The art of the "Tentative" response

Meetings.  The bane of nearly all productivity ...and yet when one pops up, there's just one question that I was asking myself "Am I free or not?".  Clearly someone thinks it's important enough for me, otherwise why would someone request my time?  I MUST BE IMPORTANT TOO AND I. SHALL ATTEND ... <accept>!  Besides, nothing is more important than taking 30 minutes or more to get absolutely nothing done and feel good about it, right?  Anyway.
 
This is a terrible way to determine if I should go attend or not.  For now, I'll ignore all the logical bits that help me decide if I really should or not.  Things like looking at the actual contents of the invite, the 5 paragraph "touch points", "be on the same page" or "things to go over" that let me know its going to be amazingly painful and focus on the meeting equivalent of picking the null response from a nullable boolean.  Not accept, not decline -- the proverbial "meh".  The tentative response.
 
And so I starting doing this ...and unlocked something magical. This button takes on a few forms... "maybe" in google's calendar, "tentative" in outlook and I'm sure there are others, but this middle button is rarely used for reasons I still do not understand.  I started looking at this wonderful button a bit differently, and I drew a picture.
 
Behold, my top tier drawing ability to illustrate this amazing thing!
 
 

 
The power behind this button, I'm convinced, is nothing short of legendary; A well kept secret that's been right in front of you the whole time.  When I started using that button -- nothing on this planet prepared me for the responses.  Nothing.  Either no response at all (good, I didn't want to go anyway) or a wave of frustration, confusion, sometimes even anger.  This certainly helped me understand if it was really necessary or not, but it also put the question back on the person requesting the meeting: "Are all of these people necessary?" "Do I really need all this input?" Overwhelmingly the answer is no.
 
I challenge you to try it.  See what happens just once... maybe twice.  Wield it carefully and enjoy a slightly more productive day.
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