Should You Expect Others to Be on Time?

1088507436This is a reboot of an all-time Struming on a universal topic, and one that is important to me. The $64,000 question is whether you should expect people to be on time.

Yes, you should (but prepared to be disappointed) …and I want others should expect it of me as well.

I realize that in today’s world there are always extenuating circumstances. Clearly the overturned tractor trailer on the expressway, the closed highway, the delayed plane, etc. are all legit excuses. And if truly infrequent, these are not biggees and are hardly crimes against humanity.

But let’s be clear—an excuse and a result are not the same. When somebody makes a time commitment to be someplace, do something, etc. at a specific time, their credibility is at stake. And not delivering at the appointed time, particularly when they do so frequently, diminishes my respect for them. Why? Because they in essence they are saying, “My time is more valuable than yours, so if I am late, it doesn’t matter—you can wait”.

Who are you to waste my time, the Queen of Sheeba? You know the type—they blow in tardy to a meeting or event in a huff and then expect everyone to have sympathy for their plight. No sympathy from me when you do this all the time.

In business when I ran two different ad agencies years ago, I used to literally create fines for tardiness to meetings. We’d throw the fine money in a jar and donate it at some point to a worthy charity. The purpose was to highlight our collective responsibilities to each other. When a meeting with 8 people starts 10 minutes late—you’ve wasted 80 minutes not just 10. I am human—we all are. No one is 100% prompt and there were times when I paid the fine. I was embarrassed when this happened. Being on-time is about anticipating the unexpected and allowing extra time as a result. When you cut the time to the last second, and then blame it on others, it’s a joke.

I’ve been known to say when one needs to travel that you should “travel like mensch”. That means leave yourself some wiggle room for getting lost, extra traffic and get there early. That’s OK. Don’t cut it to the last second and be surprised when some “unexpected” occurrence makes you tardy. You should expect traffic on the George Washington Bridge or Schuylkill Expressway, and not be surprised by it.  And if because of truly extenuating circumstances you are going to be tardy, tell the other party in advance so they know it.

Expect People To Be On Time? Hell, yes.

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