I just received an email which shows us a list of dates we can attend for a meeting. However, I am busy on all 3 days. How should I respond to my boss?

I would expect that I can just send:

Sorry [boss name],

I can't attend all 3 meetings because I am busy with [something] on those days.
Is it possible to reschedule it to some other day when I'm free?


But this doesn't seem enough. Is there anything else I need to include?

  • What kind of meeting is it? – scaaahu Nov 3 '15 at 13:22
  • @scaaahu It's just to discuss some ideas for our presentation – Universal Electricity Nov 3 '15 at 13:22
  • How do you define busy? Do you already have other meetings? Are you on holiday? At another office or client? Working on a high-priority project? – Lilienthal Nov 3 '15 at 13:26
  • @Lilienthal I will be having other meetings at another office. – Universal Electricity Nov 3 '15 at 13:27
  • 1
    @YummyUnicornRainbowTails Then this comes down to a prioritization question. Explain to your boss which meetings you have on other days. Don't say "sorry" or that you can't attend his meeting. Just explain the conflict. He may decide that his meeting is more important than one of the other meetings you are having. Or he may suggest something else, depending on the priority. – Brandin Nov 3 '15 at 15:01

The answer as you have written it seems reasonable and "enough". It has the necessary information, is straightforward and polite.

I wouldn't start it with "Sorry", but with "Hello" or something, but that might depend on your culture. You might want to add a few dates that would work for you as alternatives if there are other days that also wouldn't work, so your boss doesn't reschedule for those days.

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  • +1 for acknowledging cultural difference. As a Canadian I would be completely comfortable leading with "Sorry". – Myles Nov 3 '15 at 15:21

But this doesn't seem enough. Is there anything else I need to include?

I agree that it doesn't seem enough.

You might include what you are doing on each of the three proposed days, so that you boss doesn't think you are just avoiding him/her.

And you should include other days and times that would work better for you.

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I think you should combine two strategies, both already mentioned.

  1. List your conficts for each of the three proposed times. Your boss may decide the new meeting is higher priority than one of them, and ask you to reschedule or cancel the conflicting meeting to attend the new one.
  2. Also list some dates for which you have no conflicts. That will be useful information for your boss in deciding whether to pick a different time for the new meeting.

The draft response in your question implies you are making the decision that your existing meetings should take priority over the meeting your boss is scheduling. That may be the right decision, but it is up to your boss to decide that, not you.

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What you have is good enough if you give the reasons for each of the days, but I think it won't be good for you to send it. Your boss has given you three choices and you can't make any of them? This is not going to look good and it probably won't be taken very well. You're basically telling your boss that his issues are low priority.

My advice is reschedule something else so that you can make it on one of the days.

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