Fix Your Chronically Late Friends By Going Radio Silent

Fix Your Chronically Late Friends By Going Radio Silent

Sometimes people are late for various reasons, and that’s understandable. Some people are late all the time, and that’s just disrespectful. If you have a chronically late friend you’d like to fix, here’s a clever method to make them show up on time.

Nicolas Kysak, writing on his personal blog Man with Zen, details a smart plan for dealing with your chronically late friends that largely involves ignoring them. Here are the basics steps:

  1. Be on time and turn off your mobile phone (or put it in aeroplane mode) as soon as you arrive.
  2. Set a timer for 15 minutes and relax.
  3. If your friend doesn’t show up after 15 minutes, turn your phone back on and leave.

Eventually your friend is going to give you a call wondering where you are, as they’re late and you’re no longer there waiting for them. At this point you’re going to need to explain what you did and why you did it. From now on, if they want to spend time with you they need to make a concerted effort to be timely because you will not be answering their calls to hear their excuses. Yes, this is harsh but you’re enabling the behaviour when you allow it. You have to be willing to say no.

Of course, this is not something you want to do with everybody and not without sufficient forethought. Some people are situationally late, in that they’ll often be late after work and not otherwise. You can solve a problem like that much more easily by not making plans with them after work. Some people will be late for a brief period in their life because they’re stressed out due to a major change, whether it’s positive (e.g. having a kid) or negative (e.g. having a kid). This is the sort of thing you want to do when someone’s tardiness has been a problem for a long time and talking to them about it doesn’t help. It is a bit evil, and so it makes for a very good last resort.

How To Deal With People Who Are Notoriously Late [Man with Zen]


  • Or…. If you have chronically late friends or family members who are consistently 20-30 minutes late regardless of the engagement, tell them to get there 20-30 minutes earlier.

  • Blergh! What a contrived way of going about life. Why not just wait for a bit, call them and if they’re going to be a while tell them you can’t wait for whatever reason. If you have to play these kind of games with people that are supposed to be friends then you’ve surely got to question your approach to friendships before anything else.

      • Most people who are late seem to be late by an approximate amount of time. I just lie to the person about when it’ll start – say, at 4:30 instead of at 5. If they’re setting the time, I’ll add half an hour and assume that’s the time to arrive.

        about 90% of the time, it works out perfectly. The remaining 10% of the time, they arrive only 20 minutes late…and I simply explain what I was doing. It’s more productive than what’s posted here and makes you seem like less of a dickhead, but is just as likely to make them change their ways.

  • the people who will implement this will be the ones who do it all the time, with no regard for extenuating circumstances and will miss friends who are usually on time, but in this instance, are not.

  • Funnily enough this is how I did it in the old days (well BMP (before mobile phones)). You’d agree on a time and place to meet and if neither showed after 15 minutes you’d go on your way.

    BMP you never had the luxury of being lazy and ringing to say you were late and sometimes you would actually run to an appointment!

  • As someone who still sometimes struggles with being on time and used to be terribly late often, I think this is fair enough. It was only when close friends got shitty with me AND I realised that the bottom line was that I *didn’t care* about making people wait that I changed my behaviour. That lack of respect isn’t just preceived by the person waiting – it *is* a real lack of respect and perhaps also springs from the childish attitude that “I don’t care, I’ll do what I like.” In other words, grow up a bit and consider others. Everyone is late sometimes, but I think we all know people (or are a person) like this who turn up late, cheery (well they weren’t left waiting to order dinner, buy tickets, miss the start of the film, whatever) and falsely apologetic (they say “Sorry I’m late” but they don’t mean it). My friends used to give me a false arrival time, but since I didn’t know they did this (until years later), it never changed my behaviour or made me think about how my behaviour might be affecting others. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

    • I agree… I think it’s a good idea to be cruel to be kind. Especially people who are late for dinner, that *really* pisses me off and shows a complete lack of respect. I don’t understand how some people just do not get that this is rude.

      I have a friend who I regularly witness telling people she is ‘on the bus’, ‘in the car’ on her way, when she is actually just getting out of the shower. Really annoying.

  • Reading the rest of his site to be honest he comes off as real prick.

    Turning off your phone so you become more difficult to contact is just plain bad manners.

    As nick suggested, waiting the fifteen minutes and sending them a message explaining what you are doing is a far classier way of handling the problem.

  • “And if they continue being late, set them on fire. This will let them know they’ve offended you and that next time, if they’re on time, they won’t burn horribly.”


  • It’s one if those things I would love to do, but not sure I could go through with it. I have a lovely friend who really is chronically late, and it gets me annoyed every time! After the same apology every time, I feel like saying “have you thought about starting out earlier?” Kathleen, you have given me food for thought though, I think I do need to say something to her to help her and me!

  • So there are two thoughts here.
    1. If you stand up for yourself as not enjoying your time being wasted, then you are the prick
    2. If you don’t stand up for yourself then you enable someone else to be a prick.

    So the take away here is that the prick that is wasting your time is turning you into a prick too.

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