Super Late: How we treat time says a lot about how much we respect other people’s time


The way that you feel about and deal with timekeeping is really a matter of values, namely your personal values, the ones that speak for your character.


It’s not that things don’t happen and that none of us can ever be late but how we typically treat time does say a lot about how much we respect other people’s time as well as our own.

People who don’t really care about keeping people waiting or disrupting their schedules, have an over-inflated sense of their own importance. When did common courtesy die a death? In an age where you could almost say that we’re over-connected, how the hell can a person fail to notify us that they’re going to be late when we have mobile phones, texts, email, Facebook, WhatsApp, IM, Skype, Twitter, Instagram and the list goes on?

When we don’t respect and value our own time (boundaries), we over-promise ourselves in the name of pleasing and fear of saying no, winding up malnourished in the self-care department. We also don’t acknowledge where our concept of how long it’s going to take to do something or get somewhere, is inaccurate.



Habitually late people have an element of passive aggression in there and some will have people pleasing in there too.


Some people discovered that they can actually control others with their timekeeping – a form of rebellion that lets them play out the resentment they’re masking. This means that a habit may have been formed to get back at someone else in their past and then it became their default and they haven’t realised how it’s not working for them when they for instance, keep pushing the boundaries with the time they show up at work. Some people observed other tardy folk and it became learned behaviour. It might even have become a coping mechanism for dealing with an environment with little or no time boundaries.


What we do or we don’t accept in terms of our own timekeeping and that of others, is personal, so what’s OK for one person or a particular relationship isn’t going to work for another.

Late person + Late person = similar wavelengths
Punctual + Late person = problems

If you’re habitually late, try to consider other people’s positions (empathy) as well as the commitments that you’re making and get familiar with your habits and acknowledge any passive aggression lurking beneath, no matter how small. Be more realistic with your time and give as much notice as possible so that people have a chance to adjust their schedule, or yes, reschedule you. Only say yes to what you can stick to.


If you find that you’re very stressed by your own timekeeping due to fear of being late or you want to unearth clues to your tardiness, get a piece of paper or journal and list any memories of you (or others) being late or feeling controlled by someone else’s schedule or feeling that you were in control of a person via your timekeeping – these are the associations driving your habits. Examine any that hold an emotional charge for you (strong positive or negative reaction) so that you can evolve beyond the past – these old habits can cause you to feel small.

Of course tardiness is annoying to be on the receiving end of and it can feel very personal but if we recognise that it’s their habit, not a missile created for and aimed at us, we can find ways to protect us from being significantly inconvenienced.

Super Late: How we treat time says a lot about how much we respect other people’s time

Leave a Reply