Chronically late individuals often experience great stress, feel shame about inconveniencing others and at times end up defeating their own goals. Yet, for some, this conduct is repetitious and hard to change. Conversely, prompt individuals expect others to be equally time-minded and feel bewildered, frustrated, disrespected and hurt by the tardiness of others. Are these behavioral acts amenable to change?
Ethnologist Edward Teller observed that cultures around the world utilize one of two modes of time management, “Monochromic” or “Polychromic”. He stated, “The Monochromic style involves using time efficiently and productively and abstaining from frivolous and tangential actions for greater efficacy, which is most commonly practiced in industrial societies.
The Polychromic style entails Multitasking and is driven by personal relationships. Polychromic time prioritizes context over process, and makes it difficult for people to abruptly end conversations in mid-stream when the clock strikes the hour. This style in more commonly seen in Latin and Mediterranean cultures, where work progress is often unpredictable.”
Though the U.S. is a Monochromic society, technology is certainly impacting our habits and social inclinations. In “Is punctuality a Virtue or a Vice? How Mobile Phones and Social Media are Changing Our Relationship to Time” Thor Muller states, “Social media and mobile phones are creating a strong tidal pull towards the polychromic behaviors. Our phones are always on, interrupting us with notifications about what others are doing and saying. This forces us to embrace more multitasking, more fluidity in our daily activities. These many small changes all add up to a potentially massive shift in how we engage with time itself.”
In social situations, the tardy individual does elicit dissatisfied reactions from those who stretched to be punctual and had to wait for his/her arrival. The psychological concerns about being “stood up” abandoned, or disrespected often promote insecurity and hurt feelings for the prompt arriver. The concerns about possible mishaps that may have beleaguered the tardy party are often concealed for the sake of maintaining a harmonious relationship. Some restrain themselves from expressing their dismay and may even minimize the impact of this tardiness for the sake of preserving a positive connection. Others may state their concerns about the wellbeing of the tardy person as a way to quell their own anxiety. Recurring tardiness may leave the waiting party feeling discounted and annoyed.
The reputation of the chronically tardy party may be temporarily tarnished as a way for the waiting party to restore his/her sense of worthiness and security.
Manage tardiness gracefully,
- Apologize for being late and reassure the waiting party that you are looking forward to sharing time with him/her.
- Be vigilant about not being chronically late for your reputation and the preservation of a positive connection with others.
- Understand that texting about your tardiness does not excuse your conduct.
- Make sure that this behavior is not repeated since it will damage your reputation and reduce your chances for cementing healthy personal or professional relationships with others.