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No, You Are Not ‘Running Late’, You Are Rude and Selfish (2011) (firebrandtalent.com)
22 points by chrisbennet 34 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 33 comments

While I agree with this article to some extent, I have also had my eyes opened up to a very plausible alternative. Etiquette surrounding meeting start and end times turns out to be are very culturally subjective.

Being "somewhat" German, I have always held that being late to a meeting was as rude as suggested in this article. However, I also felt that a meeting that extended beyond the allotted time was even more disrespectful and it potentially meant everyone would be late for their next appointment. I held no qualms about up and leaving (current context be damned) in order to make my next appointment on-time.

A few years back though, a colleague from South America told me that in their culture the exact opposite is true.

If you were to leave an ongoing meeting that was being productive just because time was up then you were being very rude to the others whose productivity would would disrupt. Everyone understood that it was more important to continue a productive meeting than to be on-time for a meeting that had not even started. Even those in the next meeting would understand and take no slight.

I still feel that one should be on-time (5 minutes before in fact) but I have also come to expect that there are other perspectives. At a 10km level, it actually seems clear to me that a productive meeting should have priority and continue at the expense of one that had not started.

I schedule meetings to start at least 5 minutes after the hour or half hour and end 5 minutes before the hour or half hour. If everyone schedules meetings on the hour, and people have back to back meetings, then you can't expect them to be 5 minutes early or on time, especially if they have a distance to walk and/or need to use the restroom or grab more coffee.

I think for a lot of people 5 minutes can be a lot of time.

No, you are not punctual and respectful.

You are the result of the de-humanizing alienation of people's natural time and daily cycles, that went full strong in the 18th and 19th century to train factory workers and other replaceable cogs to work "on time", and metastasised to all aspects of modern life...

>And I don’t care if I sound old-fashioned, because actually it’s nothing to do with ‘fashion’ or ‘generation’. It’s got everything to do with basic good manners and respect for other people.

Actually it very has much to do with both fashion and generation. It's not some innate aspect of human society, it was introduced (read: forced upon people) with the advent of the personal watch, factory shifts, mechanized production, etc. In fact, even up to today, outside of urban communities, the sense of pressure to be "on time" is much less present, as is in general (even in urban ares) in many societies (think of the idea of the more laid-back Southerners for example).

As uberman above notes, "Etiquette surrounding meeting start and end times turns out to be are very culturally subjective.".

If anything, more of humanity (Asia, Africa, Latin America, Mediterranean, Middle East, etc) is less against being punctual than in favor of it. So you [well, people with the author's mindset] are also racist, imposing your provincial protestant values [whether yours or adopted from migrating to some such place] upon the whole world.

I agree with everything you said, up until you had to play the race card.

Someone expressing their cultural beliefs is not racist. Cultures can clash, we have differences, that in itself is not racist. This kind of discussion and disagreement is healthy, and again not racist.

We (humans) have more backbone than that. If anything this over sensitivity is also a 'western' product of the last 20 odd years or so.

> If anything, more of humanity (Asia, Africa, Latin America, Mediterranean, Middle East, etc) is less against being punctual than in favor of it.

[Citation Needed]

This wasn’t exactly the case in Japan and S. Korea in my experience.

Whether or not being late is a slight depends on the culture and the person, too.

They are probably the two most highly strung societies in Asia. Outside of those examples, particularly in the more equatorial tropical regions, punctuality gets a whole lot looser.

>This wasn’t exactly the case in Japan and S. Korea in my experience.

That's partly because Japan and South Korea were forcibly and heavily westernized and heavily stressed to achieve industrial success at all costs, after (different) traumatic war, occupation and colonization events. It's not however the typical characteristic of Asian culture (with spans 3 billion more people than South Korea/Japan), nor the traditional one...

See also "Karoshi" et al...

Japan was not colonized by the West. But it was itself a colonial power.

I didn't say it was. I said the two countries changed "after (different) traumatic war, occupation and colonization events".

Japan was traumatized by its encounter with westerners, by being forced to open its borders for commerce (through force), and later by WWII defeat and subsequent nuclear obliteration of two of its cities, and occupation and supervision by the allies (or, well, the GIs).\

For South Korea, ironically, it was Japan itself who at some point was the colonizer and occupation force...

Sounds like a nerve has been struck to be honest.

What's wrong with that? (This seems about as fallacious/irrelevant of a counterargument as "Quit being so emotional," "Are you triggered," etc.)

"You are rude and selfish" is a provocative title. (Some may even call it clickbait.) That someone is provoked by it doesn't mean that the article is correct, just that it's provocative. How do the actual arguments and counterarguments hold up against each other?

The op is invoking racism and colonialism because the article struck a nerve in the sense that they feel criticised that they aren't on time. Surely that's not an ideal argument.

That's what I meant.

The concept of punctuality in modern society (and how and why it was enforced, and where its culturally applicable and where not) is more broad that this or that individual being punctual or not.

