For many years, teachers have highlighted the importance of being punctual, not only for the meeting or the other person’s sake but for one’s self. When we show up to a meeting at the exact time we say we would, we develop a sense of responsibility and pride for being able to do what we have said and are most likely to repeat the act.
Even if the other party runs late, arriving early gives one time to settle and prepare for the meeting and puts the other party in an apologetic mode, ready to compromise to compensate for being late, this can be the difference between the success and failure of the meeting.
Perhaps punctuality is most important in business, as the saying goes ‘time is money’. Many businessmen have ruined profitable opportunities by being late to meetings. Lateness more than anything communicates unprofessionalism; it puts into question everything you say,’ if you say you will be here at two o’clock and you were not, how am I sure you can or will deliver on what you say; besides you have not stuck to your words so far’.
Punctuality on the other hand communicates discipline and reliability; every other factor considered no businessman will shun a person who is punctual, he/she is seen as serious and professional. Many successful businessmen stress the importance of punctuality in their success; many say it is their secret.
I once had an interview with a very picky businessman, the friend who recommended me the job told tales of his impatient and rude nature. Although the appointment had been scheduled a month earlier, I turned up early as possible on the date and waited, it turned out he had forgotten about the meeting and was extremely sorry, later he disclosed that my punctuality to the meeting was what convinced him to give me the job.
More than anything punctuality communicates respect for the other party and interest in the purpose of the meeting. It makes sense that we devote our time to things we consider important, thus people are honored when people turn up on time for meetings it means the meeting is important to us.
Even worse than being late is being late with excuses, this only adds to an already questionable reputation because we shift blame to some other individual or process. If you are running late and there is nothing you can do to prevent it, it is best to contact the other person and inform them of your situation that way he/she can decide if to wait or postpone the meeting rather than keep them staring at the ceiling, at the door and out of the window.