We all have that one friend who says, "I'll be there around 7," but then shows up at 9:30. These are words on a picture that have been making their rounds on social media for years and I'm sure most people can relate to them. Either you have late friends or you are the one who is always late.
I fit into the always early or on time category. Even when I want to arrive fashionably late, I'm normally the first one there. I've dealt with late people every now and again and it's something that irritates me.
I don't really want to turn this into a negative let's criticise late people and make them feel bad about themselves rant because I strongly believe in empowering people rather than bringing them down. I would like to just discuss the downside to arriving late just to give you a new perspective. You may not intend to insult or hurt anyone's feelings by arriving late and who knows - maybe the traffic really was bad. It's important to recognise how the person waiting may be feeling though.
I've discovered two reasons why you should arrive on time. The first is that you're telling the other person that you value them.
I'm sure you've been late to school before. You haven't planned or hurried up because you don't feel like sitting and listening to some boring teacher yapping on about something irrelevant. You don't value school because you've been forced to go there and do work you may find unenjoyable. When you're demotivated by something it's more difficult to put effort in.
Now when you're late to an appointment with your friend, they may think that you view them in the same way that you view school. "Ah, I have to see boring old Jenny again." If you are excited to see Jenny, logic says you will arrive early so that you can spend as much time with her as possible.
Of course you may actually want to see Jenny but you'll still arrive late. When my friends are late I don't think, "Ah they don't value me. They don't want to see me." I'm actually just thinking that they're disorganised and unreliable. Some people may feel like you don't value them though. Keep that in mind. If you want your friend to feel like you care about them then arrive on time. This also starts the appointment on a positive note.
If you don't like Jenny, then instead of arriving late, tell her that you don't want to spend time with her anymore. Don't force yourself to attend things with people you don't like.
The second reason why you should arrive on time is that you're telling the person that you respect their time. So say that I'm supposed to meet you at 9am. You arrive 5 minutes beforehand and so you sit at the table, looking down at your phone so that you don't look awkward. 5 minutes goes by and I'm now late. You then spend the next 15 minutes interchanging between your phone, the menu and people watching.
You had control over the first 5 minutes when it was 8:55. I have control over your time though as soon as it's 9:00 and I haven't arrived yet. I'm basically forcing you to wait. I'm wasting your time. You can do a number of things in 15 minutes - sleep in longer, read some of your book, lie on the couch, watch tv, catch up on work, study for the test. Even if you decide to do nothing, you are choosing to do nothing. That's your choice.
It's different now that you're waiting for me at the restaurant, doing nothing. I'm stealing your time. I suppose you may try to get some of it back by bringing a book with, or getting up to look at the clothing store 50m away. You won't be 100% committed to those tasks though since you'll still be looking around for me.
That for me is the main reason you should always arrive on time. If you are late, you come across as a selfish person since you're making my time about you. If you do find yourself in this position, thank the person for waiting. Then plan ahead and get there early next time.
Another point to take into account: if you are running late, be honest and tell the person exactly where you are. "I'm just around the corner," tells the person that there is not enough time for them to get up and go window shopping. If that's a lie and you actually haven't left the house, then you are wasting even more of their time. Furthermore, once the lie becomes clear, the person waiting may feel insulted and you'll probably lose brownie points.
All in all, arriving on time makes you look professional. You give off a better impression. If you do struggle to arrive on time, leave a few minutes earlier than you usually would. Also communicate with the person that you're meeting so that they're aware of what's happening.