When it comes to meetings, appointments and events, are you always on time … or are you often late? Timing is an issue which many find annoying and it can divide friends and families.
I realise this is a touchy topic for some people, but it’s one I’m genuinely interested in exploring.
Those who are habitually early or on time can become annoyed at the lack of consideration shown by the chronically late. While those who are always late often seem flustered and defensive when challenged on the reason for their tardiness.
I’m not talking about the odd occasion when life or emergencies happen. Traffic delays, public transport issues or a blackout at home are sometimes inevitable. It would be fair to say that nearly all of us have been late on occasion for such genuine reasons.
What I’m talking about is habitual, chronic tardiness – the person who is NEVER on time. Being late is often described as disrespectful, disorganised, being “overly busy” and even as controlling.
“5 minutes early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable.” Brent Beshore
In business, being late is considered unprofessional and costly. Time is money, after all. Your punctuality, or lack of it, speaks volumes about your level of professionalism in most industries. If you are dealing with other cultures, some consider lateness a deal breaker.
On a personal level, we all have that one friend who is ALWAYS late – well, at least I know I do. We won’t name names here, but a few recent encounters got me thinking – why are some people always on time while others are always late?
Research sheds some light
Dr Diana DeLonzor, of San Francisco State University, has undertaken a study into the chronically late personality. She is the author of “Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged”… Don’t you LOVE that title!
“Repetitive lateness is more often related to personality characteristics such as anxiety or a penchant for thrill-seeking,” says Dr DeLonzor. “Some people are drawn to the adrenaline rush of that last-minute sprint to the finish line, while others receive an ego boost from over-scheduling and filling each moment with activity.”
She says being late is often an ingrained habit, which starts in childhood, and that habit can be very difficult to overcome.
“Telling a late person to be on time is a little like telling a dieter to simply stop eating so much,” says Dr DeLonzor. “Most chronically late people truly dislike being late, but it’s a surprisingly difficult habit to overcome.
She says people who are always punctual are realistic thinkers. They plan out how long it will take to prepare and travel to a meeting or event. Whereas “laties” simply don’t allow enough time to get organised.
What’s the difference?
Those who are on time are more organised, structured and follow routines to get things done faster. They often prepare the previous evening, so they are ready to go on time the next day.
Punctual people also often allow a time buffer. This sometimes means they arrive early, but they would prefer to be there early than be one minute late.
OK, I have to admit, I’m an on-time person. It’s a habit which was definitely cultivated by my parents and one which I’m pleased I possess. I don’t think it makes me, or other on-time people, superior. Rather, it portrays us as considerate, organised and professional.
Now it’s your turn to fess up. Are you usually early, on time, or always late?
If you’re an on time person, why do you think others are habitually late?
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