It can grind one's gears (speaking of which, a classic example of critique against the mechanization of time in modern capitalism was "Modern Times" and its iconic clock scene) whether they are punctual or not. In this case, the absolute tone of TFA is what struck me.

Besides, the value of "struck a nerve" as an argument is close to zero. One could say just it as well against a doctor that rants against an anti-vaxing comment for example. Doesn't mean the doctor is wrong.

Yes, racist imposition of cultural norms to the world at large tends to strike some nerves...

If you want to coordinate 10 people being at the same place at it's racist to expect everyone to be on time?

Surely you see how that's a laughable argument.

Invoking racism on someone who disagrees with you isn’t usually a hallmark of the intellectually honest.

Strawman arguments aren't "usually a hallmark of the intellectually honest" either.

I didn't randomly invoke racism.

I made an argument which you omit here: that the concept of punctuality is cultural and relative, and that the author's blanket "You Are Rude and Selfish" is thus racist. The same exact accusation has been used historically to create the "lazy" / "laid-back" black, middle eastern, latino, african, etc stereotype...

Culture is not race. Imposing one's cultural norms on people of other cultures, while distasteful, is not racist, it is merely insensitive.

Feeling offended doesn't mean racism is afoot.

Despite your best intentions, I think you're being very narrow minded by focusing on largely irrelevant (in this context) history and culture. The author of this article is right to point out that you're wasting everyone's time by not showing up on time, not due to an emergency, but due to your own laziness.

I guess you never meet for work...

As someone who is part of something like 20 meetings or more every week - my role is very meeting-centric - I'll only say two things.

1) I find it extremely annoying to receive a message 30 seconds after the start of a meeting asking if I can join. Don't do this. Someone might literally be taking their only bathroom or snack break or stretch between 5 hours in a row of meetings.

2) If the rudest thing you can do is waste someone's time, then poorly run meetings trump minor meeting delays by a ratio of about 99:1.

This!! Meeting agendas beforehand and recap of what was decided at the end please!

> And certainly I consider serial lateness a character flaw which I take into account when working out who to promote, who to hire and who to count amongst my real friends.

So, it's about 9 years since this article has published. What has this attitude done for Greg? Has it found him more conscientious employees and more caring friends? Has he, a recruiter, been able to work with top candidates?

I think the question of the appropriateness of running late is an empirical question, not just one of loud opinions or appeals (or non-appeals) to fashion. Does the employee who shows up at 3:10 to coffee actually lose out on things compared to the one who shows up at 2:58 (and therefore does not schedule a 2:00 meeting)? Does the dentist who books fewer customers to be always on time make more money? (Actually, does Greg's dentist treat every customer with the sort of respect he wants - or only him?) Do the party-goers who show up to a 7:30 party at 7:30 instead of 9 have more fun?

IMHO more importantly is letting the others know that you're running late and why. Are you 20 minutes late? Fine, the I can keep coding for another 20 minutes. Same with my dentist, since the article brings it up, which informs me ahead that my appointment will be delayed by X minutes because of an emergency or similar. No problem, I won't leave work until I need to then.

That said, if someone is running late without explanation, like that guy with the sandwich, why didn't they just start the meeting? Was he really that vitally important?

I like it when they just lock the door to meeting room when to meeting starts.

I'm sorry I gave this entitled drivel the benefit of a click. It's just a rant about how much more important his time is than everyone else's (flouncing on a dentist's office running behind and then crediting it with never having to wait again? wow. just wow).

It's almost as if we live in a world where communication of boundaries, needs, timestyles, norms and constraints is important and even necessary to working with other people.

It might even yield better results than just using it as just another excuse to treat people with similar approaches, constraints (or lack thereof), and abilities to you better than those who don't.

It is a rant, yes, but you should value your time. It's probably the most important thing you have, in my opinion.

You don't need to force consistently late people to be on time. That's not your business.

But you don't have to associate with them.

Actually you have to, because it's your job most of the time.

What you're doing wrong then is scheduling the meeting poorly, without asking the others, which is your problem. It's typical of boss command structure. Expect problems.

Literally the worst thing is people all being forced to work 9 to 5. It's a compounding commute and scheduling disaster. Next to that, planning a meeting near those start or end hours.

I think maybe we are talking about different things. Yes I agree you should try to set expectations and figure out the discrepancies or if you are wrong. Also, you shouldn't schedule meetings at those times (I just had a manager schedule a reoccurring meeting for 5-6? Really??)

There are two ways to look at it: That person is being rude and selfish, behaving that way. I don't know why that person is behaving that way, but I'll keep an open mind!

I agree with most of what this author said, but I definitely do not agree when it comes to parties.

Wasting people's time by not showing up to meetings within a few minutes of the appointed time, especially, is such a selfish thing to do. I think it's so important to be flexible and understanding of people, but it sounds like this guy is working with people who casually show up 15-30 minutes late without remorse. That's horrible.

Depends on how the meeting is scheduled. There are a few times where it's near impossible to get everyone on time no matter what you do: on start of work day or before, right after dinner break.

It's sometimes a signal the meeting is perceived to be of low value.

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