Why It’s Important To Never Be Late

Business Lateness
When people are late it’s one of my biggest pet peeves.

I think I get it from my grandfather.

He’s going to be 86 this year and he’s still 10 minutes early for everything. At least 10 minutes early.

I remember my family always kind of joking about it. Not in a mean way or anything like that, but more in a way that they respected his ability to always be on time.

I don’t know if I’ve made a conscious effort to follow his lead in life on promptness, but I do try to be early for everything. I don’t like being late. It bothers me if I’m ever running late for something. It does happen sometimes, but I really try to be early and on time for events in life.

Lateness: A Big Pet Peeve

I wanted to see if I was in the minority on feeling this way, but when someone is late it really bothers me. It’s probably one of my biggest pet peeves.

I don’t think I’m alone. After looking around on a few business forums, reddit and in a couple other places it seems that this pet peeve is common. There is definitely a feeling that comes over you when you’re early or on time and someone else is late.

That feeling is that the other person must feel that their time is more important than yours.

The more it’s happened to me the more I’ve felt that way. And after feeling that way when it happens it’s made me feel worse about the times I’ve been the one that has been late.

In seems to happen in the business world often. Maybe not often, but more often than it should.

Meetings, phone calls and anything where at least two people are supposed to be somewhere at the same time. If you’re late you’re not only making the other person feel like your time is more important than theirs, but you’re also taking time away from focusing on the work that needs to get done.

Why Are People Late?

It turns out that there have been studies about the topic of lateness. I wouldn’t think that people would be late on purpose and it turns out that it might be the case. Some people just have a different way that time works in their world.

Here is a collection of studies on lateness.

The first one goes into a little detail on how Type B personalities often feel time passing at a slower pace than Type A individuals. If you feel that you might be late on a recurring basis for that reason the one thing that seems to work is mental practice where you visualize doing a task. It seems this helps you see the real time the task will take and it could be as simple as driving from one point to another for a meeting or taking a short break before getting on an conference call.

Another reason for lateness is multitasking. We often praise those with the ability to multitask, but it comes with side effects including lateness (as well as other issues including health-related issues). Multitasking takes away a person’s ability to be aware of what they’re doing and this leads to a lost sense of time. The practice here would be to focus on one thing at a time. It takes practice, but you should find that you do better work on what you’re doing while also improving the awareness of the world around you including timeliness.

Reacting To Those That Are Late

I’ve probably had some bad reactions when people are late. Nothing too crazy, but when someone has been late to a call I’ve simply put my phone away and focused on the next task. I don’t like the interruption of the phone so scheduling calls is important. I set aside a task completely to prepare for the call and if the call doesn’t start on time I get irritated. At a certain point, maybe five minutes, I’ll put the phone away and move on. The downside there is that the call usually still needs to occur.

I read a good one about business meetings in an office where people are chronically late. If the meeting is at 10:00 AM, for example, close the door to the room right at 10:00 AM and start the meeting with whomever is ready to go. Those that are late can still walk in, but they’ll need to open the door and sit down all while interrupting the meeting.

I’m not always the best at it, but I try not to wish that others would behave differently. We all live our own lives in this world and we can’t control what others do. We can only control our reactions and what we do. So if someone is late it doesn’t help to wish they would be on time (I’ve been guilty of that feeling). It’s best to simply look for solutions that you control.

Maybe working with others on projects. Maybe adjusting expectations on when meetings will start. Maybe other options are available as well.


I’ll end here with the note that if you’re chronically late to things, whatever they are, you’re telling the other person or persons that your time is more important than theirs. It’s really that simple.

Now, I know that I probably have things that I do that peeve others. In the end we really can’t control and wish that others would stop doing things that irritate us.

So if you’re like me and lateness is a big pet peeve then the best course is to look for ways to avoid those situations. Maybe open up to working with email more instead of setting up scheduled calls. Maybe having others handle scheduled calls and meetings. Maybe some of the things discussed in the last section.

It’s an issue in the business world. If you’re late you can do others a solid by working on it. And if you’re peeved on it then you can only control what you can control to avoid those situations.

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