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Reschedule an appointment - How to communicate professionally and respectfully

December 1, 2023

Scheduling is an important part of everyday professional and private life. The reliable handling of agreed appointments is essential for good time management and effective cooperation. Nevertheless, it happens again and again that appointments have to be postponed. While appointment cancellations are often unavoidable, postponements pose a greater challenge, as a new appointment must be found and coordinated. This makes it all the more important to handle appointment changes professionally and respectfully.

This article explains how to politely communicate and avoid rescheduled appointments whenever possible. It builds on our previous articles on appointment requests, confirmations and cancellations by addressing another aspect of appointment organization.

Reasons for and acceptance of postponements

Unexpected events as reason for rescheduling

Rescheduled appointments are often necessitated by unforeseen events. Typical reasons include your own illness, family or work emergencies, unexpected attendance at an important meeting, or the occurrence of urgent tasks that require a higher priority.

Even with careful planning, such surprises can never be completely avoided. It is important to inform participants in good time about the change of date and, ideally, to offer an alternative date as early as possible.

When are reschedules acceptable?

Not every reason justifies a postponement. For example, if the appointment was only forgotten or planned away, this is not an acceptable reason. In this case, it is important to admit the mistake and, if possible, keep the original appointment.

Postponements should be limited to unforeseeable events. Even if these seem compelling to the person involved, it is important to show understanding for the situation of the other participants. The more last-minute the change, the more valid the reason should be.

A rule of thumb is that postponements are acceptable if keeping the appointment would involve serious difficulty or imposition. All other cases require a close examination of the necessity.

Polite communication

Appropriate choice of language

When communicating a rescheduled appointment, a polite choice of language is crucial. Put yourself in the other person's shoes and phrase it with sensitivity. Use words such as "unfortunately", "to my regret" or "please excuse me" and express your surprise at the postponement.

Explain the reason as transparently and comprehensively as possible. Politely ask for understanding and be grateful if your counterpart accepts the change. By choosing your words respectfully, you show that you are aware of the inconvenience to others.

Professional wording of the message

Pay attention to a professional structure of the message. State the appointment at the beginning and explain in the next sentence that you unfortunately have to postpone it. In the following, explain the reasons briefly and concisely.

Next, formulate your proposal for an alternative date and ask whether this date is convenient for your counterpart. Finally, politely thank them for their understanding and for making the effort to reschedule.

By this clear structure, you show that the postponement is not due to sloppiness, but that you are trying to find a professional solution. This promotes acceptance by the recipient.

Professional approach

Steps for a structured scheduling shift

Take a systematic approach to rescheduling:

  1. First check whether the postponement is really unavoidable. Weigh the consequences carefully.
  2. Inform as early as possible about the change, ideally several days in advance.
  3. Explain the reason for the postponement concisely but transparently.
  4. If possible, offer one or more alternative dates directly. Use automated solutions such as Zeeg for this purpose.
  5. Agree on flexible appointment options that suit everyone.
  6. Thank everyone for their cooperation and willingness to reschedule.
  7. Confirm the new appointment clearly.

By taking these steps, you will ensure that the shift is handled professionally.

Generic Email/Message Template

Here is an example of a polite email or text message to reschedule an appointment:

Dear Ms/Mr [Name],

I regret to inform you that I have to postpone our appointment scheduled for [date] at [time]. To my regret, an urgent emergency has arisen [optional: further explanation], which prevents my participation at the originally scheduled time.
I would therefore like to ask for your understanding that I have to postpone our appointment. I am aware that this will cause you inconvenience. I can offer you the following alternative dates: [date and time 1] [date and time 2] [date and time 3].

You can book one of these dates directly through my Zeeg site: [zeeg.me/your-name]
I thank you in advance for your courtesy and effort in finding another date.

Yours sincerely [your name]

Doctor Appointment Reschedule Template

Another example of rescheduling an appointment from the perspective of a physician versus a patient.

Dear Ms/Mr [Name],

Unfortunately, I have to postpone your check-up appointment with me on my calendar for next Tuesday at 10 am. An urgent case has come up that requires me to participate in a conference call with a specialist. I realize that rescheduling appointments can be very upsetting for patients. I sincerely apologize for this.

Could we perhaps reschedule for Thursday at 3pm or Friday at 9am? Alternatively, you can book a time through my booking link: [zeeg.me/your-name].
I would be happy if one of these alternative dates would work for you. Please let me know as soon as possible when exactly it would suit you best so that I can confirm the new date.

Best regards and apologies again for the short notice! Dr. [name]

Job Interview Reschedule Template

An example of rescheduling a job interview from an interviewer's perspective.

Dear Ms. [name],

To my great regret, I have to postpone our interview scheduled for next Wednesday at 3pm. An important project with a tight deadline has been unexpectedly brought forward, so I need to invest more time to complete it on time. Filling the advertised position remains a high priority for me, but the project now requires my full attention.

Could we perhaps reschedule our interview? Please suggest an alternative that accommodates your schedule or book an appointment directly on my booking page: [zeeg.me/your-name]. Next week would also be a possibility.

I sincerely apologize for the rescheduled date and sincerely hope we can find a new prompt date to make up for the interview. Please let me know if you do.

Best regards, [name].

Consideration for other parties involved

Effects of shifts

Postponements often have far-reaching consequences for other participants. They can lead to conflicts with other appointments, additional organizational effort and long chain reactions of postponements. The impact is also felt personally if you have invested time to attend the original appointment.

Those who reschedule should be aware of these consequences and show compassion for those affected. Open communication and a solution orientation are important to minimize disruption.

