I was given a great tip by an ex-EA: if you get a no, say ‘that’s too bad I think everyone else is good for that date’ and then they are afraid of not being there to fight their corner and will shift other things to attend! You don’t have to actually know the others are attending …

  7. Delphine*

    That sounds like a tough job, LW, since people can end up taking out all their feelings about the rescheduling on you. Even the anticipation of that reaction—whether it ends up happening or not—can be anxiety inducing. I understand why you would want to avoid that, is possible.

    But I agree that it’s a part of the job.

  8. CubeFarmer*

    LW needs to remember that the meeting organizers are not angry at the messenger, they’re angry at LW’s boss.

    This is a core admin function. If that’s LW’s job, and LW doesn’t want to do the job, then, get another job. It’s a bad look to simply NOT do this.

    1. münchner kindl*

      Yes – if I were the meeting organizer, I would be annoyed at the circumstances, but not at LW for informing me, and especially if LW gives me the option “reschedule again or do meeting without Important Person?”.

      And I would know that, since we can only be in one place at one time, there will always be schedule conflicts, and that’s just how it is.

      Because even without organizing meetings for Important Things with Important People, it happens in my private life – people choose going to a family event over conventions; when it’s the weekend, I can only attend one event, not three, no matter how interesting each one is. (Sometimes all are so interesting that throwing a coin decides).

  9. Hakky Chan*

    The advice here is spot on. I’m an Executive Assistant and I understand the “ugh, I don’t want to have to reschedule this again” reaction. I will indulge in that feeling for a little while (20-30 minutes is usually what works for me unless the meeting is within the next 24 hours), get through feeling my irritation, and then start drafting the email.

    I find that thanking people for their flexibility after a re-scheduled meeting, in addition to the language Alison suggested for the initial request is a good way to help keep any relationships intact. You know you’re causing an inconvenience. It’s one that is out of your hands, but it still is.

    1. Susan*

      Perhaps the LW could approach this problem slightly differently by, whenever they schedule a meeting, automatically assuming that it might need to be rescheduled later. Then they could feel relieved every time it turns out to be unnecessary instead of becoming irritated whenever it does happen.

    2. cloudy*

      Yeah, this sounds like a core part of my job as well. I joke that that piece of my role is “playing 4d calendar tetris with multiverse time travel”.

      I used to hate it but now I kind of find it like a fun puzzle game (as long as people don’t ignore my requests for availability… then we get into the “pick a time and hope” territory.

      It’s frustrating but it all just comes with the territory.

  10. Sloanicota*

    This reminds me of being in customer service or any other frontline job where the customers are very angry at the company. They are not angry at you really; they probably know it’s not your fault or within your power to fix (if they are at all reasonable); but there’s nobody else around, and they feel the need to vent or be frustrated in your direction. A good customer service agent has to find a way to let this anger roll off their backs a bit, by sort of mentally separating themselves from the situation (as well as hopefully having confidence in their boundaries if the person really does become abusive, which I don’t think is your main concern). Acknowledge their frustration, be direct and kind, but don’t let it be personal to you. Even if it is to them!

    1. amoeba*

      Eh, it’s a bit different though, isn’t it? I mean, it’s also about preserving the relationship with those people who are probably important to the job in the long run. So I’d say keeping things smooth with them is actually a very important part of the job – whereas, in customer service, sure, it’s important to be polite, but if they’re angry at you, in the end it’s annoying but not a problem in the long run. Just grow a thick skin and ignore. I don’t think that would work in this case…

  11. peter b*

    I also hated this part of my job when I was an admin, and it was partially a sign that although I loved a lot of things about that role I really needed to move on to something else that was less excruciating-rescheduling-emails heavy. It really is normal for high level staff, but I also couldn’t quite get to feeling neutral about it even when I stopped being embarrassed about having to do it. I hope you can adjust to thinking of it as something that doesn’t even really register to most everyone else like it does to you, but if not, it may be worth considering a role that doesn’t require it. Easier said than done, but it also sucks to stay longer in a job that stresses you out than you should. (I’m a lot happier in my new non-rescheduling heavy job!)

  12. NotARealManager*

    When I’ve had to do this kind of work it helps to remember they’re not mad at me. Often, they’re not even mad at my boss. They’re just irritated with the situation. And everyone knows the admin/assistant isn’t the one calling the shots. You’re just the messenger. It can be uncomfortable, but as long as you’re professional, rescheduling won’t reflect poorly on you personally.

  13. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Yeah, I’m going to guess that OP wrote more for a vent/reality check than advice.
    I hate talking on to people and could never do that job (I tried and failed). You are doing great.
    Just keep telling yourself it is your job to make the calls she asks, not to vet them. Alison makes a great point that once you start, it will not only become more easy, but more important to control your boss’ calendar. Do you really want to become that person who controls what information your boss does and doesn’t get?
    Some people feel justified being a gatekeeper. Others, like you, will go to bed at night wondering if she will find out what you did/didn’t do today.
    Hang in there. Everyone you talk to is in the same situation. They aren’t sighing at you, they are just you on the other end of the call.

  14. Czhorat*

    Big Bartleby, scrivener energy here.

    In fiction it works, but in real life not so much. It’s your boss’s role to assign tasks to you; that’s their job. It’s your job to do those tasks. If your workplace is at all hierarchical then no, you can’t just say no unless it is one of the following:

    – outside your job description
    – dangerous
    – unethical

    Otherwise, just noping out of it will at the very least hurt your reputation and make it harder to get flexibility when you need it, make raises and promotions less likely, etc. At worst, it will get you fired (in which case you really won’t have to do what the now-former boss asks)

    1. Gyne*

      Yeah, the last person at my workplace who tried this was very quickly fired. Apologies in advance for a double negative, but having an urgent issue come up unexpectedly isn’t “not a good look,” it’s standard operating procedure in some fields. What IS not a good look is lying about work you didn’t do, in every field and role.

      1. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

        I agree, it’s that part of it that’s signaling “maybe change fields” to people. Like, a surgeon making a moderately urgent case wait because a more urgent case was triaged ahead of it isn’t “not a good look”. It’s just priorities.

        Boss isn’t incompetent or sloppy with her schedule, which might be embarrassing to have to smooth over. She’s just important and has competing demands on her time.

  15. Insert Pun Here*

    It’s also worth considering that your boss may know things you don’t (especially if she’s been doing the work for a long time/working with the same outside groups or people for a long time.) I am nowhere near as important as your boss, but sometimes I’ll tell my assistant “hey for this person, try A instead of B, they have longstanding issues with xyz thing,” assistant does the standard procedure B instead of slight deviation A, and all hell breaks loose. I am, to put it mildly, not impressed when this happens.

  16. Sloanicota*

    I needed to hear this advice today; I often make choices thinking “well, it’s not that bad and nobody will know” about small stuff, and it’s helpful to remind myself the reasons this shouldn’t be your go-to option.

  17. S*

    This very much reminds me of an excerpt from Michael Lewis’ book about SBF:

    “If he stood you up, it was never on a whim, or the result of thoughtlessness. It was because he’d done some math in his head that proved that you weren’t worth the time. “You’re always going to be apologizing to different people, and you’ll do that every day,” said Natalie.”

    Gift link, if it’ll let me post: https://wapo.st/46OsjY3

    1. Observer*

      “If he stood you up, it was never on a whim, or the result of thoughtlessness. It was because he’d done some math in his head that proved that you weren’t worth the time. “You’re always going to be apologizing to different people, and you’ll do that every day,” said Natalie.”

      Except that what the OP describes is very different.

      The link is interesting, though.

    2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Deciding not to keep a meeting/appointment might be based on some sort of rational calculation, although the collapse of FTX and Alameda suggest that SBF wasn’t very good at math, in his head or otherwise. But the repeated choice to stand people up was thoughtless at best. At some point a person knows that they’re repeatedly accepting meetings/invitations and cancelling on short notice or just not showing up, and it’s time to stop accepting so many meetings.

      That’s not LW’s situation: her boss is trying to reschedule because something came up, and it’s something that her assistant can mention to the other party, if asked.

      1. S*

        Right, right… it was a bit of a leap. Just thinking about this person who had to do the uncomfortable thing every freaking day!!

