What Does it Say About You When You’re Always Late?

Mad HatterIt’s unfortunate that the first headlines about the then new Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, were about his chronic lateness and not about his plan for The City.

Hizzoner has been timed from 15 minutes to 90 minutes late to news conferences, community events and even his appearance before the state council. His routine lateness has not charmed him to the media, who are generally stuck in a small room at City Corridor sitting tight for him to show up for press conferences.

You’re Not That Important

How about you? Is it true that you are somebody who is routinely late? Be honest with yourself. Do you always present an excuse – you were stranded in rush hour gridlock, or the alarm clock didn’t go off, or you got a last-minute phone call? Your reputation will suffer if you’re always late.

Maybe the Mayor or your CEO can be late once in a while, however who of us is critical to such an extent that we can generally keep individuals waiting? Continually being late sends the message that you don’t think any other person’s time is as significant as yours.

Psychologists say that delay is a passive-aggressive act that reflects an underlying hostility. It’s another way of exerting control and flagging that you’re more important than the people who you keep waiting.

Being on time is professional. Being late isn’t, particularly when the meeting is being held for your benefit.

Losing a Potential Client

We recently arranged a breakfast for somebody to acquaint him with a possible client. There were several of us attending and we all arrived on time. Backwards ClockFifteen minutes passed by and I got a text that said “I’m walking in the door now.” Did we need to know that? Or he have an obligation to contact me as soon as he knew he was going to be late? Needless to say, the latecomer didn’t get the business.

This was really the second time he sent me a text to cover his tardiness when he was “walking in the door.”  I was not impressed with his unprofessional behavior or his chronic lateness and stopped doing business with him.

Always plan for the unforeseen. Check the weather report the night before and if rain or snow is forecast allow extra travel time. Call an Uber or car service if you’re afraid you won’t find a taxi but remember they are likely to keep you waiting as well..

A friend related a story about a job seeker who was referred to her for a networking meeting. As she has a very busy job, she arranged to meet with this stranger at 8:30 a.m. in her office. At 8:40 a.m. he called her to say that he was in the lobby of her building and would be there as soon as he finished up a couple of phone calls. What arrogance!

How do You Handle a Latecomer?

The job seeker was told that the arranged meeting was planned to end at 9:00 a.m., regardless of when he showed up. If you’re late, you can’t expect to have all the time you planned for. People will resent you for your habitual lateness. It will reflect on your professionalism and even interfere with doing your job.

If you’re delivering a presentation, don’t start over so the latecomer can catch up. If he asks a question about material already covered, say something like, “You would have heard about that if you had arrived on time. I’ll fill you in on the lunch break if I have time.”

Don’t punish the people who are on time by waiting to start a presentation until the latecomers arrive. Stick to the planned agenda.

Wasting people’s time is wasting money. A bank CEO we know won’t tolerate lateness at his meetings. His rationale is that if 20 people are waiting for someone who is five minutes late, that is 100 minutes of lost productivity. Time is money. Use yours wisely and be sure to show respect for others by being on time.


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