Being Late. Is it good business etiquette?

“Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential”

Will Cuppy.

Manners is about respect for other people, whether in business or in a social setting. It is not old-fashioned to have good manners. It has nothing to do with ‘fashion’ or ‘generation’.

Is it OK to be late for a meeting or an appointment?

Too often in business, people run late for meetings and when they arrive, are often ill prepared. They think nothing of drifting into a meeting, 5, 10 or 15 minutes after starting time.

Professional managers do not find this acceptable.

I was recently at a meeting where 6 people were kept waiting in a meeting for 20 minutes, until one team member idled their way in, unprepared and 20 minutes late. That equals 6 people times 20 minutes each or 120 minutes wasted. Yes, 2 hours wasted. How much has that cost the business?

The best thing to do to prevent this wastage is to start the meeting without them. They are unlikely to be late next time.

Although cost is a factor, it is the lack of respect for the other six people in the meeting that is also important, whether you are their manager or the business owner is not relevant.

This lack of respect can flow through the whole organisation and it can tell you a lot about the values being promoted within an organisation.

There are other actions in meetings that are NOT acceptable and show lack of respect:

Making and taking phone calls during meeting. It is both rude and disrespectful.

  1. Checking emails or texts during a meeting.
  2. Not being prepared.

If you can’t give the meeting your time, don’t attend. It is as simple as that.

This manifests itself in other ways. Failure to return phone calls or reply to emails is just plain rude. It is like someone saying good morning to you and you ignoring them. In my experience, most of the people who are late for meetings are generally the same people who are not prepared for meetings and check their texts and take and make phone calls during the meeting.

With important meetings, I always try and be 5 minutes early just in case there is a problem. If you are unavoidably late, call or text 15 minutes before the scheduled time. Its good manners and also shows respect. Much more can be achieved when you show respect. If you show respect, in most cases it will be returned not only making your job easier but by achieving a constructive outcome for the business.

Before I went into business I worked for a business owner who was extremely successful and wealthy. He always opened the door for you, allowing you to enter and leave first and was never late for meetings. Even when we had company team gym sessions, he always made sure he was the last person to take a shower. It goes without saying he was highly respected and managed an exceptionally successful business.

We all lead ‘busy lives’. It’s a cop-out to use that as an excuse. Do you really think that your time is more important than someone else’s?

Apparently much of the success achieved by Nelson Mandela in finally toppling apartheid in South Africa was his ability to treat everybody with respect, including his prison guards on Robben Island. I can remember watching a TV documentary program on Mandela, where he was described as giving people his undivided attention and time. It made people feel valued and important. In the TV program there was a section graphically showing Mandela publically chastising the then President, Thabo Mbeke when he showed a lack of respect for arriving late to a meeting he was to address where Mandela was also a guest of honour.

Remember good etiquette and manners pays off………….so as a business owner, manager or supervisor are you showing people adequate respect?

One thought on “Being Late. Is it good business etiquette?

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