It would be nice if we could always be on time for every appointment we make, but unfortunately that isn’t realistic. Sometimes unexpected things happen and we just aren't available when we thought we would be.
When it happens, be prepared with the right expressions to help you smoothly change to a time that is convenient for everyone. In this article, we’ll cover some useful expressions for rescheduling meetings that are great for email and text messages, but also phone conversations and even when talking face-to-face.
The procedure for rescheduling usually follows the same basic steps:
- Apologize for not being able to meet at the original time
- Give a reason why you must reschedule
- Suggest a new time to meet
For the first part, you can use standard apologies like “I’m (really) sorry, but~” or “Unfortunately~.” After that, try one of the following expressions.
This is used when you need to meet later than the original time you decided. You can use it for specific times or for entire days. Both “push back a meeting” and “push a meeting back” are OK.
This is the opposite of "push back." If the original time is too late, use this to suggest an earlier time.
You can also use these expressions to talk about work deadlines.
"Postpone" is a verb that means "to move to a later time." Things can be postponed because of someone's choice or because of situations that cannot be controlled.
Of course, you can also simply use “reschedule” if you need to make changes to your plans.
“Something’s come up”
This is a useful expression for saying that your schedule has changed unexpectedly, but without giving details. In this case, "come up" means "appear suddenly." It's often used when the original appointment time is coming soon.
Move things around
This is a common expression to use when responding to someone’s request to reschedule. It basically means to "reorganize an activity calendar." For example, if you change your morning meeting to a lunch meeting, you might then need to cancel or reschedule a plan you already had for the afternoon.
Other common expressions for scheduling and rescheduling
Similar to verbs like "make" and "do," "work" is useful in many different situations. For scheduling, if a date or time "works," it means it is convenient and a good time to meet.
When talking about schedules and meetings, the adjective "tight" means "very busy." Imagine a calendar that has activities planned almost all day, every day. Just like tight clothes, a tight schedule doesn't give you much room to move!
Fit (someone/something) in
Some meetings don't require rescheduling. If there is enough free time between other activities, you can simply add a new one and do them all. We use "fit" together with the person or activity that is being discussed.
A stronger version of this expression is "squeeze in," which suggests there is only a very small amount of free time available.
This expression comes from outdoor events that are canceled because of bad weather. People who bought tickets are given "rain checks" that allow them to come to another event in the future.
Asking someone for a rain check is not quite the same as rescheduling. Rescheduling means choosing a new time or date for an appointment that is more convenient. Rain checks, however, are for a time in the future that has not been decided yet.
If you are not sure when you will be available for another meeting, ask for a rain check. This expression is a little more casual than the others we've covered in this article, so it's better to use with friends in casual situations.
Next time you’re late…
Surprises and unexpected changes are a normal part of life, so don't feel bad when you need to reschedule your plans. Just be polite, apologize and suggest a new day or time that's better. Use these examples as a guide and choose the right one that is appropriate for your situation!