Always running late.  There might be a reason why.

What’s reason for being late this time?

Everybody has a friend who is always late. But how does that make you feel about them? Do you consider it rude? Something that they should have changed after the first couple of apologies? Every time, you ask them ‘What’s the reason this time for being late?’

Well it turns out that lateness is something that might not be easy to help.

There is research that suggests that lateness can actually be a personality trait – as documented by Diana Delonzor. Delonzor writes that you are actually pre-disposed to be late rather than meaning to be late with the intention to waste people’s time(as many may think).

There are several personality characteristics that will create the lateness trait. One characteristic is the thrill. These people like to rush, they feel that they are being more productive if things are done quickly, such as getting ready or making a journey. They will try to fit in as much as they can to every minute so are usually late by accident as they will fill their last minute with an activity which may take longer than a minute. This leads us to the next point – time perceptions. There is a vast difference in how each person perceives time. DeLonzor conducted a study in an American university where they asked 225 people to read a book for 90 minutes and stop when they feel 90 minutes is up. Those that passed 90 minutes did not pass the time mark by a little way, it was nearly 20 minutes after. And the rest stopped reading before 90 minutes. This highlights a significant difference in people’s perceptions. There was an added step to this study – everybody that participated also took a personality test. It was found that those that stopped reading late, were also prone to tardiness in everyday life and also suffered a far higher level of anxiety & distraction.

This anxiety and distraction could also mean that these people may be late a lot as they find it hard to say no to extra tasks and dislike letting people down or making situations awkward. So they will rush to help everybody and inevitably, be late.

There is one last interesting take on time keeping, which can be helped by Neuro-Lingustic programming. This separates people’s thought processes into ‘In- time’ or ‘Through-time’ by an identifiable logic called ‘Timeline orientation’. In – time people cannot see past the now. They live for the moment and find it hard to visualise the past and future. They are however; very good at being spontaneous and fitting things in quickly, even though they may be late for their next appointment.

Through time people find it easy to perceive the future and see everything they are doing now as a process to ‘later on’. The see the past and present as a horizontal timeline with the present in front of them so can detect when they are likely to be late which means that planning is essential!

So next time your friend or colleague is late, rather than dismay them as rude or lazy, think about how you can make this constructive. Ask them to meet you earlier than you need to, so their lateness will balance out. Or give the tardy person in question a deadline. Make it clear that you will only wait 10 minutes past your agreed meeting time. This shows that your time is valuable to you and you will not be left waiting. It is the hope that the lateness will decline as it is learnt how serious you are.

However, remember, it’s not necessarily their fault.