Late People

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My office pet peeve are people who get to meetings late. When I run a meeting we’ll wait 5 minutes for everyone to get settled and then begin. I do not do a recap for the late arrivals – if they want to know what happened in the first 10 or 15 minutes, they can ask me after the meeting is done. When the emotional payoff of feeling important or exceptional isn’t catered to, some of the chronically late actually make it to a meeting (almost) on time…

In the November 13 edition of the Wall Street Journal, writer Jared Sandberg penned a very funny–and pointed–“Cubicle Culture” column on late people. Here’s an excerpt:

“Most people prefer messiness, loud noises and even bad smells to late people. In a recent study commissioned by staffing firm Randstand USA, 54% of respondents said others’ poor time management skills drove them nuts. Even late people can’t stand when others are late, in part because from the point of view of habitually late people, meetings start very promptly.”

“What makes people late? Maybe it’s being overly optimistic about the time needed to commute and park, a warm bed in a cold room, or a task for which no amount of planning can apportion adequate time: getting that second sock on a toddler’s foot. ”

“Most chronically late people consistently underestimate time by 25% to 30% says Diane DeLonzor, author of “Never Be Late Again.” “Late people indulge in magical thinking,” she says. “They remember that day 10 years ago when they made it to work in seven minutes flat. That becomes their standard.”

“That explains one of the most baffling types of late people: Those who are routinely late by a precise amount of time–the punctually late.”

“There’s not one comprehensive theory why everyone’s late,” said Piers Steel, a professor at the University of California’s Haskayne School of Business who authored an article earlier this year called, “The Nature of Procrastination.” But one primary cause is that people “can’t get motivated well before their deadlines.”

One thought on “Late People

  1. Your article was very interesting. It shed some light on the subject for me. It was a surprise to me that people prefer messiness, or bad smells to someone who is consistently late. Maybe it surprised me because I am one of the people who are consistenly late. I agree that we probably are optimistic about time, underestimate the time that is needed, and maybe some cannot get themselves motivated in enough time for their deadlines. I’ve heard also their are those that like the emotional payoff. Although as for the last one I can’t understand the emotional payoff being worth the shame and embarassment that goes along with being a person who is consistently late. I’ve fought this problem with myself for most of my life. I’ve gone over it so many times, trying to figure it out. I know, for my part, I do underestimate the time I need, and I’m kinda a perfectionist.I have a theory that it can be cultural. I am hispanic and I watch those of my own race and see that many of us are not so wound up. Also my other theory is children who are the youngest of the family. I think that they get used to having others fend for them and are not taught to be self-sufficient. I’m really curious about my theories and do my own “research”, but I’m sure it might not be very accurate. Have you researched this angle? I would really appreciate more input on this subject as one who suffers along with those of you who put up with people like me. Thanks for your time : )

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