Dealing With The Tardiness Of Others

Taking control of your own schedule is one thing, but what do you do when it's always the other party showing up late? Photo by Street Spirit.

WikiHow, purveyor of all manner of how-to guides, posts a guide to dealing with those plagued by perpetual lateness. Their guide deserves points for both usefulness and brutal honesty, opening with this first step:

Call it what it is - a respect issue. When it comes right down to it, that's what it's all about. Why is your time any less valuable than your friend's? Why should you put up with a lack of respect for your valuable time? The answer is, you should not. ... There are no excuses to justify this kind of behaviour, and you need to make your friend clear on that.

The principle defence against the tardiness of others is to establish clear boundaries. Perpetually late people have gotten by in life—albeit with a fair number of penalties along the way—because people tolerate the tardy behaviour. Establish boundaries with your friends and coworkers by specifying the window in which you will wait should they be tardy, but that you expect them to be on time. Equally important is to structure your plans so that the chronically late party is not absolutely critical to the outcome of the event. Don't leave the concert tickets in their hands or the presentation on their laptop. Invite another, more punctual friend along. Should it come time to rehash your plans without the oops-I-missed-the-bus-again friend, you're not left flying solo.

An occasional missed appointment is one thing and easily forgiven, but a pattern of lateness is a less than subtle gesture of disrespect for both the tardy party's time and that of the companion left waiting. For more tips and tricks on dealing with chronically late people, check out the full entry below. Have your own tactics for solving tardiness issues? Sound off in the comments below. Dealing with Someone Else's Latelyness [wikiHow]


    It's interesting that nobody (as far as I can see - I may have missed it) has fingered the key explanation for consistent lateness which is that people differ in personality, and therefore in their perception of time and in their sense of urgency about punctuality. In the Myers-Briggs scheme this would be known as "J type" vs "P type". In the 5-factor models (probably the best validated in psychology) there is a key variable christened "Conscientiousness" which regulates this. Suffice to say, people who place a high value on timeliness assume that this is a moral virtue (which it is not) and that people who are late are obviously disrespectful (because they themselves can only imagine being late as an act of deliberateness or wilful carelessness). In today's world and in western society, there is a great value placed on timeliness (because of its utility) which reinforces this view. People with low C scores tend to learn via various mechanisms to adapt themselves to this requirement (or else they don't!) usually with a lot of suffering along the way. But ultimately it's a trait which has survived natural selection so it clearly has utility in at least some circumstances!

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