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?

  • 2
    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
  • 1
    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
  • 2
    @Usersysgenerated meta.stackexchange.com/questions/160960/… – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 8 '14 at 15:25

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.


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.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.