(originally published October 21, 2010)
There are lots of ways to show others disrespect. One very typical example of disrespectful behavior is being chronically late. Oh, people have lots of excuses: the dog, the computer, the kid, the traffic, the moon spots, and, of course “stuff happens.”
I’m not talking about an isolated event. I’m talking about a pattern
of behavior. Being chronically late not only messes up plans, it hurts feelings. I believe more often than not, chronic lateness is passive-aggressive behavior. That means the individual who is always late is saying (in code): “I am more important than you; you can’t tell me what to do; you are not in control of me; I will do what I wish
to do,” and more. Instead of saying all this directly, however, the behavior
says it while the conversation is one of “Oh, I’m sorry. I tried to make it on time.” The meaning behind the behavior is the “aggression,” and the attempt to make it seem accidental is the “passive” part.
It is also true many folks just pile too much into a day to properly handle all their responsibilities; such anxiety-directed personalities find themselves always up to their eyeballs in too many self-selected obligations, responsibilities, busy work, promises, desires, and on and on and on.
And now, people can email and text and call from a little hand phone. They very likely feel less and less upset about being late and making others wait because (they rationalize) “At least I’m letting them know of my progress.”
None of that, however, changes the frustration, disappointment and hurt in the hearts and minds of those left waiting…and waiting…and waiting.
Relationships have been lost over this misbehavior, and rightfully so. Friendships are supposed to be reciprocal in interest, thoughtfulness, compassion and respect. When they are consistently lopsided, it is no longer a healthy friendship.
I had a friend who was chronically late. Nonetheless, we planned to go to an event together. I warned her most clearly: “If you are not here at the stroke of 7 or before, turn your car around. I’ll be gone, probably permanently.” This friend was there about 30 seconds before 7.
Rules and expectations and consequences have to be considered. It’s one thing to be disrespected by someone; it is quite another to constantly permit it to happen. This just gives the chronic “latester” more permission to repeat the behavior. Remember, I’m not talking about unavoidable circumstances. I am
talking about patterns of behavior.