Okay, I apologize. I AM late with this week’s blog. Stuff happens, life gets in the way, the unexpected pops up at an inconvenient time. Sound familiar?
I had an interesting conversation with a Human Resource Director this evening at a professional event (yes, I’m networking again) about – what else – TIME. She was relating how her organization held a training session in Miami for teams from Great Britain, the United States, and Latin America. The Brits and the Yanks were at the session, ready to go, 15 minutes before the scheduled start and the LatAms started showing up about 45 minutes late.
Our concepts of time are social constructs. Different cultures have different perspectives of time and those perspectives reflect what a particular society values. With increasing globalization, I think it’s time to look at time.
Many Latin, Middle Eastern, and African countries have a very flexible concept of time. Maintaining relationships and socializing are considered more important than accomplishing tasks. In Brazil, being late is a sign of success. In many of these countries, living by the clock is totally foreign.
Contrast that with the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Switzerland. Our focus is on accomplishment. We see time as a valuable commodity. There is a finite amount of it. Think about the way we talk about “using” time: we spend it; we save it; we waste it; we don’t have enough of it; we fritter it away.
I think we all know people who are consistently late. I dated a guy for almost a year who was almost never on time. