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I was replying to e-mails in chronological order. An e-mail from Bill asked me my availability to meet with him today. I replied any time after 10. Then, I read the next e-mail, and someone who I had an appointment with from 9-10 had to reschedule to 2-3. What should I say to Bill?

Should I mention another person had to reschedule and this affected me, or would this be a step towards the blame game?

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    I ways read from the the most recent email down the chain to avoid issues like this. That way if there has been a discussion bewteen when the orginal was sent and you read it, you will read the most recent stuff first, just remember to read thorugh the whole chain at that point. – HLGEM Apr 28 '14 at 16:13
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    You send in ASAP a correction to Bill stating that you mispoke and that 2-3 PM is out of the question. Done. End of story. – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 28 '14 at 16:43
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I would send another reply to Bill (in the same email chain, so they show up together):

Hey Bill,

Just wanted to let you know that I had to reschedule a meeting, so the 2-3 slot is no longer available for me. Please let me know if that's an issue.

Thanks for reading,

Bobbi

  • I agree with this approach. Most people will understand that your availability will change over time, and there shouldn't be any harm in explaining exactly what happened. – Roger Apr 28 '14 at 21:00
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For the immediate situation, if Bill hasn't picked a time after 10, just send another email saying

sorry, I spoke too soon, 2-3 is not available after all.

Now since this might make Bill feel bad, and also make you feel bad, you might want to adopt the habit of reading all the emails (or at least their subject lines) before replying to any of them. I whip through deleting spam, and just noting who various emails are from, then read the ones that seem like they might be immediately and personally relevant. After reading all of those I can reply to them all or files them, and then I can skim through the various mailing-list messages that were less urgent.

If Bill had already asked for 2-3 by the time you read the "reschedule" email from another person, you would just have to reply and say

I'm not available then - how about any time between 10 and 2?

Since that's a little awkward too, it also argues for reading everything before starting to reply.

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