Jill, a co-worker and I were waiting in a conference room for someone to arrive. I can’t remember how late the person was but I remember the conversation that occurred. Jill highlighted how much she disliked when someone was late. I responded saying “That it doesn’t bother me”. Then she expressed the reason why…because essentially that person is saying their time is more important than your time.
Right there, I realized I never thought of what message it was sending to other people. I basically gave people the benefit of the doubt that something happened – hence not a big deal. So I started paying attention. I noticed that there were definitely repeat late offenders, often with little or no apology. I noticed how this influenced other people to not be on time (“we won’t start the meeting on time anyway” mindset). I noticed how upset people who were on time and waiting really were.
Jill was right, it is a big deal. It’s respecting other people’s time as much as you respect your own. As grateful as I am for this lesson, I also curse her at every doctor’s appt when I wait and wait and wait.
So I made a commitment to myself….be on time. This is not always easy or possible but here are things I do to try:
- Know your calendar. I prepare in the morning. What materials do I need – so I don’t have to go back to my desk first, etc. This includes addressing conflicting meetings and providing information as to which one you are not attending.
- Quick update text if necessary. Things happen – if your attendance is now changing, let someone know. The sooner, the better.
- Try ending meetings 5 minutes early. 25 min meetings, 55 min meetings…people need time to get to the next one
- Make big picture priority decisions. Sure, it would be great to just spend 10 more minutes to close out this topic but that 1-1 is important, don’t just quickly cancel.
- If you are late, genuinely apologize
- Yes, you will even see me jog to my next meeting (which can be impressive in heels)
What other ideas do you have to be on time?