  18. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Some practical advice here from someone who’s interacted with people in your job — you need to develop a network and working relationships within your VIP’s office. She has deputies, a chief of staff, etc. for a reason. Unless for some absolutely bonkers reason she has expressly forbidden you from talking to those people, you need to do it. A lot. They’ll know whether your boss will be OK with the Somewhat Important Meeting being attended by a deputy instead of her.

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      Oh I like this one, actionable advice and more useful than the “suck it up buttercup” type of advice. As I said elsewhere, I was an admin for a famous politician who did not cancel very much, because they scheduled well beforehand (i.e. didn’t over-commit).

      This OP feels like an island in the ocean, and they do need to be backed up, in the way you’re implying.

      I see a few “you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors” comments but if you’ve ever been in a position to look behind the curtain, oftentimes it’s SOS just at a different level. In fact that has caused me angst in corporate America, higher-ups cancelling everything last minute for an “emergency” and then you find out it was the same group of people who always meet, talking about the same things they always talk about, and you really start to question what gets considered an “emergency” in many workplaces.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Oh my goodness yes. Some groups can rattle through ten agenda points in an hour and end up with five decisions, three actions and two delegations. Other groups have three two-hour meetings and still haven’t worked out what the agenda will look like. Bafflingly, those two kinds of group can contain the same individuals.

        I attended a series of Very Important Meetings some years ago which involved senior staff from all over the country coming together to workshop the entire operations of the business. Each meeting cost easily five figures in expenses and lost billable time, so the series probably cost a million. And then they didn’t use the workshopped results anyway.

        But oh the networking, and oh the catered breakfasts and lunches, and oh the restaurant dinners on a company credit card. I can see why some people are VERY keen on meeting in person.

      2. eeeek*

        Agree with this, though I’ve never been at that level, politically. (My politics are much more local – campus, town & gown, state reps, student gov’t…)

        Many a time I’ve extended copious apologies from the Boss, who included assurances that it was actually Better and More Practical to send one of the expert deputies to the meeting, because the deputies could actually advise and/or DO something – and it was almost always better for the deputies to have a direct conversation instead of getting a second-hand account (lacking key details or nuance) from the Boss. Allies in the office, and the Boss who will honestly say, “Really, the best way for me to care for this topic is to sent these experts to listen, advise, and plan with you, than for me to be there…” Effective leaders work with their teams, and the Admin who is managing the schedule is part of the team and communication strategy about that work…

    2. Nynaeve*

      As someone who is on both sides of these interactions basically every day as admin to a VIP, this is really good advice.

      In addition, presumably you aren’t talking directly to the President, Ambassador, etc, but your equivalent in their office. Make friends with those people. I am friendly with all the other Admins, both internal and external, that I work with on a daily basis. And we freqently get on Teams or Zoom as a group to figure out these types of reschedules. Those calls always start with us comiserating with whoever is “lead” on the planning that we KNOW how hard it is because we are all the lead person at some point, and then getting down to figuring out how to make it work.

      I frequently have items like “You asked me to schedule X with A, B and C next week. You’re choices are have X with A and B next week, or have it with everyone in 3 weeks. Which do you want to do?” on my 1:1 agenda, or I just send that in an e-mail or Teams message and wait for direction.

    3. J*

      Agreed. I think a good boss would be one who would have already pushed those relationships but even in absence of that, so long as they have not told you to avoid those, pursue it. I have had bosses who insist on not delegating until it reaches crisis level and sometimes working those other relationships is better. I can be proactive too and assess what meetings they’re likely to want to attend and have them advocate to attend already, that way if a conflict occurs we can just do the “VIP is unable to attend but Deputy still has availability. Please let us know if you’d like to proceed or reschedule” and that’s such an easier conversation for all.

    4. leslie knope*

      Huge plus one to this. And let me add: deepen your relationships with your counterparts in the offices of people she needs to meet with frequently. The admin on the president’s side is also dealing with the same thing you are; if you can try to develop camaraderie there, it will make it feel so much less like You vs. Them and more like collaborating with colleagues to solve a tricky problem.

  19. ann*

    Being a tactful messenger is very much OPs job, even if I get why they don’t want to do it. I couldn’t. But I have an idea for a perspective that might give them back some agency: As much it is OPs job to be the front line on those kinds of communications, it is also their job to report back to their boss. And if their knowledge of the situation lets them reach the conclusion, that approach X might anger the meeting partner to much because of exhibit Y that boss is not privy to, they should communicate that, so that the boss can decide on the priorities with a full picture.

    1. Observer*

      As much it is OPs job to be the front line on those kinds of communications, it is also their job to report back to their boss. And if their knowledge of the situation lets them reach the conclusion, that approach X might anger the meeting partner to much because of exhibit Y that boss is not privy to, they should communicate that,

      I think that this is a very important point. Along with the point that working with the other high level admin staff is a good idea.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Yes! This was my first thought too. Really successful EAs/manager relationships include this kind of critical feedback too.

      The caveat is that you have to have a good nose for, “we can’t afford to piss off the Oatmeal Polishers Guild because we’ll need them come election time and we’re in danger of that” vs “I hate calling the Oatmea Polishers Guild because the president’s EA is always snotty, but she has no decision-making ability on any of Politician’s priorities”. If it is the former though, that’s definitely worth feeding back.

  20. Observer*

    OP, I think you know that you really, really cannot do this. Never mind even considering lying to your boss- that’s just toxic. It’s good that writing it out made you realize that it’s a nonp-starter.

    But even just hiding things from your boss is a really bad idea. For one thing, as Allison says, you have no way to know when this information could come back to her. Best case, it’s just going to be something that erodes trust and good will from your boss, and worst case it could wind up blindsiding her. Also, When you hide stuff, it deprives her of relevant context. Like your current meeting situation – the request for rescheduling is likely to annoy the, but a unilateral decision to just not have her go might annoy them even more. Which is a problem on its own. But your boss also is not going to know that they are *extra* annoyed about this, because she doesn’t actually know that you never gave them the choice.

    The bottom line is that this is part of your job. I think that the kind of language Allison suggests plus the kinds of acknowledgement other commenters suggest, both when asking about changes and once things have been settled (for the moment) are helpful.

    Also, if you decide that you simply no longer have the stomach for this, it’s perfectly fine to start planning your exit.

  21. Busy Middle Manager*

    I was a very low level admin for a famous politician back in the day. “No” to the question as you frame it, but I do think you have a case for pushing back against a few things. At that politician’s office, scheduling was a huge deal, but it mostly meant saying “no but here is a signed letter you can frame” beforehand.

    I know everyone is going to say “it’s your job” but on the internet, it’s always easy to follow advice one wouldn’t want to follow themselves. And while they’re sort of right, filling up your day with calendar changes is ridiculous.

    I think the politician needs to start accepting more invites as “tentative” or not at all. I’m also questioning all of the “emergencies.” I mean, a vote here or two, yeah. Moving things around to go speak at a funeral or natural disaster? Will happen a few times a year maybe. Gets caught in traffic and can’t make it to the last event of the day? More common. But for it to be a core part of the job (unless you could be stretching the truth since you hate the task so much)? They are overcommitting and not correctly labelling events by priority level.

    1. Random Academic Cog*

      Very context-dependent, because I work with some people who really do need to personally be involved in an unreasonable number of meetings interspersed with critical or emergency situations that can’t be predicted or scheduled. They often delegate the actual downstream work (because when would they have time to do it?), but their input is distinctive and does make a difference for the high-level decisions that need to be made. I’ve also worked with people who believed their own schedules to be more sacrosanct than people far more critical than themselves, but that doesn’t sound like it’s the case here.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I know everyone is going to say “it’s your job” but on the internet, it’s always easy to follow advice one wouldn’t want to follow themselves.

      Interestingly, since you posted, it seems like around half of the commenters saying what you predicted came from people who *have* been in this position and *have* followed their own advice. So, I don’t think it’s fair to characrerize the advicd as an internet thing. Rather, rescheduling is a fairly common part of an admin assistant’s job.

  22. Sensitive admin*

    Boy oh boy did this take me back to my time working as an admin assistant in law firms. LW, I have been in this position many times, I often had to take the backlash, and it sucked beyond belief. It’s really hard to quell the impulse that you’re having right now; reading your letter, I’d have wanted to do the exact same thing.

    (For reference, I worked at a medical malpractice defense firm; studies have shown that doctors get sued not just for messing up, but for messing up + being rude to the patient and their family. These doctors were pretty rude to me too! I don’t have phone anxiety, but I would get really nervous before calling them and pray they sent me to voicemail.)

    That being said, Alison’s advice is spot on. Definitely make it clear that proceeding without your boss is an option, because that puts it on the other party to decide which inconvenience they’d rather have. If you don’t already, have some boilerplate responses ready (“I will let her know that you’re frustrated,” etc) and try to keep in mind that they’re telling you what they wish they could tell your boss. It has nothing to do with you. Getting scolded at work will obviously make you feel shitty, but in this case it’s actually a result of you doing your job well.

  23. hereforthecomments*

    I just want to say that I understand, although the person that I worked for was not as important. But it was A LOT of meetings, with a lot of rescheduling, working with others to find dates and aggravation all around and I hated that part of the job. I used some of Alison’s approaches: I was always apologetic, for instance. That goes a long way. I’ve been on the receiving end of rude demands to reschedule and let’s just say I was not as willing to rearrange certain things for that type of request. If it was true and not confidential, I also would pass along the reason: something along the lines of “she’s been called into a last-minute meeting with the Board/President/CEO.” That tends to shut down the whining immediately because it’s not a choice on their part; when summoned at that level, you go, no questions asked, no matter what’s scheduled.

  24. Falling Diphthong*

    Because of the massive amounts of work and hectic schedules, she would never know… If I lied that I asked and they said no, she would never know.
    OP, so many epic tales of disaster have reasoning like this early on. Don’t become a legend for the wrong reasons.

  25. Teekanne Aus Schokolade*

    As a former PA, just ask your boss about the image she would like you to convey in these situations! Once you get it into your mind that you’re just acting according to a scripted role (think Disney employees/customer service) and that your job is to get very good at diplomacy, you’ll worry a lot less about what everyone thinks all the time. PA Jobs are IMPOSSIBLE if you have any people pleasing tendencies, which sounds super counterintuitive.

  26. Anon for this one*

    I have absolutely been where you are and it really sucks to be in a position where you have to deliver bad news you don’t really have control over, but sometimes it’s just not avoidable. Definitely don’t just not ask, though!

    Can you bring your concerns to the Chief of Staff and see if they have a sense of the political capital that your boss will use up if they have to cancel/miss the meeting? It may be true that these people will be frustrated in a way that your boss isn’t quite understanding from your description of it, but it may also be that their annoyance is a cost that they’re willing to pay to avoid upsetting the other person/group they’re meeting with instead.

    If the COS is approachable (or the legislative director/district office director depending on the content of the meeting that’s being missed and how big your staff is) I’d take one last run at explaining it to them to see if they have suggestions about the best way to proceed. Sometimes they’re better able to move the boss than the scheduler, even though it shouldn’t be that way. And then sometimes you just have to do it anyway, but you can at least know you tried.

  27. aunttora*

    Ugh, I hated scheduling more than anything back when I was a legal secretary. I’ll never forget one time I was told to call opposing counsel and ask if an upcoming deposition could be at his office instead of ours, due to some conference room conflicts. It was his witness and I (being young and dumb) thought he’d be happy or even prefer to have it on his territory. I still don’t know why he didn’t…. But anyway, he refused and proceeded to unload on me, a 20-something secretary, about my boss’s shenanigans. (There were none, this particular attorney was beyond reproach in the realm of ‘nanigans.) I finally said something like, I’ll relay the message to Attorney, but I don’t know what good yelling at me does. He did in fact apologize, but I knew at that moment I would NEVER again accept a role that involved scheduling other people.

  28. NYWeasel*

    You know what? I’m feeling slightly contrary today, but if you have a solid relationship with your boss, what’s stopping you from saying in the moment “That meeting is pretty time sensitive and they weren’t happy when we rescheduled before. Do you definitely want to attend, or would this be a good opportunity to get this meeting off your calendar by having us cover off on it?” As long as you’re framing it in a helpful “do you want us to take this off your plate” way, I can’t imagine a decent boss being put out by the question, and maybe you can cut down a little bit on when you have to ask others to reschedule.

    1. Donn*

      Now that NYWeasel mentions it, does OP’s boss even know how irritated the other people were about rescheduling the first time?

      OTOH, politicians may not care how much they inconvenience others. Some non-politicians don’t either,

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        Or they do care, but have to do it anyway. Again, if the president calls and says he can only fit you in for 5 minutes on Tuesday morning and you’ve been trying to meet with him for 3 months, you make yourself available. Even while thinking how much you hate having to put off Constituent Group again. Go a level up – even the president has to drop everything when a head of state dies or a war breaks out. You can’t just not go to Queen Elizabeth’s funeral.

        I know it sucks for LW, but I imagine it sucks even more to be LW’s boss constantly shuffling her own schedule around. Dropping everything (again!) to travel to some meeting (again!). It’s not a job I would want.

    2. amoeba*

      ” I told my boss that it’s likely not going to happen and that it was very difficult previously, and she wanted me to still ask and if they can’t reschedule, we will attend the meeting without her.”

      It feels like they tried to push back – but I agree with you, stating clearly that you think it would be hurting their capital could help. Not sure how clear LW was not only on the difficulty of rescheduling, but also the “annoyance” part.

  29. Hiring Mgr*

    Even if you did lie this time and she never knew, doing that would make it easier to lie in the future, and eventually it would backfire and blow up on you.

    Either way though as others have said, it sounds like a core part of the job – I don’t know if this is a new position for you, but if so you may just get used to it after a while anyway.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Someone above writes about “don’t become a legend in the wrong way.”
      Once will probably slip by, but it will be come easier and you will become more sure you are doing the best/most efficient thing. Even if you do it three times, someone may interpret it in the worst way. Then your boss hears from someone who hears from his/her own support team, “oh, yeah, only VIP level 2+ gets facetime. Staff attends attends XYZ and lower.”
      And it may not be true. It may look that way on paper or one person’s experience, but people talk.

  30. Two Fish*

    Before one trip, I told my boss multiple times that there was no evening/night return flight from any airport at their destination. All last flights of the day were 5:00-ish.

    On their return date, they called me to ask about a later flight (again). I called our travel agency, even though I already knew the answer. They understood that I did it so I could truthfully tell my boss I confirmed again with Travel, that there was no later flight that night.

    Sometimes one just has to go through the formalities.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I feel ya. I have done my share of confirming what I knew. It’s not worth the stress. “Did you check?”
      (I don’t have to check. I spoke with Bob and I wrote it down.)
      I did. I just called. No luck.

  31. Hengabecka*

    This sounds a lot like my job (in a university) although luckily the stakes and the seniority politics is slightly less intense! As awkward as it can be sometimes to mess people around, it is a key part of the job and you do have to do it.

    Get as friendly as possible with the assistants for your boss’s main contacts; they will completely understand the competing pressures you all operate under, and you will be able to talk to them about tricky scheduling issues in a non-stressful way. It’s inevitable in your line of work that you’ll do a lot of apologising for things that are not your fault – and often things that you could have resolved better yourself if people would just let you! – but one of the reasons VIPs have assistants is so that someone else has to do this ‘dirty work’ for them.

    You can train yourself to see these things as puzzles to be solved, or you can sink under the cringe of upsetting people and make yourself miserable. Cultivate your relationship with your boss so that you can speak frankly to her about the difficulties, but be prepared for her to say – sorry, I know it’s a pain but that’s what I employ you for.

    People’s irritation with your boss’s lack of availability is not personal – let it waft past you, don’t soak it up!

    1. Alisaurus*

      Yes! Forming relationships with other admins is so helpful!! I’ve found that helps all of us get a better understanding of what the others’ are dealing with (if only in a broad sense), as well as helps with the not-taking-it-personally thing on either end when stuff comes up.

