No Show! Really? Damage Control! Part 3

iStock_no show (800x585)In the previous two installments of “No Show,” we talked about resisting the temptation to throw up your hands and declare a client “hopeless” when they suddenly take a U-Turn in the face of opportunity and miss a critical job interview or appointment.   However, the fact that “no shows” happen all the time is generally the reason we often don’t even stop to ask – we just shake our heads and move on to the next client.  Remember – people do things for what they deeply believe are good reasons to them – not good reasons to us.  The key to helping foster ground breaking change in our most difficult clients is in understanding the thoughts and beliefs that drive what we see as irrational behavior.

If you were able to reach your client talk with them about how things went down, you are ahead of the game.  Let’s take a leap of faith and assume that you had that heart-to-heart talk and in response to your good coaching, they really want to give this another chance.  What can you do?

Here are some critical steps:

Problem Solving: This is where you get to go “tactical” but don’t get bogged down here!  Make sure that your client remains accountable for problem solving the logistical issues that contributed to the missed interview.  Resist the temptation to rush in, think all of this through and fix it for them.  This is a crippling pattern that could reinforce your client’s perception of being helpless.  Try to walk that fine line between supporting and enabling.  Also, don’t let your client get so pulled back into the comfort of your support that they lose sight of any insights they may have had as to the deeper reasons that they failed to show up in the first place. If you focus only on logistics and removing external barriers, it will be easy for both of you to lose sight of the internal changes that must take place in order for your client to succeed long term.

Do Over:  Sometimes it is actually possible to salvage a missed opportunity. Depending on the nature of the appointment, the audience and any policy considerations, there may be a chance to try again.  After all, it doesn’t hurt to ask.  If a “do over” is going to be attempted there are three critical things that you must do:

  1. Make THEM do it! This will of course depend on the type of missed appointment.  If this is a job interview or an interview to get into a training or educational program, then again – resist the temptation to rush in and smooth everything over.  A breach of trust has occurred between your client and the interviewer and your client needs to summon the courage to face this and advocate for a second chance. Not you. In fact, you calling to plead on their behalf removes a critical opportunity for them to begin to move into accountability. So no – you are not going to “get them another interview”  – what you can do however is coach them on how to approach this type of situation and hopefully get that second chance.
  1. Don’t lie and don’t condone their lying to cover up the mess. There is a big difference between spilling your guts and having an adult conversation about a missed opportunity. There is a very good chance that your client has no idea how to message this situation appropriately so work with them on what to say.  If they are willing to give this another shot, then it is totally worth the effort to make a credible showing.
  1. Be positive AND realistic. The most important thing is not whether or not a second chance is granted because it may not be. The most important thing is your client’s willingness to attempt new behavior and reach out.  Be supportive, but also help them understand that even if this doesn’t work, it was totally worth the effort because of what it says about their personal growth. Just making this attempt could positively change their perceptions of themselves and their life trajectory.

Action Steps for Damage Control:

  1. Call Immediately. If you know that your client is going to “no show” and you cannot get them to engage, then call the interviewer, apologize and cancel the interview with as much grace and as few details as you can manage.  It’s best to say that you are not sure what the issue is but that your client will contact them as soon as possible.  It is always better for the client to call but you may not have that option. The most important thing is that the other party isn’t left in the dark waiting for them to show up.
  1. Have Client call. The most important thing that needs to happen as quickly as possible is a call from the client to the interviewer with a sincere apology for both missing the interview and for any inconvenience this may have caused. In coaching your client for this call, let them know that the worst thing that they can do is either lie or make excuses. Coach them on how to give a brief, accountable and professional response. The interviewer will respect their courage and their sense of responsibility – even if they don’t give them another chance.
  1. Ask to reschedule. Have the client ask if they can reschedule the interview.  Some interviewers will flat out say no – but some will say yes, so it never hurts to try.  If the interviewer agrees, then make sure the client understands not just how fortunate they are that they got a second chance, but what a tremendous thing they have done in facing this challenge.  The second point is actually more important.
  1. Have Client send a Thank You note. If there is time between the call and the rescheduled interview, help the client draft a short thank you note immediately. Have them apologize again and thank the interviewer for the opportunity.  If there is not enough time, help them draft an email to send.

Again, the key to getting different results with clients on different roads to re-entry really lies in developing the coaching skills to change the conversation from what went wrong “outside” to what went wrong “inside.”  For more information on training to build coaching skills on your team visit our website at and contact us for onsite training!



  1. Excellent series! I’d love more info on addressing the real issue with the client – – to help them see it wasn’t the bus they missed or the lack of child care, but something deeper.


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