My guess is that you and I feel the same about being on time.

The idea of being late causes us stress. The act of being late makes us sick. Waiting on someone irritates us.


I’m using a lot of “they” and “them” in this article because it’s not about you and me.

You and I engage with someone who treats punctuality as an option, not a necessity. That’s true, isn’t it?

And we just don’t get it, do we? We want to say “you’re late,” but we don’t. Maybe we can find a way to forward this to them, anonymously.

Mentioning strategies to be punctual to them is a waste of effort. Their attitude has to change first.

They must have a WHY before the HOW matters. Otherwise, their behavior won’t change.

Sometimes being late doesn’t matter. If no one else cares whether they are on time or not, then they can be late and suffer the consequences alone. However, if someone else is waiting, it matters.

The Why

Being on time shows consideration and respect for the other people involved.

Being late is inconsiderate and disrespectful to the people waiting.

You and I have arranged our tasks so we can be on time.  Now we are sitting waiting. Why couldn’t they do what we did? What were they thinking?

If they considered the value of our time and thought about what else we could be doing besides waiting for them to arrive, would they care? Would they be willing to reimburse you and me for that lost time and opportunity? And Tums.

The excuses they think they have for being late are probably just that, excuses.

Reasons vs. Excuses

Sometimes there are valid reasons for being late.

They could have planned well. Maybe they got up early, had a full tank of gas, gotten on the road and should have been able to drive that distance and arrive early. However, there was an awful accident, and the interstate was completely closed, and they can’t move for hours. If they had, in fact, planned appropriately and had a time buffer built in as we would do,  then maybe we could say they did a fair job in their attempt, and we will just have to understand why they are late and be glad they are safe. It could have happened to us.

Of course, they should have our phone numbers where they can safely reach them, and keep us posted on their progress. Carefully, of course, while sitting still. They can call or text and we will politely respond “be safe,” chew a Tums, sit and wait.

But, really now, how often is that the case?

Usually, a short traffic delay of twenty minutes or a slight slowdown because of a deer on the side of the road will cause them to be late. That is because they did not plan for what is a typical situation. Then they blame it on the traffic as if traffic is a new phenomenon.

Isn’t it true that most of the time they didn’t give adequate attention to how much time each step along the way would take? They were careless and inconsiderate. So we wait.

Just about everything takes longer than we think it will, and we must be proficient at planning the timeline from the end back to the beginning, building in roadblocks and detours.

There are techniques for that, and we’ll talk about them at another time.

Well, I’ve given “them” and “they” enough grief.

On to our next appointment! We can’t be late. Not after this!

  • People will be late
  • They are irritating
  • You and I will be on time
  • We’ll wish them to “Be Safe”
  • Life goes on
Here at The Break Out Session, we work on increasing our confidence, connection, and professional presence so we can achieve more, faster, with less stress.

If your organization needs a program about Professional Presence, Basic Presentation Skills for Overcoming Stage Fright or Thinking on Your Feet and Speaking Off the Cuff, see my Speakers Page at and contact me at or 1-859-474-2806.