You’re waiting for your date who was supposed to be here at 7. It’s 7:05. It’s 7:10. It’s 7:15. You were here at 7, why were they not here at 7, you wonder, as they roll up, profusely apologetic, at 7:19. It would be so simple, so, so simple, for them to show up when they said they would, like a normal person.
Except, according to management consultant Diana DeLonzor, author of Never Be Late Again, it isn’t simple at all. “Punctual people misunderstand,” she tells Refinery29. “They think [a late person is] doing it as a control thing, or that [they’re] selfish or inconsiderate. But, it really is a much more complex problem than it seems.” Lateness feels like a passive-aggressive gesture, but that doesn’t mean it is a passive-aggressive gesture (usually). There are deep-rooted personality characteristics at play — anxiety, distraction, ambivalence. It’s not you, it’s their issues. As a chronically late and very anxious person, I concur: my issues. Please forgive my issues. Also, I’m sorry.
But while lateness shouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker (I have so many redeeming characteristics!), neither is it a particularly endearing trait. It is, one might go so far as to say, a habit worth breaking. And so for those of us in the 7:19 camp, DeLonzor offers some suggestions.
Figure out what kind of late you are.
Are you late because you’re bad at time management, or because you’re forgetful, or because you’re afraid of being bored if you’re early? Diagnosis is the first step to recovery.
If HopStop says it will take you 31 minutes to get to that restaurant, it does not mean that it will take you 31 minutes to get to that restaurant. Trains. Spills. Weather. Leave time for contingencies.
Deal with waiting.
Being alone for a few minutes while you wait for whoever to show up is supposedly not terrifying. Read a book. Play Candy Crush on your mobile device. Call your mom. You can do this.
It’s going to be hard, DeLonzor admits, but the pathologically tardy can overcome their habits. And probably they (we) should, starting with the snooze button tomorrow morning and an increasing awareness of the reality that is public transportation. That said, on-time people, have a little sympathy. Together, we shall overcome.