Strategies for minimizing negative consequences

There are several ways to reduce the negative impact of rescheduling on other participants:

  • Provide information as early as possible to allow enough time for reorganization.
  • Offer several alternative dates to avoid overlapping.
  • Be as flexible as possible in finding dates.
  • Take an active role in helping to re-coordinate.
  • Apologize in person and show understanding of the other person's situation.
  • Offer compensation for the inconvenience, if possible and appropriate.
  • Express your sincere thanks for the courtesy.
  • For the future, try to increase the reliability of the appointment.

Shift avoidance

Better scheduling and prioritization

The best way to avoid rescheduled appointments is to plan prudently and early, with time buffers, and to set clear priorities when scheduling:

When planning your calendar, make sure you don't get too bogged down, but allow enough time buffers for the unexpected. Leave enough buffer time between appointments to accommodate any delays or missed appointments. You can also organize your appointments by importance and urgency so that you can identify those that should definitely not be postponed. Likewise, you can group the appointments in your calendar by topics or locations to make the best use of your time. Therefore, coordinate your appointments with everyone involved early on and confirm them in a binding manner. Last but not least, don't overload your schedule to avoid double bookings and scheduling conflicts.

This will give you the flexibility to react appropriately to surprises without having to postpone appointments.

Measures to reduce postponements

Fortunately, in addition to forward-looking scheduling, there are other ways to reduce the need to reschedule appointments. Structured occupational health management, for example, can help reduce employee absences due to illness. If everyone is mindful of their health and attends preventive checkups, the risk of having to cancel important appointments due to illness decreases. 

The use of digital tools for structured appointment organization and automatic appointment reminders also helps to ensure that agreed appointments are forgotten or scheduled less frequently. In turn, early and clear communication of priorities to colleagues and business partners ensures that they respect one's own scheduling and do not postpone important appointments if possible. 

Blocking particularly relevant appointments in the calendar in advance also gives them a protected status and makes overlaps less likely. If everyone in a team works on reliable scheduling and high adherence to deadlines, this also has a positive effect. Regular analysis of previous reasons for postponements also makes it possible to learn from them and avoid these causes of schedule changes in the future. Consistent avoidance of double bookings of one's own time budget and early coordination of deadlines with all parties involved also help to make postponements unnecessary. 

With the help of all these measures, numerous reasons for postponements can be eliminated and the binding nature of deadline commitments can be significantly increased. Professional deadline management tools such as Zeeg provide you with optimum support in implementing these measures.

Dealing with frequent postponements

Solution approaches for recurring problems

Sometimes, with certain people or with certain types of appointments, there are always short-term postponements. In such cases, you should seek discussion and look for long-term solutions to the problems:

  • Analyze when and why the shifts occur.
  • Discuss the situation and your perception transparently with the person.
  • Together, find approaches to avoid the frequent postponements.
  • Agree on measures to increase commitment.
  • Set consistent boundaries for repeated postponements.
  • Together, rethink the nature, duration, and rotation of specific appointments.
  • Find compromises that are acceptable to both parties.

In this way, even stubborn postponement patterns can be broken.

Improving the reliability of deadlines

In general, it is helpful to keep bringing up the subject of deadline reliability and to develop an awareness of it:

  • Emphasize how important reliable arrangements are for you.
  • Make it clear that postponements will cause you additional work.
  • Invite others to also make contributions for more commitment.
  • Praise and thank others when schedule reliability improves.
  • Set a good example yourself.
  • Remain friendly but firm in communicating this concern.

With these aspects, a culture of higher deadline commitment can be established.


Scheduling always involves a degree of unpredictability, and the need for schedule changes can never be completely ruled out. It is important to handle postponements professionally and respectfully, to communicate early, to be flexible in scheduling, and to minimize disruption to others involved.

At the same time, it pays to reduce the occasions for postponements from the outset through good organization, prioritization and responsible use of time as a resource. Good appointment coordination is a matter of mutual respect and a key to effective collaboration.

Frequently asked questions

What to write in case of postponement?

In the event of a postponement, you should politely and regretfully state that the agreed appointment unfortunately cannot take place. State the specific date and briefly explain the reason for the postponement. Then, if possible, directly offer one or more alternative dates and ask for feedback on which alternative dates would be suitable. Thank them for their understanding and flexibility in rescheduling.

Is it possible to postpone appointments?

In principle, it is possible to postpone agreed appointments. However, this should only be done in justified exceptional situations and communicated with sufficient advance notice. Ideally, an alternative date should be proposed immediately. It is also important to show understanding for the inconvenience to the counterpart and to thank him or her for rescheduling.

How do I write a cancellation of an appointment?

When cancelling an appointment, it is best to state in the subject line that you are cancelling the specific, agreed appointment. In the text, you should also state the date, time and type of appointment again and then explain the reason for the cancellation. Regret that the appointment cannot take place and apologize for the inconvenience. If possible, offer an alternative date.

How do you respond to a rescheduled appointment?

Respond to someone else's rescheduling of an appointment in an understanding and cooperative manner. Signal that you understand the reasons and suggest suitable alternative dates. In this way, you can find a solution together. Thank them for informing you about the postponement and agree to the new appointment in writing to provide clarity.

How to cancel an appointment at short notice?

Appointments should be cancelled as early as possible to give the other parties involved enough lead time to reorganize. For last-minute cancellations, state the valid reason and apologize profusely for the late information. Offer a prompt alternative date to express your appreciation. Be careful not to cancel appointments too often on short notice.

How can I reschedule an interview?

Let the company know in good time that the agreed date unfortunately does not suit you and that you have to postpone the interview. State the reason and offer 2-3 alternative dates. Say that you are looking forward to the interview and thank the company for being responsive to your request for an appointment. Try not to reschedule the interview on too short notice.