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I am an intern at a software company. I was late coming in to the office today and missed a 15 minute meeting. I am having trouble deciding whether it is appropriate to apologize for missing the meeting, or if that will make a bigger issue out of it and make me worse off for bringing attention to it.

In general, how should I decide when to apologize for missing a scheduled meeting?

closed as primarily opinion-based by IDrinkandIKnowThings, CMW, Michael Grubey, user8365, jcmeloni Apr 9 '14 at 12:24

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Hey Conrad, and welcome to The Workplace! I am going to make an edit to your post to get it better answers. As explained in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective, Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”. If you think I botched it, or that the answer won't help you out, please feel free to add an edit of your own. Thanks in advance! – jmac Apr 8 '14 at 14:40
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    This question should probably be "How do I determine the appropriate response to missing a meeting?" Unfortuantly there are already 2 answers to this question that while not really helpful, would be totally invalidated if I made that edit. For that reason I have voted to close your question. If you want to make that edit I would support reopening the question though. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 8 '14 at 14:57
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    @Usersysgenerated meta.stackexchange.com/questions/160960/… – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 8 '14 at 15:25
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All of us occasionally end up missing meetings. As you get higher in organizations, you will find yourself missing meetings because the meeting from the hour before didn't end.

The best way to handle meetings you can't attend is to send an email to the organizer before the meeting if you find out that you won't be able to make it. But sometimes you can't do that becasue you are stuck in traffic or you didn't see the meeting reminder while you were concentrating on something else.

It is rude to ignore the meeting and the meeting organizer will likely be annoyed anyway that you didn't show up. So apologizing at least acknowledges that you realize you missed the meeting and gives you a chance to ask what you missed and if any tasks were assigned to you (we love to assign items to the people who don't show up!).

PLus you personally as an intern need to learn that an apology is not sufficent if the behavior doesn't change after. So if you miss a meeting because you were late to work, you had better not let that happen repeatedly. Don't be that person who blows off every task he doesn't want to do (like attend meetings) or shows up late repeatedly. You may have some flexibility in the time to get to work but that flexibility does not include getting there too late for a scheduled meeting that you knew about in advance.

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First, you need to decide if you need to apologize for missing the meeting. Why were you invited? You may have been invited informationally, so that you were aware that a meeting to discuss a particular issue was happening and so you would know a resolution may be coming soon. Alternatively, you may have been invited because you either need the information provided to effectively work or have information that someone else needs to work. If you were invited informationally, then it may not be necessary to apologize at all - your attendance was optional. However, if you were invited as a contributor, you should touch base with the meeting organizer.

If it is the case that you were invited as a participant, you should apologize and either obtain the information that you need or provide the information that you need. You shouldn't make a big deal out of it, though. A very quick apology, followed by getting or giving the information that you need to. In the future, make every attempt to either make the meeting on-time or inform the organizer of your inability to be present and provide your contributions as soon as possible (before or after the meeting).

Again - don't make a big deal about it (a brief "I'm sorry for missing the meeting, here's my contribution" and move on), don't do it in public (talk to the meeting organizer in private), and learn from your mistakes.

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You should ASAP. Always.

You do not tell if you were required to be at that meeting, but I assume so.

You already attracted attention by not showing up.

Whether it will "make me worse off for bringing attention to it" depends on several factors (I will even include "make you better off", and I assume that the apology is real):

You apologize early

People will recognize that you realized missing the appointment has consequences. If these were small they will wave it off, if they were big they will probably emphasize the consequences again. You may have to repair one of these consequences.
They will know you for 'the guy that missed the meeting and has the guts to acknowledge that'. Assuming that you do not repeat you will leave a slightly negative to a positive impression.

You apologize late

This will raise eyebrows - they will wonder why you bring it up this late.
Also, the consequences of you missing the meeting will not have changed.
If they were big somebody else had to clean up for you. In that case, you definitely should still apologize, and the mess to clean up will have grown.
If they were small, people, with time, may forget that you missed the meeting, but that won't happen fast.
You will not leave a positive impression in both cases.

For what a 'real apology' is (not) you should look at this video: How to Apologize like a Fartbag

  • let us say he missed a daily stand up meeting with 25 participants(quite usual in s/w development teams), most colleagues do not expect/welcome an apology if you miss a routine meeting. You could bring it up in a chat, but you are not required/expected by PM or other participants to "apologize". They will be happy if your missing the meeting did not affect their job, but this is situation dependent – user18524 Apr 8 '14 at 15:16
  • I am not assuming anything about what he missed - that is not in his question. – Jan Doggen Apr 8 '14 at 15:21
  • that is why I wrote it is situation dependent. I have seen people making a fool of themselves by over attaching importance to certain routine meetings in corporations. This is especially true of new recruits fresh out of college and he clearly states that he is an intern at a s/w company. There is a strong chance that he is panicking for something in reality may be not that serious – user18524 Apr 8 '14 at 15:24
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    @Usersysgenerated, the boss probably cares if the person didn't show up even if the other devs didn't care – HLGEM Apr 8 '14 at 15:25
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    You should ASAP. Always. <--There are plenty of meetings I don't apologize for missing - such as all employee meetings, etc. This answer is way too generic and doesn't really handle the types of meetings we can miss and not matter as much (perhaps huge stand up meetings, larger meetings, optional attendee meetings, etc). Painting a broad stroke like this isn't really accurate. – enderland Apr 8 '14 at 15:56

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