Do you always find yourself rushing to your next meeting only to get there ten minutes late? Are you always the last one to arrive to a dinner party with friends? If so, you may have a chronic tardiness problem. Not only will this problem put you in a perpetual state of chaos and haste, but you may convey a message to friends and coworkers that you do not value their time. If this description sounds accurate, take note as we begin to explore being tardy…a sign of disrespect!
Everyone has someone in their life that can never be on time no matter how much extra notice or how many extra reminders are given. People usually recognize this habit early in a relationship and will come to expect the constant late arrival, maybe even telling the tardy friend that a party starts ½ hour before it really does, or telling the person to meet them for coffee 15 minutes before they intend to arrive themselves. Anyone who does this to compensate for another person’s lack of impetus for on-time arrival should be considered a very understanding friend. Many others grow annoyed with the constant waiting and excuses for being late and will become resentful at the late arriver for wasting their own time because – you know what? They have things to get done too! Most often the latter takes place.
Please Be On Time – Don’t Make Me Wait
When you make a commitment to another human to show up for work at 9 AM or meet at the local coffeehouse at 10:15, you are telling them – yes…I’ll be present to meet and spend time with you. With your job, you are establishing yourself as available for work, production, listening, and critical thinking. With a friend, you are allowing shared time for talking and listening, perhaps even problem sharing. When you are late to arrive, you cut into that promised time because something else has captured your body and mind. This something else could be anything. It could be laundry, sleep, doing your hair, playing a video game, checking your email – anything. This “something else” keeps you from holding your commitment to another person, and it is keeping you from them because you choose to let it. Yes, you alone allow that other ‘thing’ to control you and that is what prevents you from keeping an appointment.
As your friend arrives to the coffeehouse at 10:15, they do so because they said they would, in other terms, they honor their word. They would only agree to meet you in the first place if they valued your time together enough to make an extra trip, using their own free time to drive to meet you. As this person sits and waits for you, the time that you might have spent together slips away, and they are left to think of all the other things that could have gotten accomplished in the time it took for you to arrive. They could have done laundry, or checked email, or played video games, but they did not – because they chose to meet with you instead. Time with you is more important to them than those other tasks. But, what does their time mean to you?
By showing up late, whether 15 minutes or an hour, you are (purposefully or not) saying through your actions that your friend’s, coworker’s, or teacher’s time is not valuable to you. You are also breaking a verbal commitment to them which breaks any trust that they might have in you. In a world where there are fewer hours in a day than it takes to get everything accomplished, you are making someone waste their precious time on you by choosing something over them; this is the ultimate sign of disrespect. Not only are you disrespecting that other person, but you become a liar when you continually set up engagements only to break them. How can you hold onto friends or impress a boss when you cannot establish trust and respect?
The only way to mend the effects of constant tardiness is to fix the problem at its root. Today, many adults and children are so overscheduled for sports and classes and work that one misstep or delay can wreak havoc on a timely arrival to any of those activities. Slow down your life; relish breaks and down time and allow your children to rest. For others that are not overscheduled but still seem to be constantly late, get a planner. Write down appointments or meetings and allow ample time to get yourself wherever you need to go. If needed, set your alarm ½ an hour ahead to ensure enough time to get ready for work. If you know that you are going to be late to a meeting or function, call ahead and reschedule. It is time to realize that your actions are hurting others and hurting your own character as well.
Being tardy is a sign of disrespect. It tells others that you do not value their time, and that other things are more important to you than them. You can stop being tardy today by making a conscious decision to stay on schedule. You know how long it takes you to get to work – so leave with enough time! If you need to buy a watch or write reminders to yourself, do it. Your friends, coworkers, family members, and many others will be grateful.