Know anyone who tends to be late? Do you start thinking, “how rude and disrespectful,” wonder “what’s going on,” or make alternative arrangements? What do you say or do when the person arrives?
One of my dearest friends tends to be late for gatherings (and yes, even via zoom). I love my friend, and know this about her. I used to feel frustrated. Now, I simply anticipate it. I do not schedule a one-hour lunch meeting because it might mean having about thirty minutes together, and my underlying need is for time to connect. I arrange for a more flexible time together, have a book with me, and ask her to call or message me when she’s fifteen minutes away from the meeting place. This means we now arrive closer to the same time and I have something to do if I need to wait. I no longer feel frustrated. I feel very happy to see my friend.
What if it’s not a friend, but a co-worker, co-parent, or teammate? What if the timing really matters? How do you handle it then? You choose. Could you create a clear plan about what happens if the person arrives late, and articulate it? What if you clearly state that plan with both compassion and confidence? Depending on the relationship, you may brainstorm ideas on how to meet everyone’s needs. Paying attention to underlying needs makes a difference, and helps keep focus on what really matters.