Manners Matter 11

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Punctuality

By Ron Ross

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“We will wait a few minutes before we begin our meeting as some folks are still arriving.” I hate it when the guy in charge of the meeting says that. Rude late arrivers should not be awarded for being tardy while those on time get punished for their punctuality.

Most people make the effort to arrive early at a meeting so they can find their place and prepare their minds. Why should the “on timers” be forced to wait an extra one or seven or ten minutes for the lazy late comers to saunter in?

Punctual people are polite and late people are rude. You can never be wrong to show up on time for an appointment, whether it is for the dentist, a movie, or coffee at Starbucks. It shows you have proper respect for the people you meet with. To be late is to be discourteous and egotistical.

Consider the impact of tardiness –

Being tardy is a form of theft. The minutes you steal from the folks forced to wait – they will never get back. If their time was their money would you stick your hand in their wallet and take a few bucks? Probably not, but when you are late you steal their time.

Being tardy ruins the experience. When you are late for a special event you ruin the experience for you and the people who must wait.

Being tardy devalues other people. It is no fun to sit in a restaurant and wait for the other guests to arrive. It’s even worse to arrive at the airport, exit your plane, take the train to the terminal, get your luggage, and then stand around waiting for your ride to show up.

Being tardy can be dangerous. Who hasn’t driven too fast and taken other chances to get to their destination on time? Many years ago my wife, two small children and I were flying from Paris to Rome. We got a late start to the airport which caused us to dash through the confusing traffic of a strange city. Once at the airport we scampered down the concourse and moved quickly to our seats. Poor planning caused me to jeopardize the safety of my entire family and a number of Parisians.

Being tardy can hurt you professionally. I proved that once with a gentleman I had an appointment with in San Diego. I had driven there from Colorado but forgot to change the clock in my truck to Pacific Time. Depending on that clock caused me to be an hour late for the meeting. When I showed up I thought I was five minutes early rather than one hour late so I did not apologize. I later found out why we never did business together.

Being tardy can hurt you personally. Habitual tardiness complicates your life and confuses the people you live and work with. Tardiness has damaged many previously meaningful relationships. Being tardy is embarrassing to you and inconsiderate of everyone else. The French have a proverb that says, “People count the faults of those who keep them waiting.”

Shakespeare might have overstated it when he said, “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late,” but his point is well taken. Be on time because manners matter.

©2016 Ronald D. Ross

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