Late Co-Workers Driving You Nuts?


WomensMedia, Contributor

September 25, 2015

By Maria Gamb

Melissa picks up her Starbucks double-shot cappuccino and heads for the office. The extra shot will do her well, she thinks; “we have an early start to the day.”  She’s called an 8:30 am meeting with her team. The following day she’s leaving for India on a business trip, so the meeting is to ensure that everyone is on task while she’s out of town. By 8:15 am she’s at her desk, organizing notes and assembling a checklist, then in a seat at the conference table no later than 8:22 am. She takes a sip of her coffee in between greeting her team members when they arrive. 8:30 am comes, and then 8:40 am. She looks around the room and 2 team members are missing. Looking at the smartphone in her hand, she checks her texts to see if they have been delayed in traffic. Nothing.

Melissa begins the meeting, all the while silently fuming at the inconsideration of those who haven’t bothered to show up on time, but they saunter in 25 minutes late with their own favorite Starbucks drink in hand. Her inner voice reminds her that they probably had to wait at least 10-15 minutes for the happy-go-lucky baristas to prepare that drink, further calculating and deducing that they were already late but still stopped to get a drink before heading into the meeting. More steam comes out of her ears. “The absolute rudeness and total lack of regard for me and their team members!” she boils.

Tardiness is a polite way of framing such behavior. Many of us would feel much like Melissa; annoyed, disrespected and angry at those who are always… late. To be fair, we do need to make some considerations for unexpected occurrences, such a crash on the freeway or the train breaking down. It happens. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about those who have often been dubbed “Our Lady of Perpetual Lateness” or “His Royal Tardiness”. Yes, you know who I’m talking about. And it might even be you. They are the person who arrives at a meeting more than 15 minutes after the start time, the individual who asks you to pick them up at the train station so you can drive to an appointment together but arrives 20 minutes late. Or they could even be the family member who you know you have to tell to arrive at an event 1 hour before the real start time in order for them to be on time.

It’s infuriating and frustrating. Oftentimes we may feel like it’s a blatant lack of regard for you and others. It can seem like a slap in the face; your time isn’t as valuable as theirs. The list goes on. Recently, observing those who behave in such a manner caused me to research exactly why people are late. Is it really disrespect? Laziness? A lack of regard for others, or something else all together?

Diana Delozor, author of “Never Be Late Again”, details that there are actually 7 personalities associated with our tardy friends and family. In fact, only 1 is a personality that is specifically trying to push your buttons. As I’ve written many times in the past, if one can understand the issue, it’s a lot easier to establish different expectations and directives that create a desired result. Meaning, it helps you to not be so angry with them and risk blowing your cool.

The first is “The Deadliner”, who loves the thrill of the adrenaline rush that comes with only just making a deadline or appointment.

Next comes “The Producer”, known for over scheduling and believing wholeheartedly that 15 different tasks can be accomplished in under an hour, regardless of geographic proximity or time zones.

“The Absent-Minded Professor” is often distracted by the next thing that captures their attention, completely forgetting what they were doing in the first place.

The fourth personality is “The Rebel” – this is the button pusher. They enjoy knowing that people are waiting for them. It makes them feel important.

The one most of us may identify with is “The Rationalizer”, who blames external variables for their tardiness every time.

“The Indulger” is simply the person continually hitting the snooze button because they just don’t want to be there, wherever that is.

And the final personality is “The Evader”, the person who is so obsessed with perfectionism that they can’t let it go to hit the deadline or make that meeting.

The next time Our Lady of Perpetual Lateness or His Royal Tardiness appears, you have an alternative to internally combusting. First, identify which personality you are dealing with. If you cannot, ask questions of that person that will help you identify if they are hitting that snooze button repeatedly or whether it was a distraction that made them late, etc.

Once you know who you are talking to, it’s much easier to use the methods Delozor suggests. Help them identify how much they’re cramming into a day, detail the professional repercussions of tardiness and the perception of others, and make the distinction that although an 8:30am meeting does indeed start at 8:30am, the expectation is that they should be in their seat by 8:20am. These are some of the basic tools you can utilize. However, if you or someone you know is extremely tardy, my sincere suggestion is to give them Delozor’s book. There’s a wealth of wisdom imparted based on a study she did in the 1990’s for San Francisco State University. Indeed, I think I’ll be ordering a number of copies to share with others as well. And never forget, their lateness is not about disrespecting you— don’t take it personally.

Maria Gamb is the Amazon Top 10 best-selling author of “Healing the Corporate World” and CEO of NMS Communications, the corporate consulting and training company. Website: Twitter: @mariagamb

This article was written by WomensMedia from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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