    2. Silver Robin*

      I was looking for this comment – admins absolutely understand other admins and will absolutely work with you to figure out tricky stuff together!

    3. J*

      My go-to admin at another business just left and it’s almost more devastating than losing someone for my employer. That’s how close we got coordinating schedules.

    4. pivot*

      I love the perspective of treating it as a puzzle to be solved. I don’t have scheduling experience, but I do have experience with having to change plans at the last minute do to unfortunate events. I have to quickly accept the reality and move immediately into problem solving mode. When I present it to others as “how can we come up with a solution” instead of lamenting the unfortunately events, everything goes more smoothly. Being able to say to your fellow admins, “okay, we have a situation. How can we solve it?” with a “we’re all in this together” vibe seems like a good approach.

  32. Alisaurus*

    As an assistant, I totally understand where the LW is coming from on this one. My last job had an extremely meeting-heavy culture that also meant I played Meeting Tetris multiple times a day (I managed 2 different execs’ calendars). For me, it was about understanding that this is just how it was, that those execs were extremely busy, and that others would understandably be frustrated with rescheduling AGAIN but that they weren’t frustrated AT me. Not taking it personally and letting it just roll off my back were key.

    My go-to scripts were along the lines of, “I really apologize to have to do this, but Boss has an unexpected conflict and we need to shift this.” If it’s something where you can convey what that is, it could help. For example, if Company Owner had requested a meeting, then telling the others that was the reason really helped. But sometimes it was a last-minute change to a doctor’s appointment that I couldn’t exactly reveal, so I just had to go with a vague “conflict.” It was a little harder at first to hit that sweet spot, but I figured out my rhythm.

  33. Fluffy Fish*

    Alison’s and the commentors advice has been pretty good and thorough.

    I just want to add that if you really really really hate a component of your job – that’s a valid reason to look for a change. Even if you enjoy everything else.

    Every job has components we don’t like, but if a crucial job function fills you with dread and misery, it’s ok to decide this role isnt quite right for you.

  34. Marna Nightingale*

    I feel like there’s a big gap in job training for all sorts of things in learning to let other people’s emotions go through you and not stick to you.

    (This is sorta related to the conversation awhile back about how “phone skills” is a real skillset but nobody teaches it)

    I mean “don’t take it personally, it’s not personal” is great and true advice, and so is “you have to learn to let it go”, but I increasingly think that this isn’t so much a form of personal growth as an actual skillset it should be possible to define and teach.

    In the short term, all I can offer to OP for their sanity is: expressing empathy and sympathy and validating people’s frustration isn’t admitting to being wrong, and not only does it make the person easier to deal with, it actually lowers YOUR stress.

    It’s useful to regularly remind yourself to think of it as “we’re all a bunch of seasoned professionals wrangling a pack of important people with busy schedules” instead of “I have to get them to change something so I won’t have to.”

    1. Sloanicota*

      I agree. Part of the skillset is in re-interpreting the grumbling and angry pushback when you get it. “Ah, they’re frustrated by how difficult it is to schedule busy people” not, “oh no, they’re mad at me!” Even if their email is pointedly personal, you can still sort of reframe it as a cost of doing business rather than a thing you did wrong and need to apologize for.

  35. Dust Bunny*

    Also, I guarantee you that every entity that you’re asking to reschedule has asked other entities to reschedule when it suited them, so it’s not like your boss is unique in this. It’s part and parcel of this kind of work, where everyone is busy and there is a lot of jostling for status.

  36. Ellis Bell*

    Ah, OP who would be the bearer of bad news if they didn’t have to be, eh? I think the problem is you seem genuinely embarrassed and think this is rude, even though everyone in the mix seems to understand your boss is just following very well laid out priorities. While it probably helps you in your role a lot, for to sound empathetic and listen to the practical issues of rescheduling, you don’t need to take such notice of everyone’s woes that you take it all the way in to your heart as Wrong and to Be Avoided. It’s perfectly possible to sympathise and say it’s something you regret, while also reiterating that emergencies and rescheduling issues can and do happen. If people get irritated near you, that’s human and you can just let that flow past; if they’re getting irritated at you, it’s a little bit jerky to take it out on you and really not something you have to pay attention to over and above your boss.

  37. Cat Wrangler 3000*

    OP: like many here I can feel your pain with this. The high level person I worked for routinely had changes to her calendar to the point that I started documenting which meetings had been rescheduled more than 3 times to ask her if she really truly did need the meeting. One time I did what you said and just cancelled it and never rescheduled. She never noticed but… I always waited for her to say what about x meeting LOL.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      You and the “I ordered 3000 copies of something by mistake and dumped them in a creek” should have drinks. Or play the lottery!
      (once again, I’m only conversational, not fluent in AAM, so I don’t remember all the details. It was a reply under one of the “what did you screw up at work?”

      1. Cat Wrangler 3000*

        Haha I wouldnt do it again but it was definately a moment in which I realized it was time to apply to other jobs

  38. The Baconing*

    As an Executive Assistant myself, I understand the frustration in OP’s letter. From experience, when scheduling is hectic, I find it’s easy to slip into the mindset of being defensive of both my executive’s needs and those on the other end because you’re trying to take care of everyone, as a good EA should do. However, I find it is very important to remember not to take anything personally. Ire from anyone can feel like a personal attack when you’re already sensitive to the optics of having to push out meetings when you already know it is horrendously inconvenient to everyone involved. I urge OP to look at things from the perspective of the Godfather. It’s not personal, it’s business, and sometimes that means things happen that people may not like. Their anger has nothing to do with disliking you and/or your executive. It’s simply part of the job.

    I think, if OP can find that mentality and center on it, it could help with what I think I’m reading as anxiety at having to constantly push back and/or inconvenience people because, as Alison said, reasonable people will know and understand that OP’s executive has an overly busy schedule.

  39. Jess*

    OP, its all in the phrasing: ” The president realizes the event has been rescheduled once, however, there is now a conflict. We regret to inform that it has become impossible for her to attend with our team on that date. If rescheduling is a possibility, do let me know.”

    Ball is in their court, if they want her, they’ll reschedule.

    15 years of scheduling, it is stressful, but understand, there is no place for emotional components, other than patience and gratitude when folks can or will work with you.

  40. Random Academic Cog*

    I work closely with one of those leaders and there are times when my issue is the emergency that’s causing other folks’ meetings to be shuffled, so I intimately understand why so many of our previously scheduled meetings are canceled or rescheduled. She genuinely wants to be involved in all the decision-making expected of her role (and provides valuable input when she IS in the middle of those discussions – so definitely not like situations we’ve seen on AAM where her presence is useless under ideal circumstances). That said, I see both sides here and can assure you that even when I’m getting a bit aggravated at the circumstances or the 3rd reschedule of an important meeting, I never doubt that her saint of an assistant is doing everything she can to minimize the pain for everyone else. I think most reasonable people understand that reality and for the unreasonable people – well, there’s just not much you can do to make it better for them so don’t spend much energy on it beyond whatever basic effort you make for everyone.

    Oh, and it’s not uncommon that the scheduled meeting is inconvenient for me anyway (like the one next week where I intended to take the day off), but her schedule is more complicated and critical than mine and I can’t turn down a meeting request unless there truly is no way for me to adjust my own schedule. I will not be unhappy if my emergency meeting gets bumped by a few hours or a whole day. But her admin doesn’t have any way to know that since I didn’t push back when she offered the single slot within vaguely office-ish hours (created by cutting another person’s time in half) that could happen in the necessary time frame.

  41. Boof*

    Honestly LW, I understand the temptation but you are doing everyone a disservice by trying to make the decisions for them instead of giving them the options.
    I think the important thing is to acknowledge that it is disappointing and that you know it’s a lot of work, and stress that the options are to meet with out Boss or to attempt a reschedule again, with the understanding that something might come up again.
    I think acknowledging that it sucks and that people are trying hard to make it work, but that the reality is other emergencies can come up so they can prioritize whether they just need to get it done or prioritize meeting with boss and trying to keep rescheduling.
    When people get irritated, you can both validate their feelings – it is frustrating! – but also redirect to what the options are, stressing that it could happen again if they reschedule again and it’s just the reality of the system.

  42. Pocket Mouse*

    Agree that you just have to do this. Given that, what will make the process easier on *you*? A commenter above suggested switching your mindset to assume anything scheduled will likely get rescheduled, so that you’re pleased on the occasions it doesn’t rather than chagrined when it does. What else might work for you? Have reschedule request template language ready to go, think of it as an ongoing temporal Tetris game, indicate to external people up front that the meeting will be attended by staff well suited to address any needs (and Politician will attend if she can), treat yourself to something both healthy and enjoyable every time you have to send a reschedule request, etc. Or work on finding a new job. A lot of letter writer say they love their job except for this one thing, and I don’t see that kind of language here. This might be a put-up-with-it-until-you-find-something-better situation… but still good practice for putting up with other things you’ll not want to do down the line.

  43. Diplomat*

    Keep in mind, your not doing the meeting host a favor by not asking. In fact, you’d be taking away their choice in the matter. They may very much prefer to reschedule to have her in attendance than to meet without her, and if you don’t ask, your taking away their option to state their presence and have it met…

    It appears to be in everyone best interest that you ask, especially since you have this great script from Alison.

  44. OtherAllison*

    Hi! Former political staffer/scheduler here. Yes, scheduling in political offices is the absolute worst. So definitely not discounting your experience there. Frankly, if the people you are rescheduling on aren’t amenable to rescheduling, then they haven’t been involved in the space for very long. Rescheduling is a simple fact of the political world. There were occasions where we would get a call from a committee chair that we had to be somewhere in five minutes and I had to cancel on people as they were walking into the office and I had to take the meeting instead of the Senator. It just is what it is to be perfectly honest, and I understand that now that I am on the other side in lobbying. Anyways, I guess the only advice I would give is there were certain things that I wouldn’t schedule around at all. Caucus might end at 2 but had a high likelihood of going until 5, Senator likes this lobbyist so if I put them down for a thirty minute meeting he will go over by sometimes an hour so not scheduling anything next to the meeting, color coordinating the calendar and each staff member gets a color on the calendar and also knowing everyone’s issue area for quick reassignment of meetings, having template emails ready to go for cancellations/rescheduling and always asking for any materials from a meeting if it can’t be rescheduled… Anyways, it is always a learning curve and each office handles scheduling differently so just give yourself some grace. This is turning into a bit of a word vomit so apologies for that, but my best advice is just be organized as much as humanly possible. Always try to have your ducks in a row and be ready for things to get blown up schedule-wise because it is an inevitability.

  45. bamcheeks*

    LW, one thing to think about is that sometimes YOU may know more about the relationship with a particular group or organisation and that’s information that might be useful to your boss. You can’t do this every time just because you don’t want to have to ask about rescheduling, but sometimes, “The Oatmeal Polishers Guild are a bit tetchy with us because we’ve rearranged that twice, and I’m worried it might be affecting how they perceive us. Do you definitely want me to try and re-schedule before we default to Veronica and Ronald attending instead?” That way, the decision still rests with your boss, but you’re making sure she’s aware that rescheduling is an issue.

    This works if you’ve got a good relationship with your boss and she trusts you to have a good sense of what the relationship is and how it should be prioritised. It can’t be something you do just because Sarah at the Oatmeal Polishers is always kind of snotty, unlike Julia at the Cereal Examination Guild who is always lovely no matter what. But if you think that another reschedule will damage the relationship, not just cause people to be pissy at you, you can let your boss know that.

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      Oh THIS. I work in a client-facing role, I develop good relationships with them, and I’m good at my job. Sometimes my boss gets pressure from his boss to do something, and he gets asked to do something that I think will damage the relationship.

      Often I’m able to get the way we go about doing it changed so that I think we can maintain the relationship, even if it’s not exactly what was asked originally. Sometimes I’m able to prove enough of a threat to the relationship that it gets dropped entirely.

      And sometimes I have to do it exactly as asked, and in that case I have to remember that I’m representing my company, not myself – if it blows up, I did my job by warning them, and if it doesn’t, I learned a new way of handling things.

  46. Anya Lastnerve*

    I used to manage a team responsible for enforcing a necessary but very unpopular policy. I frequently got calls from employees who were angry, irritated, emotional, looking to vent their frustrations at me. What I found to be the best approach was to (1) let them get it out of their system and when they stopped (2) acknowledge their frustration- “first off, I want to say that it sounds like this has been a frustrating experience for you, and I’m sorry for that.” Nine times out of 10, just acknowledging that they are dealing with a bad situation deflated the tension and then we were able to work together to resolve the situation. I would suggest trying that – “I acknowledge that this is a frustrating situation to be asked to move this multiple times, and I’m sorry you have to deal with that.”

  47. pengy*

    I think the script from Allison is good.

    I do have a suggestion – yes, you work for boss. But so do a lot of other people, including those who would cover the meeting in boss’s absence. So I wonder how much you work with the other senior level people and strategize with them. If this is squarely in someone else’s camp, talking to that person to say we’ll need to reschedule, can you help? Or can you help me talk this through? Or can you preview or back door ask if they’d prefer to just go it without Boss but with contect person?

    You always work for Boss and keeping that centered is important. But building allies amonst the other staff can help smooth the way for so much.

  48. BL*

    It’s your job, so, you either do it or you find a job that doesn’t include tasks that push you outside of your comfort zone.

  49. ENFP in Texas*

    “I work as a political/administrative assistant”

    Managing schedules and rescheduling conflicts is one of the core responsibilities of this position. If it’s not something you’re comfortable doing, you should consider finding another line of work, or at least find someone else to support whose schedule isn’t as busy.

    This is one of the main reasons I never became an Executive Admin in my department when the role came open – because I knew the manager was insanely busy and the constant rescheduling and rebooking of theeir calendar and travel would drive me nuts.

  50. Moodbling*

    i do calendar management for surgeons. mostly this is fine, but I’m temporarily managing the calendar of one surgeon who routinely schedules additional surgeries during dedicated meeting time. some meetings I have to reschedule four or more times because she keeps scheduling surgeries on top of them. for some meetings, when the first set of times doesn’t work, I end up sending a message like “technically she’s available at these times, but she is likely to cancel meetings scheduled then.”

    I cannot wait to get back to supporting just people who check what the meeting is before cancelling it.

  51. Essentially Cheesy*

    I can relate very well. There was a time where I had to reach out (like call. on the phone. Like the fastest way to kill me at work) to over a hundred suppliers for quality documentation in support of an ISO standard that we were initially getting certified in and the duties were kind of soul sucking. It was a lot of cold calls to people that would normally never hear from me, and they would be confused (at the time) about the ISO standard that required this documentation/proof for supplier qualification. It was time sensitive and people just dragged their feet so much. My boss at the time was stressed out to the max about the whole process and that didn’t help – he was giving me a lot of pressure. A lot. I so much hated it – to the bottom of my soul.

    I had to reconcile it by accepting that these duties were part of my job for the time being, it wasn’t going to last forever, and just do it so it wasn’t nagging at my mental health. It got easier but I still immensely disliked it. Sometimes you have to deal with the discomfort by doing the awful duties, to manage your stress levels that you would be having later, if you ignored your duties. There would have been so many awful consequences if I had ignored my duties.

    Eventually the duties were reclaimed by a position in France (I am in the midwestern US)! Don’t give up hope, maybe things will evolve in a way that you never expect.

  52. AvonLady Barksdale*

    This is one of the few situations where the type of organization and the type of boss matters a ton. My corporate job does not matter hugely in the grand scheme of things. But your boss’s job, and your job by extension, DOES matter. It’s influential on a huge level. She’s an important person who gets called into meetings with the President. So yeah, you have to do what she asks, especially in situations like this. It’s actually important. You may think it’s difficult or annoying, but she’s not rescheduling because she needs a manicure.

    Is that stressful? Is it a big burden? Yes, it is. I’m not saying you should be thrilled to do things that make you uncomfortable or that you should be “grateful” or anything– I’m saying that your job is actually pretty important and needs to be done. And it may not be the right job for you, and that’s ok. But not doing these tasks is not an option in your role.

