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Don't Waste My Time: The Art of Respect in Business

The call was scheduled for 1pm. At 1:15 I sent an email wondering what happened. I received an out of office reply back. Apparently, the call wasn't going to happen as scheduled.

This wasn't the first time I found myself waiting on a meeting.

I am the type of person who thinks being five minutes early is actually arriving late. I get increasingly anxious as the clock ticks closer to the meeting time. If I am, through a series of unanticipated circumstances, going to arrive late - or even exactly on time - I call or text and let the other party know where I am and why. I do this for professional meetings. I do this when I am casually meeting friends at the bar. I do this because time is incredibly important to me. And it is more than just a number on a clock. It is a representation of whether or not I respect you and consider your time as valuable as mine.

So - how can you change this in your life? It depends on which side of the clock you're on.

If you're always late:
  • Don't just apologize, create an action item. Know that you've wasted their time and change your approach in the next meeting. If you don't, there may not be any more meetings. 
  • Leave yourself extra time to arrive somewhere. Most people who are late aren't consciously trying to be late. They think they have more time to make it somewhere but don't account for unforeseen issues.  But I'm not the expert. Check out this article to learn more.
If you've been stood up:
  • Continue the meeting as schedule. This only works if there are other parties involved. If you're in a corporate meeting, for instance, simply start the meeting and don't stop or allow late participants to disrupt the conversation. 
  • Weigh the options for rescheduling, or not. You also have to determine if this meeting is critical to you, your career, or your well being. It may be that working with chronically late people who do not value your time isn't a good business move for you. I let the person who missed the meeting set the next time. And, if they fail to arrive for that meeting, I decline to work with them further. 
"Being late is a way of saying your own time is more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you." - Karen Joy Fowler


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