Better three hours too soon than a minute too late. (William Shakespeare)
Here in Mexico people tend to be late, and it is usually not a big deal. It is part of our culture. But in the United States, people place a high value on punctuality. In this article, we will tell you why you should make an extra effort to be on time every time.
When you make plan with someone, be there at the time you said you would, and if you could arrive 3-5 minutes earlier, that would be even better. Arriving earlier shows the other person that you are actually looking forward to spending time with him/her.
How much time is acceptable to be late?
You can be 5-10 minutes late, but more that that will be considered very rude. If you do not show up at all, it is called “standing someone up”, and the person you are standing up might never want to arrange another plan with you again.
Why is punctuality so important?
Americans will do everything on their hands to be on time and show commitment. That is why you would be rude if you showed up late. For example, if someone called them on the phone, they would tell that person that they can only talk for a few minutes because they have an arrangement. The other person would totally understand and would agree to call them later.
Valid and invalid excuses
Transportation problems are part of the valid excuses: your car breaking down, being stuck in traffic, missing the bus, not being able to get a cab, etc. Some other reason would include: death of a family member, an accident, being ill or not having child care. Invalid excuses include reasons such as: you were doing another thing, you were talking on the phone, you did not wake up on time, you were watching TV, etc.
What to do if you are running late?
You should call the other person as soon as you know you are going to be late. Let them know why (and have actually a good reason that you could not have foreseen), apologize as much as you can, and then ask if they are willing to meet later or do something else some other time. This will help you to not be as rude as you would be if you did not show up at all, or showed up late.
You can try the following lines to initiate the conversation:
“I am really sorry. I feel terrible about this. I really apologize and I hope you can forgive me. This is what happened…”
If you are used to being late constantly…
Being late constantly is a serious issue for Americans. If you are one of those people who is usually late, you will eventually get a bad reputation as someone who does not keep his/her word. You will be considered as someone who cannot be trusted, and this will affect your relationships with people; they might not want to be your friend, or do business with you.
So, always remember: be on time! Even if you are Mexican and being late is part of our culture, do everything you can to be on time and leave behind that bad habit of being late. Americans will appreciate it.
Have you had any bad experiences with being late? How do manage to be on time? Let us know in the comments and may you always be on time.