The Chronically Late: How To Deal With People Who Always Keep You Waiting

waiting for latecomers

by Femita

The chronically late. Maybe you are one of them, maybe your best friend is. Why can they never be on time? And more importantly, what can you do about it?

Which type of chronically late person are you dealing with?

The first step is to discover which kind of latecomer you’re dealing with. In her book ‘Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged’, Diana Delonzor distinguishes between 7 types of chronically late people.

  • The rationalizer: You always blame outside circumstances and never run out of excuses. It’s not your fault you are late, so why would you take responsibility for it?
  • The producer: Friends see you as the always-busy type of person. You have a hectic schedule and want to squeeze as much activities in one day as possible.
  • The indulger: A lack of self-discipline is your weak point. As an accomplished procrastinator you put things off and always feel you are running out of time.
  • The absent-minded professor: Disorganized to say the least. You are caught up in your own thoughts and are easily distracted. Time management is not your cup of tea.
  • The deadliner: For you, there’s nothing like the rush you get from a last-minute sprint. It makes you feel alive.
  • The rebel: By running late, you try to exert control over your own life. It’s a matter of breaking the rules, challenging authority and feeling free.
  • The evader: Driven by anxiety or low self esteem, you never manage to arrive on time. You are caught up in your own routines. and have problems with self-organization.

What to do if you are one of them

  • Know which type of latecomer you are and why you are always late. To take action, you first need to know where the problem lies.
  • Everyday do something that demands self-discipline. See it as a form of training.
  • Work on your time awareness. For a week try and estimate how long each daytime activity will take. In the evening do a reality check and evaluate your assessment.
  • Get organized. Buy an appointment book or daily planner and eliminate distractions.
  • Leave room for margin and learn to wait. If you arrive somewhere too early, read a book or create a shopping list. It’s not a waste of time.
  • Keep your goal in mind. No more stress, guilt or bad reputation. There is a way out.

How to handle someone else who is one of them

  • Don’t take it personally. Most people are not constantly late due to a lack of respect.
  • Be open. Don’t bottle up frustrations. If something is bothering you, bring it up in a calm and respectful way.
  • Draw the line. Make an agreement that you will leave after you have been waiting for 15 minutes.
  • Pick your battles. If a person is ten minutes late for a movie and you miss the first part that’s worse than being late for dinner. React accordingly.
  • Show your appreciation when the notorious latecomer is on time for once. A pat on the back can be a great motivator.
  • Be patient. It takes a while to overcome bad habits.

How do you handle chronically late people in your life? Do you prefer a direct or more laid-back approach?


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pottering March 11, 2012 at 3:13 am

Chronic tardiness is best described as a result of narcissism. By that I mean the always late person is only thinking about themselves because they are never inconvenienced, just those who arrive on time are. They are subconsciously thinking, “If it doesn’t adversely affect me, why would anyone else be upset?” Of this rational never takes into account the feelings of others.

Of course continual late-comers exhibit this behaviour to show everyone else how important they are, you’re waiting for them not the other way around.

These narcissistic types are easily spotted. Simply start a meeting/meal/whatever exactly on time and watch them howl when they arrive fashionably late and complain how you’ve begun without them. Their rationale will be, “But I’m only X minutes late!!” My response to the usual suspects who utter this is, “By your reckoning, but by mine you’re about 3 days late cumulatively, given that you always arrive late.”


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