One of the best quotes about respecting people’s time is this. “We respect other people’s time when we learn to value it as much as our own. Even better, we can get to a point where we won’t distinguish between our time and the time of others.” –Dr. Forni
Every single one of us knows the feeling. You have a 10am doctor’s appointment, take your lunch hour in order to make the appointment, arrive a few minutes early and then suddenly its 11am, and you have not seen the doctor yet. Or, you invite people over for dinner at a certain time and they show up 45 minutes late. Or, you use an extra hour to run some errands or grocery shop, only to find that the store does not have enough people to check out customers in a timely fashion, which makes you late. Truth is, that in today’s fast paced world – time is of the essence. And the number one complaint of adults these days is that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished. So when someone doesn’t respect the time that you do have – or the time that you have set aside in order to accomplish things – it is completely maddening.
Many businesses today run on a “please respect my time” basis – often charging missed appointment fees or canceling appointments altogether if people do not arrive on time. Doctors in fact are notorious for having steadfast cancellation policies (often with fees) yet seem filled with hypocrisy when it comes to respecting the time of their patients. In the business world, customer service revolves around time management and respecting the time limits of customers. So why is it that so many people in this world are chronically late, or chronically no-shows or seem to have no respect for the time of other people in their life that they care about?
Psychologists say that not respecting the time of others is a serious sign of manipulation used to control others. People who are chronically late, or who seem to have no respect for the time of other people are passively trying to control a situation with their tardiness. If they have to arrive somewhere at 10:30am and know it takes them 15 minutes to get there – then they are late or behind schedule if they are still at home at 10:15. Those that don’t respect the time of others however, don’t see it that way – and often have a narcissistic view that shouts, “My time is more valuable than yours!” Rude, to say the least.
And far too often in personal relationships – this lack of respect is difficult to deal with. Most people operate on the assumption that a friend or family member is going to forgive them automatically for being late, or for throwing a wrench in plans that have already been made if something ‘comes up.’ And yet, the fact that so many people are willing to do this to friends and family indicates a huge lack of respect for one another. The truth is that as adults, it is vastly important to think about how others feel as well – and not always operate under the preconceived notion that your life is busier, more important or more hectic than someone else’s.
My Time is Important to Me
If you have to deal with someone who seems to have no respect for your time and efforts – it is up to you to put a stop to it. Instead of operating under the notion of assuming that “they said 8pm, which means 9pm to them” point out the behavior and hold them accountable. It will only take one or two times of you canceling an engagement, or calling off plans when they call to say they are running behind before they get the hint that you don’t appreciate their behavior and lack of respect for your time. By either being proactive and letting them know that, “hey this is not OK with me,” they will change their behavior or the relationship will change. And while it may feel petty to say, “Well if you cannot be here at 2pm like we planned then we will have to do this another day,” the bottom line is it NEEDS to happen. Quite simply, you have things to do as well and it isn’t fair for you to always be put off, or be forced to rearrange plans because someone else is being rude and irresponsible with YOUR time.
On the flip side, it is important that you are mindful of other people’s time. This means coming to appointments on time, having your information together, and apologizing if you are late (and even asking if you can reschedule) and realizing that other people’s lives are busy as well. You may have 4 kids while your best friend only has 2 – but this does not mean that her life is easier or that her time is less valuable than yours is. If you care about people and respect them – you will do your best to honor their time commitments and yours. If something just cannot work out because of time, then don’t be afraid to say NO and mean it.
It really is NOT okay for people to be flippant with your time. We are often taught to ignore little things such as this, and to try and remain flexible at all times. But eventually, there comes a point when you have to stand up for yourself – and take measures to force others to be respectful of you. It doesn’t matter if it is a doctor, or a friend – your time is important as well. If saying, “Please respect my time,” doesn’t work with certain people and situations, then you might want to see this disrespect as a signal that it is indeed time to move on.