I know them. You know them too: People who are always late. It seems like no matter what the situation or event, they just can't seem to be on time. Some use a litany of excuses to justify their chronic tardiness, but the worse offenders are not only comfortable with being consistently late, but expect you to be accepting of their impunctuality as well.
Not only is their behavior selfish, it's also disrespectful.
People who are always late rob us of the most precious and valuable commodity that we own: our time. The time you spend waiting for someone to arrive is time that can be better spent doing a myriad of things; productive things in fact. When you are sitting idle it's because your time is being viewed as less valuable than the time of the person you are waiting for. After all, you are going to be honored with their company, so waiting is a small price (and inconvenience) to pay for such an enormous pleasure, right?
The truth of the matter is, no one - no matter how punctual - is always punctual. This is due to circumstances that can not be controlled such as a massive car pile-up on the freeway, being held hostage during a bank robbery, being stuck on an electric light rail vehicle while commuting during a power outage. Tardiness does happen rarely, not occasionally, to the most punctual of people.
When punctual people are tardy, they have reasons for why they are late; not excuses for why they are never on time. There's a difference. The person who is always late can realistically attribute their irritating impunctuality to one of several causes:
1.) Arriving anywhere on time requires preparation (the process of actually leaving point A), departure (from point A), and travel time, (from point A to point B). It's all geared toward a timely arrival at point B.
The vast majority of people who suffer from chronic tardiness arrive at their destinations late because they fail to properly plan (which also means taking driving /commuting conditions under consideration when estimating travel time), which delays their time of departure; thus making them late.
Not being properly prepared, or experiencing a disruption in the preparation process, results in tardiness as well. Though planning is the solution for many, it gets up-ended when people lack organizational skills.
Just the process of getting ready-to-go requires organization. (People with small children should take heed.) It should be done the night before. Selecting wardrobe and items needed for the following day puts you closer to departure when you wake-up. Failure to do so prolongs the preparation process, and can delay your departure. The end result? You are late - despite driving excessively fast in an attempt to make up for time lost during travel time.
2.) Then there's tardy offender number two. The worst kind. They just don't give a damn about being on time. Many (narcissistic) people like how it feels to have others anxiously awaiting their arrival. It makes them feel special, and in fact, empowered. Some even believe (though most won't admit) that the party (or whatever it is) doesn't start until they arrive.
When others are waiting on them it feeds their ego (or arrogance). This is why many celebrities like to arrive "fashionably late." It's proof positive (for them) that they operate under different guidelines and are not held to the same social standards; therefore, they don't have to extend the same social courtesy.
Ironically, the worst offenders (even celebrities) can, and frequently do, show up to certain appointments on time such as court hearings or airplane flights when required. This suggests that punctuality and priority go hand-in-hand.
Curing the impunctuality of the worst offender is obviously a more daunting task. The thing to remember about people who are always late is that they are well aware of their problem; and their problem is not for you to solve.
What do you do when you find yourself in the undesirable position of repeatedly waiting for someone? Leave. That's right. Set a grace period of say 7-15 minutes, and go back home, to work, or wherever you need to go.
Once you've made it clear that you value your own time - and will not have it wasted - you can restore the balance of respect in your relationship with your impunctual friend, and hopefully, send a clear and loud signal to them that always being late is not cool, and it's not acceptable.
Gian Fiero is a speaker and author who lectures throughout the country.