Question: When is it okay to be late?
Are you thinking, “What about fashionably late?”
Maybe you can answer this next one. What is fashionable about wasting someone else’s time? If you’ve made a commitment – to a friend, to a date, to a potential employer – and you’re late, what are you saying about their time in comparison to yours?
In the professional world (e.g. meeting a colleague, an interviewer, a partner, etc), one should always be five to ten minutes early. Depending on how far you’re travelling, sometimes this can mean leaving much earlier than necessary and maybe having some time to kill. Aren’t you lucky that books have been around for centuries? Or in the case of those who need “more” stimulation, there’s the smart phone to thank you for your short attention span and Angry Birds to kill time.
When you’re going to a friend’s house socially, arrive on time or up to ten minutes late. Arriving early, in this case, can throw off the host who has last minute tasks to complete. Arriving too late, however, means your arrival could interrupt anything from a great story to the sit-down dinner.
These days, human interaction often consists of a brief, somewhat insincere, “How are you?” and “Nice to meet you,” – gone are the days of describing self and family lineage upon first meeting. So people gather information in other ways, usually upon first impression. Being late signals disorganization, lack of good grace and sometimes selfishness.
If you’re constantly running behind, don’t be surprised if people start giving you “fake” times to meet them and have them show up late to you. A fifteen-minute grace period may be served by a gracious host, but otherwise the world must keep spinning.
Remember RESPECT, and be on time.