As we said when I was in the USAF: if you’re not 15 minutes early you are late. I live by that. I don’t expect a full 15 minutes early from you but if it’s 10:05 for a 10:00 meeting you can expect I will be texting or calling you asking whether there’s been a problem—and we will not have gotten off to a good start.
Leave earlier. Don’t overbook your time. Tell your current meeting sorry but time’s up, you have elsewhere to be, and you can talk later about a followup to finish things. You are “not all that” where you can justify keeping people waiting and if you can’t manage your time well enough to be prompt in all things your skills in that area need work—see “don’t overbook your time.” Realize there are often traffic delays and allow for that—see “leave earlier.”
If you wind up early to your next meeting and sitting in your car (or in a chair) for five or ten minutes (or even longer) beforehand then you’re getting it right. Congratulate yourself on your excellent timing and use that period to get your thoughts and materials settled. If the meeting is worth having it is also worth that much of your time to make sure you arrive prepared and don’t hold others up; conversely, if it isn’t important enough to merit that extra bit of your time then you need to question why you are having it.
Whatever befalls, don’t be late—except on some singularly rare occasion when something unusual happened out of your control that will never occur again. In that case make certain you notify the others in timely fashion and make it clear you completely own the fact this was a problem and not the norm. Once things settle out take whatever steps are necessary to insure that “never occur again” requirement.
Don’t operate as though routine tardiness—even being slightly late—is acceptable. Not if you want to do business. It sends a terrible message and does your credibility considerable harm.
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