You have a regular meeting in your calendar. It’s with just one other person. Sometimes you have things to talk to them about and sometimes you don’t. But as long as your calendar says you both have to go, you will both go.
The day of the meeting comes round. There are lots of things that need to be done that day. You look at that meeting sitting obstinately in your calendar and think how useful it would be to get that time back.
Inspiration strikes: why not cancel the meeting? A couple of mouse clicks, an automatic notification sent out, a joyously blank calendar. It seems so easy.
But you can’t bring yourself to do it, to cancel a meeting at such short notice. It would make you look disorganised, unprepared. And what about the other person? They might have lots of important things to discuss with you. Maybe they’re really looking forward to the meeting; maybe they’ve worn smart clothes they otherwise wouldn’t have worn, or have regretfully cancelled other interesting meetings in order to have this one with you. How would they feel, if that was indeed the case, about you sending a cancellation out of the blue like that?
So you get your head down and try to make the most of the productive time you have, although it’s hard to concentrate because you have one eye on the clock. The time is approaching when you’ll need to drop everything and go to this meeting. The meeting hasn’t even happened yet and it’s already wreaking havoc on your day.
It’s now only five minutes until you need to leave. And, suddenly, your computer makes a bleeping noise or a swooshing noise or whatever noise it makes when you receive a new email. You look up from your keyboard.
Congratulations: you have just won a game of Meeting Chicken.