Last minute requests

05Oct10

As part of registering for a particular conference call, I was asked to agree to a brief set of terms and conditions. I had a few concerns with the original language, so I sent over an alternate set of text. The conference organizer said my version was fine, and that was that.

Then, during the weekend before the conference call, the organizer sent out a new set of terms for everyone to review. This might have been fine, except that the call was scheduled for that Monday. Plus, the proposed terms were incredibly long and fairly complex. I explained that there was no way I could review and respond to this request in time, and I would thus have to reject the proposed terms.

I ended up working things out with the conference organizer, and they agreed to use the first set of terms I had sent back. But one aspect of this exchange caught my attention. In the weekend message to all the attendees, the organizer apologized for the “last minute” nature of the request. Apparently, he was aware that trying to push this on people at the last minute would be met with some resistance, though he sent the request anyway.

What’s the takeaway here? If you feel the need to apologize for making a last minute request, that’s a good sign that you shouldn’t be making that request on such short notice. Instead, the better approach is to either nix the request entirely, or push back the original schedule so people have a chance to respond properly. In other words, if your instincts tell you that you’re not giving the other party enough time to process something, they’re almost certain to feel the same way, too.



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