Don't be late

Don't be late

Better late than never But never late is better They tell me time is money So let's spend it together β€”Drake

I lose my marbles when people are late.

Some of this is definitely my problem. On the Big Five Personality Traits, I'm higher on the orderliness component of conscientiousness. Throw in the fact I'm high in neuroticism (i.e. nervousness), let's just say I like to know when things are going to happen in my day. (Jordan Peterson explains OCD/perfectionism here (I know they are different) and it's the very same principles; conscientiousness feeds neuroticism which feeds more conscientiousness ad infinitum).

And, people have different personality traits, which I cannot control and must accept and deal with. Shout out to the Dichotomy of Control and Radical Acceptance. And, usually, the late people are not coming from a place of malicious intentions to try to spite me by being late (Hanlon's Razor). πŸ™‚

With that being said, I still don't like people being late for a variety of reasons which I will outline below. πŸ™‚

First off, time is the most precious resource I know of (if you know something else that is, plz let me know). From a first principles perspective, it is the base. Without time, you don't have time to spend with loved ones, make more money, etc.

Further, time gets more precious as you get older. Since the supply (supply part of supply and demand) side of time is becoming scarcer and scarcer with every moment, the value of time increases as you get older.

Finally, I can't stand it when people are late BUT they were the one who asked you to speak. As in, you took time out of your day to speak with someone and yet they are late. It just blows my mind that people actually do this. This is why, as an outbound salesperson, I strive to always be early for meetings as I’m the one asking for the meeting with the customer.

I think a good framework to keep in mind is the assertive, aggressive, and passive behavioura styles.

Passive assumes that my need < your need. Aggressive assumes that my need > your need. In the middle, you have Assertive, which as you might guess, is my need = your need.

I put a bit of a spin on this framework when thinking about being late. When someone is late, what their actions essentially convey to me is that THEIR TIME is more important than MY TIME. As in, they don't consider my time as valuable as theirs. A better way for a mutually respectful relationship to take place is probably Assertive: the value of my time = the value of your time.


Some tips for dealing with someone who is late:

  1. Remember, they are probably not coming from a place of bad intentions. Default to good intentions. Mistakes happen, people aren't perfect. They might not be on time every time.
  2. Agree on group norms (SOP). Is it alright to be late? If so, by how much until the meeting is cancelled?
  3. Along the lines of group norms, if you or the other person is going to be late, it takes 15 seconds to text or email them. Just let them know! I'm sure they'd really appreciate it.
  4. Also along the lines of group norms, be explicit. Put things on the calendar.
  5. It's best to do the chatting in person (vs. email or text). Email and text have a natural negativity bias so people see emails more negatively than they actually are. Face to face is much better because you can read the non-verbal communication.


Giving feedback to someone who is late:

  • Focus on THE BEHAVIOUR and not the person themselves. Don't make it about them β€” i.e. something that is wrong with their being that they can't change.
  • A decent framework is:
    • Situation β€” what was the situation
    • Behaviour β€” what was the behaviour (lateness)
    • Impact β€” what was the impact it had on you?
  • Another decent framework is:
    • When __________ happens
    • I feel __________ (emotion) because __________
    • This impacts me because __________
  • Since putting up more boundaries in my life, I've found that some times people can get defensive when you put the boundaries in place at first. Which sucks. You'll probably have to be a broken record β€” i.e. repeat to them how their behaviour impacts you. You might have to sound like a broken record many times through. If this doesn't work, let their actions self-select for you. (they might not like that they can't "take advantage" of you anymore)
  • Actions speak louder than words. Someone can tell you they love you and then do some terrible behaviours. Explain to the late person using the framework(s) above and look at if their behaviour changes.

What to do if you're usually late:

  1. Conduct a pre-mortem. What might case me to be late that I can address in advance so that I'm not late?
  2. If you are going to be late, let the other person know. I'm sure they will really appreciate it. And it demonstrates that you value their time.

Written: October 12, 2020


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