Integrity Matters
January 19, 2005

Respect the time of others: Be punctual

Question: (E-166)

Dear Jim:

Why doesn't everyone come to meetings on time? Whatever happened to notifying others when schedules change? Am I expecting too much?


You are not expecting too much. Professional behavior demands integrity, and that includes respect for the time of others.

Every encounter is an opportunity to build or tear down operating processes that communicate trust and respect. Listening is essential. Follow-up in timely ways is important.

But if the easiest part of the connection is ignored -- namely showing up on time -- then what message is communicated? Here the answers are complicated. If an individual is sloppy or late about time commitments, once or even twice, and has apologized, there may be no issue.

However, if the pattern persists, think about this:

Being late suggests that one person does not respect the time of others. Who wants to be in a relationship, business or otherwise, when not respected? Getting fired, divorced and "not chosen" are expensive consequences.

Not apologizing communicates that others are not important or that fundamental social graces are unimportant.

Repeating any rude behavior, even a seemingly minor one, for whatever variety of social or cultural reasons, will not build trust.

Rudeness, such as being late, is difficult to justify. When individuals choose to ignore basic and commonly accepted social rules of engagement, they erode confidence.

It is bad business to frustrate those on whom we depend, personally or professionally. Respecting time, our own and that of others, is an act of integrity -- and it matters.

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