    The tips on how to soften the message, on how to create networks, that’s all very good. I also echo all of the previous commentors who are asking you to really look at whether this job is right for you. If it isn’t, that doesn’t make you bad at your job or lazy or unworthy– it just means that you’ve learned that these types of tasks are challenging for you and that you’d rather do something else. And I would bet that having this woman’s office on your resume will be a big plus for future employers.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Wouldn’t change my advice! I live in DC– there are a lot of people here who have very important and influential jobs. You may not know who their bosses are, but these are important people who make things run. If this woman is the head of a political organization, she’s important. This isn’t a task you can just say no to– this is the job.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yep, and you can tell who’s been in DC and who’s new by their networks and who knows that it really counts more to butter up an executive assistant or chief of staff than the VIP themselves.

  53. Mystery Mongoose*

    Since it sounds like you’ve been in this job for a while, and this has been an ongoing part of it, my guess is this particular instance is either the straw that broke the camel’s back, or there was something about the last interaction which has made you dread it more than you normally do. Whenever I come across those types of moments, I find that examining my personal scope/investment in the situation is pretty helpful. For instance, a colleague once was dreading a phone call with a client because the client was insisting that something on a tax return was wrong and should be changed, but the client was incorrect on the facts/law. So my colleague’s job was to call the client and inform her the return was correct and would not be altered. She didn’t want to do it because the client was going to argue with her and she didn’t think she could convince the client that she was wrong. Thing is: that wasn’t my colleague’s job. Once my colleague changed the mental scope of the task from “I have to convince my client that she is wrong” to “I have to inform my client that the tax return is correct and will not be changed” it became a lot easier.

    The reason my colleague and I tend to fall into those mental traps is because we want to help/fix things. If a client is unhappy because they think something is X when it’s really Z, then if I can explain to them why it’s Z then they will no longer be unhappy and I start to think *that’s* my job. But it’s not! It’s nice if I can do it anyway, but if I think I can’t, then I need to remember what my job *is* so I can focus on doing that instead.

    In this instance, you don’t want to talk to this organization because they’re already irritated and if you ask them to reschedule, they’re going to be more irritated. Here’s the thing though: irritation is going to happen no matter what you do so you have to think in terms of what will cause the least irritation for all parties.

    Your boss cannot attend the event at this particular time. So if you don’t ask them to reschedule are you just going to inform them your boss can’t come and you’ll be sending someone else instead? Is that really less irritating to the organization than letting them choose between rescheduling or accepting someone else in place of your boss?

    Your job in this moment is one of providing information and allowing someone else to choose what they want to do with it. It is *not* to magically fix your boss’s schedule, to soothe anyone else, or fix the problem. Don’t borrow problems that aren’t yours to fix.

    In the situation I described above, the client was known for being particularly mean, which was part of the reason for the dread. So I told my colleague that when people are that ugly, they’re doing it because they’re in a bad mood and they want someone else to feel bad too. And the only way to react to that is to remain sweet, agreeable, and professional because one of two things will happen depending on whether they’re doing it unintentionally or not: 1) the person will hear themselves and snap out of it or 2) they’ll get angry because they want to make you miserable and it’s not working. If it’s #1, then the tone will change and everyone will feel better. If it’s #2, then you can just sit back and enjoy it because you get to make someone frustrated and mad by doing the exact thing you’re supposed to do.

    When you call to reschedule, you don’t need to fall on your sword. All you need to do is recognize the inconvenience, apologize for it, and then give them a choice: reschedule, or accept a substitute. If you focus on what your actual job is, it will get easier. It’s never going to be fun, but again: your job isn’t to make your boss less busy and prevent schedule changes. It’s to mitigate the effects of those changes as quickly, efficiently, and professionally as you can. *That’s* the win you’re looking for.

  54. torocita*

    I used to do this same job for a movie producer, and here’s what helped me: when people would got irritated, I would tell myself that they weren’t yelling at me, they were *commiserating* with me. Like we were on the same side, and they trusted me enough to share their frustrations, since they knew I was frustrated too. It really made me feel less attacked or defensive. Because it’s true! Especially since usually the people I was calling weren’t the Big Important People themselves, but their assistants or coordinators, who were dreading having to then have the same conversation with their own bosses.

  55. thelettermegan*

    I feel your pain, and I also see some parallels in my life. So many times, my midwesternliness underminds my ability to confidently say that I know things to be true, and in many situations I’m asked to go and re-confirm something simply because I said “I believe X” instead of ‘The truth is X, deal with it.”

    In this case, you know they don’t want to reschedule, but your boss thinks you should ask for it anyway. Maybe it’d be easier to propose sending someone else as plan A, with rescheduling as plan B? It could be that their irritation is in the perception that they are waiting on your manager to have the meeting, when any representative from your team would do.

    I’ve also found that anger is an incredibly useless emotion in situations that will not change. Overcoming those situations is often only acheived by putting aside the frustration for the moment and just focusing on fixing it.

  56. Silver Robin*

    Nobody has mentioned this yet (probably because it is not a direct answer) but I want to recommend the old British radio show, Yes, Minister. It is hysterically funny and follows mainly the Minister (think Cabinet Secretary in the US) and his government-appointed assistant, who is a career civil servant. This is *not* to say that the assistant is somebody to emulate (he absolutely misleads his Minister in order to protect the civil service/do things his way), but I think you may get some catharsis from it. Or maybe it will hit too close to home, I cannot say.

  57. Amber Rose*

    Hardly a day goes by when I look at some work I have to do and go, “what if I just didn’t?”

    Alas, the answer is usually that I would no longer have a job.

  58. Jane Bingley*

    I work as an EA and this part of my job was REALLY hard in the early months and years. It’s made worse by the reality that there are times where it makes sense to make a judgment call! I can’t run to my boss about every detail, so I’m constantly saying no on his behalf.

    When it comes to not talking to my boss first, the question I ask myself is, “how would I explain this?” If I would have to lie, or fudge the truth, or I’d feel squirmy, I’d run it by him first. If I’m confident I could point to factors A, B, and C and explain why I made the call I made without worrying I’ve made a huge mistake or being embarrassed, I’d go forward.

    In terms of managing the awkwardness, I find it helpful to open with a brief apology and then be matter-of-fact. I can’t control whether people will be angry or understanding, but I can do whatever I can administratively to solve the issue. A typical email in this situation from me would be something like: “Hi all, unfortunately an immovable conflict has come up and Jane can’t make it on our current dates. Does it make more sense to move it to (new dates) or meet without her?” I don’t want to ignore the reality that I’m inconveniencing others, but I also find that being too apologetic can actually make people more upset – if I’m apologizing repeatedly, they’re more feel like they’ve been wronged and less likely to see this as simply an annoying reality of the business/politics world. Keeping it polite but brief and focusing on the specific action item or decision that needs to be made makes it a little easier. It’s still awkward, but it’s become less intensely personal with time.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Great point about over-apologizing, I have seen this play out several times and been puzzled by the response – but what you’re saying makes sense! The fact that you’re so abjectly sorry makes the other person feel like something must have really been mishandled.

      1. Silver Robin*

        +1 it is like one of those self fulfilling prophecies. If you act like it is the worst thing in the world, people will believe you and respond accordingly. Which is not to say that apologizing is bad, but keep your apology commensurate with the reason for apologizing.

    2. amoeba*

      Ha, yeah, I also like your phrasing of “which do you prefer, moving it or holding it without her”? I mean, I’d personally be a little bit more apologetic, but I really think that’s a good way of asking them without, you know, actually demanding anything of them. They can decide what makes more sense, you’re just informing them of the options. It’s certainly not worse for them than if you just decide you’ll do it without your boss – because they still have that option if they prefer it, but if they really want her there, they now know what to do. And you can tell your boss you tried and they decided it makes more sense to do it without her.

  59. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

    Adding to what people are saying: OP, if you’re this type of executive assistant, providing polite rescheduling communications is so core to your role that if this is how you’re thinking about it, you might want to pivot to another type of administrative work.

