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It seems like many people I work with inside and outside of the company always send an email about my availability for a meeting before sending a calendar invite. Is there some workplace social norm that frowns on sending just a calendar invite without some preliminary message? After I accept, they then send the calendar invite or they even respond by saying they're going to send a calendar invite. Apparently, they know how it works.

To me, it seems like it's easier to decline or change the calendar item. I know external users may not be certain about someone's familiarity with calendar items or how their system will handle it, but it seems to work fairly seamlessly.

I thought this may be a generational issue, but it seems common across age groups and technical expertise.

EDIT: I get the calendar isn't perfect, but I still feel (after reading the answers) it is better than just an email. Even if the whole email back and forth and reply to all is limited, you're right back where you started and have to create a calendar item. Seems redundant.

  • 1
    Are your meetings what you would consider "safe to skip"? – Makoto May 17 '16 at 20:39
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    Whether it's rude depends on the company culture and the positions of the people involved in the meeting. I can expand that into a longer answer but that's basically it. Oh, and please scrap the word "millennial" from your vocabulary. – Lilienthal May 18 '16 at 9:16
  • @Lilienthal - I don't know about my vocabulary, but I removed it from the question. – user8365 May 18 '16 at 19:14
  • In my workplace, I can't see the calendars of anyone except people who explicitly share their calendars with me, and vice versa. Also, probably 90% of the workers in my company are not comfortable trying to review availability using the tools in Outlook. While that may not be the case for your company, certainly, it would be difficult to attach a blanket assessment of "rude" without knowing why they set it up like they do, and what the alternatives are that are available to them. – PoloHoleSet Sep 4 '18 at 21:06
28

I work in an office that relies heavily on Google Calendar scheduling. It is a technical group, and no doubt (almost) everyone understands that the options you outlined are available to them. Even so, here are some reasons I often find myself emailing invitations before the calendar meeting is setup:

  • The meeting isn't worth having without you. If you declining the meeting would cause a "oh shoot, guess we've got to reschedule" event, it's likely that I'll be approached you by email first. Even though Google Calendar will handle the creation and deletion of the meeting, inviting people to a meeting and then deleting it could be confusing or annoying to the other attendees.
  • If I perceive you to be in high demand. There are some people (looking at you, lead software architects) who everyone would love to have in the back of every room. Depending on the workplace culture they may be constantly bombarded with Calendar invites. If I feel I have a good reason to invite this person I may email them directly, so that my Calendar invite is not lost in all the noise. Note that the fact that Google Calendar supports the "optional" attendee tag only exacerbates this problem, because it now feels OK to invite high demand persons to non-critical meetings. But, the email invitations all look basically the same to them.
  • You're a bit flaky. If I think you might blow the meeting off, either intentionally or just forgetfulness, I might send you a email. It is harder to ignore an email sent directly to you than a Calendar invitation.

And to answer the question directly: At least in my office, no, it is not considered rude to issue an initial meeting invitation through the scheduling application. However, there are often good reasons to send a preliminary email (detailed above).

  • I also get these from people in other parts of the company in other locations who actually do not have direct access to my calendar. Or they are also sending the email to people outside the company and want to make sure the date and time is good for everyone. Further, people may have busy times that are not necessarily reflective of their meetings on a calendar. I may need to assess the meeting in light of other priorities such as a production deployment that will take place sometime on Tues or Wed. I'm scheduled 100% of the time with work, but only meetings make it onto the calendar – HLGEM May 17 '16 at 21:33
  • Maybe the problem is the company or team should address what is the best way or when a calendar item may be better than just an email. Seems like we're just making a bunch of assumptions about what others may or may not do. If only I were in charge ;) – user8365 Mar 6 '17 at 19:13
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Is there some workplace social norm that frowns on sending just a calendar invite without some preliminary message?

I would not go as far as saying frowns, but in the places I have worked it can be considered a courtesy much like holding the door open for someone. There is no requirement that you do it, but it is a nice thing to do.

As for some additional reasons why people do this (adding on to Zach's answer):

  • External users. Not everyone uses the same email system, and so sometimes accepted/declined meeting invites do not get back to the one organizing the meeting.
  • Calendars not up to date. Not everyone keeps their calendar up to date on their meetings. So some people want to know people's actual availability before scheduling the meeting.
  • Free time not the same as best time. When scheduling a doctor's appointment normally there is a type of negotiation that occurs to find the optimal time to have the appointment rather than picking an arbitrary time that you and the doctor are free. Coworkers may be reproducing this type of negotiation through email when planning a meeting.
  • Other people are doing it. If people join a workplace where this is the norm, do not be surprised when they start to do it too.
  • Fear of rejection. Some people simply do not like seeing a meeting notice declined. So the best way to avoid getting a decline is to ask before sending out a meeting invite.

I doubt it is any one reason. It likely is the culmination of several items in the answers that causes coworkers to get into a mindset of always asking before sending an official meeting notice.

  • Free time is not the best time This is the primary reason IMO. A calendar can't tell you everything and a bit of advance planning can save a lot of frustration. It also gives the (correct) impression that you value your coworkers time enough to ask before booking up their time for them. – J... May 19 '16 at 22:57
  • @J... - Most calendar systems I've used (I wouldn't assume someone outside the company had the capability.) offer the ability to decline or suggest other times. I'm not sure how an email makes that any easier. – user8365 Mar 6 '17 at 19:08
9

Are calendar invitations rude?

It depends on the invitation, and the invitee.

If I get an invitation to a meeting, and I don't know the topic, agenda, or point of the meeting, it comes across as more of a command for my presence. Often, I'll simply not bother to reply to such an invitation until I learn more.

On the other hand, a well-crafted invitation lets me know why my presence is needed, what the meeting is about, and perhaps an Agenda. In this case, the invitation itself is sufficient, and no other email is needed.

A well-crafted invitation also takes into account the availability of required attendees. For me, there's nothing worse than an invitation that I accept which is subsequently re-scheduled several times, because the moderator didn't bother to check the calendar to see if folks were actually available. In those cases, I often feel that the moderator doesn't consider my time as valuable.

  • Wouldn't responding be the best way to learn more? – user8365 Mar 6 '17 at 19:06
-6

I DESPISE Calendar invites. They are impersonal, pushy, and extremely rude. Why can't I just tell you YES or NO? Sending me a calendar invite is like saying "I think you're too stupid to know what's on your calendar and I'm going to force this into your face". Why has this plague been allowed to enter corporate culture?

  • 1
    this reads more like an emotional rant, see How to Answer – gnat Sep 4 '18 at 15:09
  • 3
    You answered this same question back in April, which was deleted because it was basically a rant against calendar invites. Can you make this answer more constructive rather than just expressing your opinion? – Snow Sep 4 '18 at 15:21
  • sounds like an answer of someone who doesn't understand how the mechanism works. on the other hand, calendar invites make humans become part of the "machine"... – axd Aug 3 at 8:45

protected by Community Sep 4 '18 at 19:03

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