I consider serial lateness a character flaw which I take into account when working out who to promote, who to hire, and who to count amongst my real friends.
This post may offend some readers. But only because it’s going to cut close to the bone for many. And I don’t care if I sound old-fashioned, because actually it’s nothing to do with ‘fashion’ or ‘generation’. It’s got everything to do with basic good manners and respect for other people.
So here it goes… How did it get to be “OK” for people to be late for everything? Because as far as I am concerned, it’s not OK.
In recent years it seems that a meeting set to start at 9 am, for some people means in the general vicinity of any time which starts with the numeral ‘9’. Like 9.30 for example. People drift in at 9.10 or 9.20, or even later. And they smile warmly at the waiting group, as they unwrap their bacon sandwich, apparently totally unconcerned that others have been there since five to nine, prepared and ready to start. 10 people kept waiting in a meeting for 20 minutes, while some selfish human who idles their way via the coffee shop, is actually 20 minutes times 10, which is 200 minutes wasted – while you keep us waiting because you did not catch the earlier bus.
That is over 3 hours wasted. By you! How much has that cost the business? Shall I send you an invoice? And an arrangement to meet someone for a business meeting at a coffee shop at 3 pm, more often than not means at 3.10 you get a text saying ‘I am five minutes away’ which inevitably means 10 minutes, and so you wait for 15 or 20 minutes, kicking your heels in frustration.
And often these ‘latecomers’ are people who have requested the meeting in the first place, are asking for your help, or are selling something. Fat chance, brother! And it’s not only business. Why do people, invited for a dinner party at 7.30, think its cool to arrive at 8.30? It’s rude. It’s inconsiderate.
I had a dinner meeting last week, I arrived at 5 minutes to eight for an eight o’clock booking. At 8.20, I was into my second glass of Whisky and at half-past I got a text saying ‘on the way’. We finally were all seated at 8.45. There were not even attempted excuses from the others, better yet two people decided not to even show up. Meanwhile I had put a huge dent in the bottle of whisky, and was ready to go home. And it is not that we lead ‘busy lives’. That’s a given, we all do, and it’s a cop-out to use that as an excuse. It’s simply that some people no longer even pretend that they think your time is as important as theirs.
And technology makes it worse. It seems texting or emailing that you are late somehow means you are no longer late.Rubbish.You are rude. And inconsiderate. And I act on it, too. If you are five minutes late I will leave and if you are late to a group meeting you will not be allowed to join. People get very offended when I do this as if I am the one who caused the drama.
But hold on, I am busy too! I would not keep you waiting 45 minutes if I asked to meet with you. Me? Am I everlate? Sure, sometimes. That’s inevitable even with the best intentions. But I never plan to be late. I never ‘let time slide’ because my stuff is more important than yours.
I am not talking about the odd occasion of lateness. I am talking about people who are routinely late. In fact, never on time. You know who I am talking about! And certainly I consider serial lateness a character flaw which I take into account when working out who to promote, who to hire and who to rely on. It’s that important.