The problem with NEXT FRIDAY.

How many times has your meeting not taken place because ‘this’ Friday for one person meant ‘next’ Friday for another, and vice versa?

Business relies on clear communication

I had an important upcoming meeting with a potential client who had a big budget for long term, ongoing work. After an initial quote and a couple of conversations, on a beautiful Tuesday morning I received this email:

“Let’s meet next Friday? We would like to push this project forward and our team is excited to see what you can do for us.”

And that’s how the meeting was scheduled. I had more than a week to get ready with my presentation.

I bet you know what’s coming. Yes, just before the weekend I received a call from the company claiming that not showing up for the meeting is a bad beginning for such a promising relationship.

Next Friday 101

Let’s make this clear once and for all. THIS FRIDAY, often referred to as THIS COMING FRIDAY, is an indication of the closest Friday from the current day. So, if today is Monday the 1st, then THIS FRIDAY means Friday the 5th. To simplify the matter for your recipients, feel free to add the word COMING, as in THIS COMING FRIDAY.

However, if I tell you “Let’s meet NEXT FRIDAY”, I mean the following Friday, which would be Friday, the 12th. NEXT FRIDAY should be understood to mean the Friday after THIS Friday, and THIS FRIDAY is the Friday that is the one upcoming.

What if today is Friday?

Then, THIS FRIDAY is today. And THE NEXT FRIDAY is next week.

Visually you can imagine it this way:

Where is the confusion coming from?

Not to point fingers at anybody, but I know a few Canadian folks who are dying to persuade me that NEXT FRIDAY is the Friday that comes next. Makes sense, right?

NO, of course not! Don’t do it! This is America! ;)

Am I sure about this?

Yes, but not really. I am not even a native English speaker, so I went to my friend Michael (a great blogger and Elevator Pitch Coach) and asked him to confirm my theory. I sent him an email asking for a quick call Next Friday, and in fact, he showed up on the expected day and explained the concept to me the like I am five:

You are grammatically correct that this Friday would be the one coming up soonest (which is ‘this’ Friday) and ‘next’ Friday is the following Friday.
I prefer to include the date when using ‘this’ or ‘next’, just to be certain. Unfortunately, I did not follow my own advice when recently setting up a lunch appointment. I was scheduled to meet with someone on Friday (does ‘this’ and ‘next’ only happen on Fridays?), and on the day of the meeting (a Friday), the person had to cancel. He suggested we reschedule for “…next Wednesday or Friday.” I said we should meet ‘next’ Friday.
On Friday I arrived at the restaurant. Twenty minutes and a phone call later I discovered that my ‘next’ Friday and his ‘next’ Friday were two different Fridays. Moral of the story — always confirm the date because your ‘this’ may be their ‘next’.
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