Timing is Everything, Especially with Respect

by Emily Jasper on October 5, 2010

Timeliness is a huge issue with me. I have a hurry-up-and-wait philosophy because I feel like if I’m going to do something, I should be there in time to do it. We also know that being on time is a sign of respect to your host or with whomever you’re meeting.

But what about the people around you? Does your timeliness portray respect to them as well?

I would say so. People notice if you’re perpetually late. Sure, it might be acceptable if there’s an emergency, but you shouldn’t exactly brag about your tardiness routine.

Respect is an interesting thing, especially because it has this funny little habit of rubbing off on those around you. It’s something that you use to earn a reputation. When you show respect for someone, a happy side effect is that others respect you as well. So, naturally, timing and respect can mean a lot more than just being punctual.

We see this in the workplace frequently. If you show up on time regularly to meet with Tim, the people in the cubes and offices surrounding Tim’s office will probably know you’re always on time. Word gets around, and people are more willing to give you some of their time if they can count on you to be prompt.

So what’s the deal with lateness affecting others?

First, we notice that you clearly don’t have respect for whomever you’re meeting with. Second, you are a distraction to others around, and you can show lack of respect to them. A classroom is a great example: we can always count on people being late to class, the whole class turning to see who came in, and the teacher possibly losing his train of thought. Sure, there may be extreme examples of having to hike it across campus in less than 15 minutes, but if that’s not an excuse, what is? You couldn’t be bothered to wear a watch?

What’s next when others know they can’t count on you to be on time? In high school, maybe we let it slide. Even now we may give wiggle room to our friends. But we probably get a little peeved when a tardy friend means you have to rush or miss something. What if you’re in a new group of people? They’ll associate your friend’s tardiness with you. What about professionally? Do you really want to meet with people who could throw off your schedule? Does lateness translate to missing deadlines? Are you in the company of a perpetual procrastinator?

If you can help it, I encourage you to consider the start time of something to be the actual start time. If you have to be at work at 8am, be ready to work at 8am (which means you probably should have dropped your things off and grabbed your legal pad at 7:55). You should understand that if you are constantly late, it isn’t just a reflection upon you. It can be a reflection on your team, classmates, coworkers, or friends. If you don’t have enough respect for yourself to change your ways, let alone respecting others, then don’t be surprised if they lose all respect for you.

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