Using Time as a Sign of Caring

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​Are you ever late? Or, likewise, have you ever been kept waiting by somebody else? Do you get irritated? Our promptness, or lack thereof, speaks volumes to the other people in our lives. When we are on time, it shows the person we are meeting that we care about them and they are a priority. Similarly, when we arrive late to a scheduled meeting – business or social – it communicates that this meeting is not a priority and we do not value the other person’s time. Although, it may be the furthest thing from the truth, tardiness communicates that we do not care. This week’s blog, “Using Time as a Sign of Caring”​, reminds us to plan ahead and make sure we running on time in order to prevent the damaging effects of chronic lateness.

Using Time as a Sign of Caring

by Dr. Tony Alessandra

S omeone who is frequently late sends the message that he or she does not care. That may not be true, but that is the message, and it may injure his or her chances for rapport. So, our accuracy with time often broadcasts a signal about our priorities, though it may not be the signal we intend.

Because time is viewed as such a scarce resource, whom we choose to spend it with is often taken as a signal of whom we care about. You can build more productive relationships by simply stating out loud why you spend your time as you do. Let us say you are a manager who absolutely must spend some time returning a series of important phone calls. You might tell your employees: “Hey, I am going to be out of pocket this morning on an important matter I cannot dodge. But I should be free by early afternoon, and the door to my office will be open, as usual. Thanks for understanding.” That way, those you usually talk to will not feel shunned.

Time also can be used to demonstrate how we feel about others in terms of their status and power. If the president of the company calls a junior manager to her office for a meeting, the manager will probably arrive before the appointed time. Because of the difference in status, most subordinates would probably feel that any inconvenience in waiting ought to be theirs. The president’s time is implicitly regarded as worth more and, therefore, is not to be wasted.

Nonetheless, the longer people are kept waiting, the worse they are likely to feel. Imagine a middle manager summoned to a meeting with the president at 1:00 p.m. She arrives at a respectful 12:50, and remains comfortable until 1:10, when she asks the secretary to remind the president that she is there. If the secretary checks and then conveys that the president will be right with her, the manager will probably remain comfortable until around 1:25.

By 1:45, however, she is likely to be quite angry and to assume that the president does not really care about seeing her. If the president then has the manager sent in and proceeds directly to the business at hand without offering an explanation, the manager will probably feel hurt. This may affect the meeting and the relationship negatively.

On the other hand, if the president apologizes and shares some inside information while explaining why he is running late, the manager is more apt to get over it because, after all, the boss’s time is very important.

Human beings like reasons for things. If you have a good reason for being late, you have a chance to do some damage control. A legitimate excuse and some reassurance can help the other person feel better. And the longer a person is kept waiting, the more reassurance is required to neutralize the irritation.


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Learn more about Dr Tony Alessandra

Dr. Tony Alessandra has a street-wise, college-smart perspective on business, having been raised in the housing projects of NYC to eventually realizing success as a graduate professor of marketing, internet entrepreneur, business author, and hall-of-fame keynote speaker. He earned a BBA from Notre Dame, a MBA from the Univ. of Connecticut and his PhD in marketing from Georgia State University (1976). Known as “Dr. Tony” he’s authored 30+ books and 100+ audio/video programs. He was inducted into the NSA Speakers Hall of Fame (1985) and Top Sales World’s Hall of Fame (2010). Meetings & Conventions Magazine has called him “one of America’s most electrifying speakers”.

Dr. Tony is also the Founder/CVO of Assessments 24×7. Assessments 24×7 is a global leader of online DISC assessments, delivered from easy-to-use online accounts popular with business coaches and Fortune 500 trainers around the world. Interested in learning more about these customized assessment accounts? Please contact us.

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