People who are always late usually have problems planning and organizing their time. This usually stems from one of the following causes:
1. They try to fit too much in and forget to allow for the unexpected.
2. They don’t have the discipline to pull themselves away from whatever they’re doing.
3. They hate the idea of being early themselves and having to wait for others.
4. They think they’ll gain status or seem busy by having others wait for them.
5. Or they’ve simply gotten in the habit of being late.
There are endless reasons people have for being late. But there’s one thing they seem to overlook — the message they send. Repeated tardiness says that their time is more important than yours. Such recurrent disregard for others wears out a relationship, even if it is unintentional.
However, we don’t necessarily want to break off friendships because of a person’s inability to follow Lombardi time. Everybody has flaws.
Life is too short to lecture, complain, fight, and try to change someone who won’t change. So in dealing with dilatory dudes, we should make the most of our time in spite of them. Here are some ways in which we can structure our meetings so that we won’t end up waiting:
1. Only meet in locations where you can be comfortably busy doing something productive or enjoyable — e.g., don’t meet on a street corner.
2. Let your tardy friends know that you’ll be leaving by a certain time, and be sure to leave at that time. Eventually, they will learn that they will miss out if they are late.
3. Meet up with several friends, so that you can enjoy your time without wondering when your late friend will finally arrive.
4. Most importantly, plan to enjoy your time without them, and without the expectancy that they will show up — e.g., go ahead and order dinner and start eating without them. When we stop sacrificing our time for our late friends, then we can truly enjoy them without resentment when and if they do show up.
Even couples can structure their lives so that they can avoid the resentment that festers when one person is always waiting for the other. I know a couple where the husband always runs an hour late. The wife now takes her own car to events and dinners because she doesn’t like to be late. She has accepted his flaw, and has found a way to deal with it without ongoing conflict and without having to become late herself. While it’s too bad not to drive together, it’s wonderful to avoid useless disagreements that normally result from pushing someone to hurry.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD