Most societies consider lateness as a negative quality. In fact, a survey by Heathrow Express shows that the UK economy loses an average of £9 billion annually due to lateness. It is frowned upon in the workplace, friends find it annoying, and it could also be a source of tension in relationships. If you are known for your tardiness, don’t worry, you’ve got science on your side.
It’s In Your Personalateness
In an article published by Metro, Somia Zaman a psychotherapist specializing in cognitive behavioural therapy and EMDR said people who are notorious for their tardiness should not be written off as rude, uncaring or deliberately trying to be annoying.
She explained that differences in personalities and other factors could account for this.
Some people are just natural born optimists who genuinely believe they can manage everything in their hectic schedules – we can call them the over-schedulers. But their tendency to pack too much into each day means they are always going to be running late for something.
But, it’s not always that this group of people are happy to over-schedule or are looking forward to a busy day full of exciting meetings and events. Sometimes, they are people-pleasers who are not comfortable saying no.
Some over-schedulers are people who have trouble saying no, fearing they may offend someone, or miss out on an important opportunity (FOMO). In this case, their unrealistic plans for the day are a reflection of their worries rather than their excitement.
According to Somia, there are some who have built lateness into their personality, as people no longer expects them to be on time. She refers to this as the ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ type.
Response To Expectations
Then there is the procrastinator, who always manages to be preoccupied with doing something else at the time they are supposed to meet up or attend an event. Somia said:
With this group, there may be some element of executive dysfunction. But they might also be struggling with some level of anxiety, which makes the transition of leaving one place for another difficult for them.
There could be another explanation for your tardiness, and that relates to how you unconsciously respond to inner and outer expectations.
According to Geraldine Joaquim, psychotherapist at Mind Your Business, punctual people tend to respond well to outer accountability, therefore placing more emphasis on meeting external expectations while latecomers are more focused on fulfilling their own needs first.
But, Geraldine was quick to add that this should not be mistaken for selfishness or rudeness.
It’s not rudeness, it’s not a conscious thought process – often they try their best to be on time – but it doesn’t always work.
How To Handle Their Lateness
The experts also point out that childhood behaviour, mental health and neurodiversity are factors impacting your relationship with time.
So what do you do if you are the friend, partner or colleague who is always waiting for the late-comer to arrive?
Psychological Wellbeing Facilitator at Vita Health Group, Lucie Ironman, has this advice for you:
Don’t assume that person is doing it on purpose or does not value your time. There is often more going on, deeper than the eye can see. Acknowledging that someone else’s lateness is not personal can help you manage your stress levels. Plus, facing the situation with compassion rather than anger may help the latecomer feel more relaxed