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Miscommunication on Meeting Time - Should I Bring It Up to Prevent Future Miscommunications Or Let It Go Once?

There was a miscommunication on the meeting time just now.
It involved 3 people scheduled to go for a video conference.
I blocked the time on my calendar, so this messed up my schedule a little bit.

One person typed a message yesterday that he could not make the scheduled timing for our discussion.
Let's call this individual, Person A.

The issue was that he texted many important consecutive messages on the group chat, and one of them was unavailability for the meeting tomorrow.
Another person, Person B, read this text but didn't reply or acknowledge this text.
This ended up with both of them assuming this meeting would be pushed back to one day after.
And I was the only one who assumed the meeting would take place as scheduled.

My Earlier Suggestion of Calendar Invites to Solve This Issue

I was suggesting that we should send calendar invites out in advance to communicate the details of the meeting clearly.
I have been doing that previously for these meetings.

However, this week, I suggested Person A to send out the meeting invite because he has a video conferencing platform and could create a link for us.
He seemed reluctant to send out this link and said that he may put the link 5 minutes before the meeting starts.
A bit messy and not to my preference, but I thought that it would be okay.

It turned out that using calendar invites would have avoided this miscommunication.
The issue is that I am the only one who interpreted the message wrongly.
As such, if I bring it up, I may come across as demanding due to my mistake for missing his message.

Maybe I could brush this off once.
If miscommunications come up again, I would bring this issue up.

What I Should Do?

I'm thinking of several possible actions:

  1. Let It Go Once
    Brush this off casually at the re-arranged meeting.
    Only bring up this miscommunication issue if it re-occurs.
  2. Suggest Calendar Invites
    Openly say that I find it hard to follow the changes in meeting time purely from messages.
    Suggest that the calendar invite would help to bring us on the same page.
    If someone needs to cancel, he can propose a different timing via a calendar invite.

    Propose the possibility of recurring meetings (Google Calendar has this function).
    This would make things easier for everyone.

  3. Suggest Acknowledgement of Meeting Cancellations
    Suggest that we should acknowledge the cancellation of meetings to prevent miscommunication.
    If it's unacknowledged, maybe a repeat message would be good.
    I think it's on the onus of the person cancelling the meeting to get this through to others because he's the one inconveniencing other people to re-arrange their schedules.

I believe number 2 to be the best because it sounds the most collaborative.
And it helps to improve the general communication and schedule of the team.

I see a few problems:

  1. Tasking problem: Apparently the person did not want to do it. Him saying he would do it 5 minutes before the meeting means: "I don't want to do it and I'll screw it on purpose".  Also, if you wanted to have it done with a certain time before the meeting you should have said so: "Could you please send it 24 hours in advance so everybody is on page"
  2. Assertiveness problem: when he told you he would do it in advance, he basically screwed you. And he asked your permission for it. You gave him your permission to do it in a way that would not fulfill the outcome. To avoid a conflict you said "yes" but you wanted to say "no".
  3. Communication problem: if it was not 100% clear that the meeting was taking place, you could have asked a confirmation from both people.
  4. Respect problem: I think that is what bothering you the most. Their low investment proves that they did not really care that much about you being informed. One of them drowned it in his communication. In this case, he makes it plausibly deniable, meaning he can say that he sent you the message. I would just learn from it and move on.
  5. Benefit of the doubt problem: I would not give these people the benefit of the doubt in this case. I would think they did it on purpose. However, I would approach it with an inquisitive mind: "why didn't you want to send the link earlier?"

So in this case, I would own that I screwed up on this one and try to understand people's reasons for not being on board. I would take the lead and propose that since it did not work as expected I'm happy to send invites to people 24 hours before the meeting (or 48 hours) and will ask for confirmation of presence. I would not make a big deal out of it but change the way it's done. I would do my best to understand their mindset, priorities and perspectives. I would not take it personally. I would not make it a problem and stay resolution oriented. However, I would amp up my dominance and take some distance emotionally with these two people: I would analyze what they want and how they perceive me. I would then act accordingly.

I would not "suggest", I would propose to take the responsibility assertively and if they refuse I would ask why. This is how you will see a change. Send the meeting time and ask for confirmation. I would look into power dynamics in this case. I would tend to believe these two people took advantage of your agreeableness. I think they knew you were not going to say anything. As Lucio says: I was not there and I'm not in your shoes. That is my understanding from the text above.

My opinion: DIY. It seems these people are not your subordinates and did not want to do what you want or proposed. If you tasked an equal, I can understand their reluctance. If he's an equal, I would have rather asked: "Is this ok if you do this? Otherwise I can do it myself" and leave it open. If I'm asking an equal it's because I don't have any other choice.

Cheers!

PS: have you studied the chapters on Career in PU?

Lucio Buffalmano and Matthew Whitewood have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoMatthew Whitewood

Several great golden nuggets in John's reply for you to explore, Matthew.

A few more things:

He seemed reluctant to send out this link and said that he may put the link 5 minutes before the meeting starts.

This might have been a chance to surface the issue: "you don't seem happy about this option, something about it bothers you? Is it too difficult for you"?
After that, you would probably either gotten a "no, don't want to do it" or a far more convinced "yes, I see the point of doing it" (both better results).

Personally, I would talk about the issue.
I'd first say "it was my bad for not understanding". Then say that if people want the meeting to be moved, to avoid miscommunication it's better going forward if they state they want to move the meeting rather than simply say "I can't attend".
And then maybe also add that in general, you should all try to make it, since important issues are best discussed live, rather than via text messages.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Also, consider this:

From a power dynamics perspective, teams with no clear leader tend to be more challenging.

The power dynamics get messier and more complicated, and can become an impediment to the advancement of the common interest.

Consider going forward -or in your next projects- to have one designated CEO / project lead, however you want to define.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Also, one more thing for you to consider: watch out that you don't become the "stickler for the rules".

You might not even be one, but if others consider you to become one, then that becomes reality, and you might lose power, status, and influence, since "stickers for the rules" are low on power.

Of course, you can still inforce the rule, just be careful on how you do it, plus making sure the mindset/approach comes throguh (mindset being that the rules support the business and goals, rather than "following rules for rules' sake").

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thanks a lot John and Lucio.
Very much appreciate the advice.
It is quite enlightening.
I have much to think about the underlying team dynamics.

I did study the career section of PU.
It contains very valuable concepts and techniques, which I use.
I do review them to use how to improve my skills in those areas.

I see a lot of underlying issues here and am a bit afraid that I am not handling this very well.

Quote from John Freeman on March 6, 2021, 2:01 pm

My opinion: DIY. It seems these people are not your subordinates and did not want to do what you want or proposed. If you tasked an equal, I can understand their reluctance. If he's an equal, I would have rather asked: "Is this ok if you do this? Otherwise I can do it myself" and leave it open. If I'm asking an equal it's because I don't have any other choice.

Thanks John, I probably should have been clearer when describing the team arrangements in my original post.
They are my project teammates so I would say that, on paper, we are equal.
It is a project arrangement separate from a company, and we have chosen to enter as teammates.

I think a good analogy is if you left your hospital and open up your own clinic with another person.
Mine is much simpler regulatory-wise.
It's a small team with different external people to deal with.

I have been investing more time into the project than the others.
I believe this is a warning sign but it could be too early to say.
We managed to hit deadlines and work together through some issues.

In this sense, I have come out with more detailed plans and pushed to split the work more equally.
Because I don't see the other people wanting to come out sufficient time outside meetings to come prepared enough with a detailed plan.
That being said, I can see as equal project partners on paper, they would like to have a significant amount of influence in decision-making.
As such, I get their input and ask them what they think of the way forward.
The problem is that sometimes they are quite adamant despite not being well-prepared.
I have to give them rope to show that their ideas are not well thought out.

Summary Here

I feel that they are not putting in sufficient effort the leading the team forward.
This is why I am deciding to take on these "leadership responsibilities".
If not, things may start falling apart.

I will talk more about this issue on Lucio's suggestion next of putting in a project lead role.
This also ties in with the lack of delineation in areas of responsibilities.

Delineating Areas of Responsibilities

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on March 6, 2021, 4:16 pm

Consider going forward -or in your next projects- to have one designated CEO / project lead, however you want to define.

I brought up defining our areas of responsibilities better.
It seems that there was some reluctance.
I talked about it in a way that we discussed how we do things first rather than titles.

One big red flag has been that we have been doing too much work and discussion during meetings.
Our meetings keep going for too long.
The others were clear in terms of tasks to do outside meetings but not areas of responsibilities.
This makes it unclear what initiatives they need to explore outside our discussions.

I proposed that I will take on the product role since I have experience in this area and have been contributing to these efforts for the team.
And the other person (the one who cancelled the meeting) could take on the CEO/project lead role where financing would be a major responsibility.
I sensed some reluctance for people to take on these roles.

As such, I wanted to bring this conversation up at a later date once we achieve more clarity about what areas we prefer.
I proposed that we rotate through different areas initially to figure out what we prefer.

Now it's not so complex so we can get through with not having titles and official delineation of responsibilities.
Slightly inefficient but I take that as part of the process of figuring out how to work together.
Though I have to admit that we can definitely do this better.

Perception of Stickler for the Rules

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on March 6, 2021, 7:17 pm

Also, one more thing for you to consider: watch out that you don't become the "stickler for the rules".

You might not even be one, but if others consider you to become one, then that becomes reality, and you might lose power, status, and influence, since "stickers for the rules" are low on power.

Of course, you can still inforce the rule, just be careful on how you do it, plus making sure the mindset/approach comes throguh (mindset being that the rules support the business and goals, rather than "following rules for rules' sake").

It seems sometimes they appreciate that I put in the effort to organise and plan for the team.
Because it helps everyone move forward in the same direction.

In other times, they think that I am over-organising.
And that happens more often when I try to involve them in the organisation process.
For example, could you help to send out the calendar invite?
Or do you mind helping to put together a plan for this?

Potential Remote Arrangement Issues

Things that may add up to the trust & communication issues:

  1. We have never met in person but decided to work together during the covid-19 period last year.
    We wanted to solve a problem that requires our different locations.
  2. Miscommunication due to virtual remote working.
  3. We may not have evaluated each other's commitment, values, working habits properly enough.

Quote from John Freeman on March 6, 2021, 2:01 pm

Benefit of the doubt problem: I would not give these people the benefit of the doubt in this case. I would think they did it on purpose. However, I would approach it with an inquisitive mind: "why didn't you want to send the link earlier?"

John, I think you are right here.
Thanks a lot for the advice.
I finished the re-scheduled meeting.
Yeah, I think there was some manipulation there.

The person who cancelled the meeting tried to do some social credit scalping in the meeting today:

Him: I understand that it's a weekend, and people may have other plans.
So I'm flexible with shifting things around.
Sometimes there may be last minute plans.

Essentially, he made himself sound like a person who is flexible towards inconveniencing himself.
And he erased the social debt of cancelling the meeting at the last minute.

That being said, we managed to resolve this issue of scheduling meetings in the future.
The calendar invite has been sent out for future recurring meetings, and now we don't have to think so much about the details.

Summary

It seems he knows that he inconvenienced me but didn't want to admit it.
Verbally, he wanted to show himself as a flexible person.
In terms of actions, he showed that sending out the links in advance would help the team.

Why Do I Think That John's Insight Is On Point?

On a separate matter, person A showed frustration about a vendor tasking our team to do something.
It was some compliance checks.
He told me that he wanted to send a rude email back.

Secondly, I pitched an idea initially.
We talked about another topic after a while.
Then he casually took this idea and spun it as his own.

I think that he likes the feeling of being in control and tasking others.
For example, when he suggests me to do something that I think is very valuable and am in a better position to execute, I would just do it.
But he doesn't deal with suggestions in the same light.
Often when it comes to small tasks as well.

What I Find Works

When I give person A the feeling of control, I can get the team to reach a decision faster.
I can also just take the resistance as part of the process for the idea to be implemented.
All this is part of the persuasion process.

For example,

Me: You gave me a great idea to explore.
What do you think about going in this direction ...? (leaving out the content for bevity)

Summary

My proposals/suggestions often get implemented in the end.
However, it is always met with some initial resistance.
Sometimes, I feel that it is because person A wants to maintain power in the team.
So he needs to show resistance and sometimes want to spin them as his own proposals.

I compare this with person B on the team.
He gives critical and valuable feedback, but it lacks this "power dynamic" element of resistance.
His feedback is objective and productive, whereas person A's feedback sometimes feels like resistance for the sake of resistance.

I think that this is why I have been feeling frustrated in these meetings and conversations.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

My proposals/suggestions often get implemented in the end.
However, it is always met with some initial resistance.

As you noted, persuasion and influencing are in large part about power.
And in good part about priorities and antifragility: do you prioritize your victory, or reaching a goal?

It's possible A has an ego that gets in the way, and prioritizes power over reaching goals.

That doesn't make it him an ideal person to work with, especially not when you're "on par", since that means that he feels there is a continuous negotiation for power that he must partake in.
That's not to say you can't make it work, though.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?