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How Do Others Perceive You When You Are Late

Imagine, you and your friends have a planned dinner at 7 o’clock tonight. You and your friends have coordinated the dinner around everyone’s busy schedules and routines. You make it a habit of showing up on time because you value the time of your friends. However, one of your friend's texts says they will be 20 minutes late. What is your gut reaction?

Sometimes, it’s a write-off; things can happen that are unpredictable in our lives every day. But if this person is chronically late, it starts to have an impact on your relationship with them. You question whether they actually care about you and your time, or if they simply just aren’t paying attention. They seem almost untrustworthy.

There are plenty of reasons why people fall into the habit of being late. No matter the reason, it gets the attention of your peers, and not always in a good way.

Why People Are Late

There are many reasons why someone is always late, whether that be in their control or out of it. Sometimes, people just do not have a good perception of time, and while they think they have all this time to get ready and go, it’s actually less than they thought. Other times, people can have poor judgment on the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point B. This can transcend into any concept like going from your house to a restaurant or starting a book and finishing it.

While you can work on those things, being consistently late may not always be so easy to control. Sometimes unpunctuality has to do with the type of person you are and what you are dealing with at the time. Research shows that the punctuality-challenged often share the personality characteristics such as optimism, low self-control, anxiety, or a knack for thrill-seeking. Another research study showed the difference between Type A people and Type B people. Type A (ambitious and competitive) could estimate how long a minute passes better than Type B (creative and explorative). Sometimes, it’s down to a science.

How People Perceive Others Who Are Always Late

Even though research shows there are plausible reasons for tardiness, still, the perception of the punctually challenged is not a fabulous one. The feeling of having to wait on someone constantly can create negative connotations with being late. Here are a few perceptions:


You think your time is more valuable. On-time individuals often believe your tardiness amounts to some aspect of respect. If you are always late, it portrays that you don’t value the time of someone else.

You lack motivation. People who are late are not lazy, but that’s what it looks like. Because if you know the deadline of something, how hard is it to meet it, right?

You aren’t trustworthy. Someone who claims to be there at a specific time, but is repeatedly late, starts to lose value in their words. People who are on time do not trust someone who says one thing but cannot follow through.

How Can You Fix This?

If being late is something that you can’t fix, try to find solutions for those who are always waiting on you. Communication is key to a strong foundation and maintaining relationships.


Source: Sheryl Nscr Nash (2020) Why Some People Are Always Late

Source: Philippa Perry (2020) The Surprising Psychology of Perpetual Lateness


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