    Metaphorically, if you work at a burger stand and you hate repairing the ice cream machine every couple months, you might still overall like the job. But if you work at a burger stand and think “ugh, I have to flip burgers!? Again!? I hate that part!” … then you should find another type of job. Rescheduling meetings is the “flipping burgers” of an EA role.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      This was my thought as well. OP sounds a lot like me in every job I’ve ever had that I hated. The solution was to find a job where the thing I didn’t like to do only took a couple of hours a week rather than 30 hours a week.

  60. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    It’s okay to feel frustrated when things mess up and it means more work for you. Totally a-ok.

    What you need, if possible, is a way to relieve that and then go back to work.

    I work IT. I can’t begin to tell you how many times we’ve had to reschedule, reschedule and reschedule server outages or software upgrades because of department A’s needs only to get a call next week saying we’ll have to move it again because department B has issues.

    One time, just once, I snapped back and told my boss at the time that he could darn well do without the upgrade because I was sick of being messed about. ‘Let them eat busted servers’ said I.

    This guy, who is my mentor these days, told me that I needed to go out to the car park, sit in my car, go through every profanity I knew and do whatever I needed to calm down. (Not drive – don’t drive angry). Because there were always going to be these frustrations.

    So I understand 100% where you’re coming from. It’s not nice making that phone call of “I’m really sorry but can we move this again because there’s an important project kicking off that week?” and knowing the answer is probably going to be “no”. And gritting teeth regularly leads to dentist bills! And tension headaches.

    Find a way to allow the frustration to pass through you (Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear reworked for me), give it 30 minutes downtime and then head back.

    1. I Have RBF*

      I am living this in my current job. We have to bend over backwards for a couple “rainmaker” departments to not schedule maintenance when they are scheduled to work. They have work sites in both the US and Australia. Sometimes they work through the weekend at either one. I’m at the point of “Whatever, just let us know when you have time in your schedule for a five hour window, that’s all I need.” It actually works out okay now that my boss’s boss has regular meetings with their management, so I don’t have to punch above my pay grade.

      At first I wanted to throttle them for being a bunch of prima donna’s whose first instinct is to throw our group under the bus, even if it was their mistake.

      Now I’m used to them, and I cover my butt with lots of clear communication cc’ed two levels up.

  61. Ex-admin*

    In addition to what everyone else has said, as an ex-admin I’d caution against falling into the (somewhat inevitable) trap of letting that one thing that feels silly or unimportant to you fall fully off of your list. I know it’s tempting when you’ve got ten million things on, and this one is annoying and you know it’s going to have no impact if you don’t do it, and Sr person probably won’t notice anyway, BUT– I was once talking to an admin who told me about a task like this that she was just going to just skip. And not ten minutes later I was talking to Sr person (this was at a networking thing) who mentioned to me that her admin was supposed to do (task) but she clearly wasn’t going to do it. Sr person DEFINITELY noticed and DEFINITELY held it against her. To be fair, theirs was not the most healthy admin/sr person relationship, but the small things really are sometimes noticed and really do erode trust.

  62. So many questions...*

    My question is whether there’s political backlash. Say, she could ignore meetings with the energy minister because moving to EV is a long game. But is it the same as ignoring meetings with the defense minister while there’s an ongoing escalation? Is there some prioritization of meetings. It feels like cancellation/rescheduling isn’t quite the issue, but priorities? Who suffers if she ends up not going to the defense meeting – the target country doesn’t get aid? She can’t move the ball forward in that arena?

    I mean the simple answer is you have to do the core function, but are you taking the fallout? (constituents unhappy) or is it something that is really affecting humans in a bad way…

  63. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    I work with political figures and one thing that makes these things tricky is that often they have a rather inaccurate understanding of their own importance within the hierarchy.

    So a backbench MP from an opposition party might demand you prioritise their meeting over a meeting with a parliamentary Committee which is scrutinising your funding and can’t be moved, or a government minister who is going to make a crucial decision about your projects. I have had local council politicians do this too.

    It is hard to explain “you don’t actually have much influence”, especially to a politician who once did.

    My role is different and I enjoy managing their psychology and engaging with them on public policy issues.

    But others have asked whether you enjoy being an administrator. You might also want to consider whether you enjoy being an administrator in this particular sector.

    Some people say they hate certain roles and then they discover they’re just not suited to working with politicians. Don’t do it unless you love it!

  64. Missy*

    I work in government with political aides all the time and the thing to remember is that we KNOW it isn’t you. We know that the aides aren’t the ones making us reschedule or waste time on something or changing plans at the last minute. We are all aware that you are just the messenger, and honestly I am 100% happier talking to aides then the important person.

    It might help OP to realize that she isn’t being embarrassing and that the people she deals with do not hold her at fault for the things that she has to do on behalf of her boss.

  65. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

    You need a new job. Because managing the calendar is your job…and you don’t wanna do it…I don’t know what to say.

    I am not sure how it’s embarrassing. You’re following a directive from your boss. You would always be punching bag here, even if it wasn’t inconvenient in the way you describe, because you’re the one delivering the news. You all work for people who think they’re VIP and their meetings are The Most Important. Lots of ego is already involved in this world, so I would really encourage you to disengage and not take it personally.

  66. 2 Cents*

    Only because I’m (finally!) watching it now, but channel Sue from Veep, who has no qualms and a million ways of telling people “no” LOL. Seriously, though, it’s not that you’re personally making other people’s scheduling difficult. This is the reality with incredibly busy, in-demand people.

  67. learnedthehardway*

    I’m sorry that the people in the other organization were rude to you. I mean, it really was rude of them to vent their frustration at the scheduling change last time at you. Talk about shooting the messenger!!!

    Scheduling is a core part of your job, as others have noted. You can’t really avoid it in an administrative role. Dealing with rude people – well, that’s debatable as to whether THAT is part of your job description.

    In your shoes, I would minimize the discomfort – eg. send an email, rather than phone, if you know someone is going to be venting at you for something that is out of your control. Maybe talk to your manager if people at the other organization are abusive about this – she may be in a position to bring that up with her counterpart and to ask them to rein in their staff from being rude. Conceivably, you could also push back, and point out that “I’m just the messenger” OR “It’s inconvenient for me too” or present apologies and the request as coming from your manager – that might remind people that you are not the person putting them out.

  68. Whyamihere*

    Okay so if this persons boss is meeting with presidents and the like, I think there has been enough going on politically right now that schedules need to shift.

  69. DaniCalifornia*

    I’m also an admin and commiserate with you so much OP. This happens all of the time. I think part of my hesitation to do this is knowing that I will ask people to reschedule and they do, begrudgingly – and then at the same time knowing it won’t be the only time I do this. I have waited before because so often the plans change 3 times and I’ve asked people to reschedule when in the end, we didn’t have to because SUPER IMPORTANT meeting also gets moved.

    And it’s a problem because it trickles down. I’ve only seen it get worse with my bosses and we work for a large global technology company. It gets annoying because they (leadership as a whole) are always reactive instead of proactive. And as an admin I’m privy to lots of calendars and schedules and if they would just let me, I could plan it out better to allot more time for reschedules/working/emergencies. But they don’t. So essentially they are the cause of their own meeting woes. Which just leads to more meetings being scheduled because no one has free time to discuss problems when they arise. It’s very frustrating to be asked to support this, look for solutions, and then be ignored when I offer them.

  70. GreenDoor*

    I worked as a political aide for 8 years and I am totally with you. Cancelling and rescheduling was the worst part of the job & I dreaded it even more than angry mobs coming to public meetings. What helped me…
    Don’t just apologize – that seems to tick people off more. But an apology coupled with a genuine thank you or appreciative comment seemed to work much better.
    What Alison said is true. Most people are rational and your boss will be the one people are really upset with, not you. You are not the elected official. They are the one that needs to get re-elected to keep their job. If anyone has a really negative reaction, your boss has to figure out how to smooth that over.
    Another thing that helped was keeping a running list of how often he’d cancel/reschedule with the same person/group. Sometimes reminding him that he’s rescheduled twice on someone already was enough to get him to rethink how he wanted to reschedule.

  71. Despachito*

    I think the key here is – don’t take it personally.

    If the people are irritated, remember they are not irritated at YOU as OP, but at the SITUATION you have no power over.

    IDK how you are wired but for me it would be extremely relieving if I knew I am not at fault.

  72. Victoria Everglot*

    I feel like a lot of people (including me) are so afraid of upsetting people that they refuse to just do completely normal things like say “sorry, we have to reschedule”. You don’t have to avoid all possible discomfort! You aren’t telling them their dog died, you’re just telling them your boss needs to reschedule. If they react disproportionately that’s not your problem, whether it’s trying to head off the reaction or trying to manage it afterwards. We all have to do things that are slightly uncomfortable or awkward sometimes.

    1. The Rat-Catcher*

      I love this take. The letter advice is spot on, but I think there’s some room to say that these organizers are a little out of line too. Step away for a minute, vent to work bestie, scream into the void, but don’t take it out on some EA who’s just doing what they were asked to do.

  73. Knope Knope Knope*

    My boss is a VIP at a fortune 100 company and we are always shuffling our schedules for her. I’m never annoyed at her EA over this, or even my boss, even if the situation can sometimes be frustrating. It comes with the territory.

  74. Happy Pineapple*

    This is a core part of the job as an administrative/executive assistant. It’s often frustrating, uncomfortable, and tedious, but you need to learn to not take anything personally.

    The good news is that your boss seems to be a very important person with legitimate reasons for needing to cancel or reschedule at the last minute. It’s hugely deflating when your executive’s self-importance far exceeds reality; i.e. demanding that an entire seminar get rescheduled around his/her schedule whims when the organizers don’t even care if they attend at all.

    1. Donn*

      I interviewed for an admin job at a small field office of a midsize firm. The office managing partner insisted on meeting me too, but wasn’t available when the people I’d be working directly with were interviewing me.

      My prospective bosses were super-irritated with OMP. They felt they could choose someone without his input, and he was someone who’d make you wait two weeks for five minutes with him. Not to mention that seeing him separately came at a really awkward time at my current job.

      Afterwards, I told the recruiter I wouldn’t put my current job at risk like that again. I still fantasize about telling OMP he’s not important enough for anyone to move mountains for five minutes with him.

      1. Happy Pineapple*

        That last line is *chef’s kiss.* I have definitely worked for that kind of executive before and wished I could have said that. They want everyone to bend over backwards for them and simply can’t comprehend why *I* am failing to make their superiors do so… Clearly I’m not working hard enough, not that their expectations are out of whack.

  75. Lost academic*

    This is a major job function for you and if you don’t want to do it and can’t find a way to do it fully ,you need to find a different job. Moreover if I as your boss found out you lied about doing this part, you’d at best have one chance before getting fired because it’s a major trust issue. Not much different from you regularly pushing back about it. You know why the reschedule has to happen every time! You clearly get it. So this is bad if you can’t fix it.

  76. The Person from the Resume*

    You have my sympathies, LW. You think it is too much to ask and if you were in your boss’s place you wouldn’t even ask. Unfortunately it is your job to ask because your boss wants you to.

    I agree with Alison, and I very much loved her scripts for letting them know and putting the “blame” on your boss’s busy schedule.

    I understand your POV, but you have to do your job. They may be frustrated and they may be frustrated and rude to you, but no one is blaming you. They’re probably not even blaming your boss; they would like to meet with her because she is very important and powerful, but they should that as someone powerful and important she has higher priority people to meet with sometimes.

  77. NPOQueen*

    I know this feeling very well. I schedule for three very busy people and am backup to a VP-level person, it’s a massive headache to schedule and reschedule and RESCHEDULE again. One thing that makes it somewhat easier is that my team is great, and I enjoy them on a personal level. But outside of that, it’s a job and I get paid very well to do it. Absolutely nothing I do is personal, even if personal problems can derail my best laid plans. My folks plan out their time and their days as best they can, and I support them with this. But in a fast-moving area like politics, you have to be flexible and realize that anyone who is annoyed isn’t annoyed at *you*, and they probably aren’t even annoyed at your boss. It’s just the way things are, high level people get pulled in five million directions and may have to pivot depending on whatever fire they need to put out that day.

    If it makes you feel better, you can start your email by saying, “I know it’s unlikely, but BOSS had something come up and will not be able to make the meeting as planned. Here’s their availability for a reschedule within the next two weeks, but if those times don’t work, I’m afraid they’ll have to miss the meeting. We’ll have [non-political person] there to take notes and offer thoughts on our behalf.” Setting expectations can help you feel more control of an uncontrollable situation!

  78. I Have RBF*

    I feel this one so hard, but at least your boss is letting you know to reschedule them.

    I once had a temp executive admin job where I got all the angry phone calls when my boss blew off a meeting:

    “Where’s $Boss, we had a meeting scheduled with him”
    “I’m sorry, he’s in New York today. I don’t know when he wants to reschedule.”
    “Why don’t you get him to keep his meetings?”

    This jerk would literally do whatever he wanted, when he wanted, and his EA had to catch the flak. He did not follow his calendar at all, in fact I’m pretty sure he almost never looked at it. These were clients of the small start up, or board members, and he would just … Not. Show. Up. for meetings that he, himself, scheduled!

    People would call me and demand that I find him and make him at least join the conference call. There was no way, as an admin, that I could do that. Half the time he was on last minute travel chasing who knows what. I only saw him maybe once a week. The only phone number I had for him was his office phone, and he was only in his office for maybe two hours a week. He was also an arrogant snot, and since I “couldn’t keep his schedule properly”, they ended the assignment.

    You are fortunate that at least your boss tells you that he will be unavailable and to try to reschedule. People get even more irritated when he just doesn’t show up without an explanation, trust me.

  79. Spicy Tuna*

    Caveat that I work with my spouse, but sometimes he asks me to do things that I think are ridiculous or a waste of time, and I just frame it as “this is what he wants, don’t shoot the messenger” (not all of our vendors / contact know he is my spouse). They may be irritated at the situation, but it’s not personal or irritation with me.

  80. Tiger Snake*

    Hey OP, also remember that because you’re speaking to people who are also very busy, they are going to understand that sometimes things just conflict. They’re not going to be upset that you’ve inconvenienced them, because this is what is normal and expected when trying to get into the calendars of people this level. And if they are upset, they’re the ones not responding appropriately, not you.

    Would it help if you think of it in terms of calling up to ask people “[Boss] isn’t going to be able to make this time. Do you believe this is a meeting I can represent her at, or is it critical to have her specifically and we need to reschedule?”?

  81. EAinEU*

    I’m an EA and deal with situations like this almost every day. It’s just part of our job, try not to over think it.
    When senior leaders are part of a meeting, there is an understanding that the schedule might have to change. Nobody will blame you. If you communicate with clarity, diplomacy and respect, it will be fine.
    I find it helps to build rapport with all stakeholders so when something like this comes up it’s easier to break the news. Best wishes LW, you’ll get used to it!

  82. Lily Potter*

    LW1, my suspicion is that you’re more irritated about being moved to the satellite office than you are about the snack situation. Try to focus instead on any “perks” you might have in your new, alternative space. For example, I once worked in the “big office” and had a 7-10 minute walk from my car, through a vast parking lot, through the office complex, and to my desk. Multiply by twice a day, x4 if I left for lunch, sometimes in bad weather and quite often in the dark. My satellite office coworkers could be from their desk to their car in 90 seconds. I’m sure there’s something you get in the satellite office that people in the big office would envy?

  83. glouby*

    In managing their internal reactions, would it feel helpful to consider outsourcing the email draft to a chatbot? Just so the OP doesn’t have to “touch” this task they’re recoiling from as much?

    1. glouby*

      (And, of course, editing the chatbot-produced text to fit the situation and recipients! Not just sending the chatbot message raw!)

  84. MCMonkeyBean*

    In this particular case I would reach out and lay all the card on the tables but phrase it in a way where you know that rescheduling is unlikely. So rather than just asking “can we reschedule” them saying “no” and then saying “okay we’ll have to do the meeting without boss then, you would expect for all that in the initial communication like:

    Good afternoon,

    I know this is inconvenient and not ideal but something has come up and Boss will be unable to attend the meeting for XYZ on November 10. We can reschedule for a later date or if that will not be possible then we can move forward and hold the meeting without her presence. Please let me know your preference.



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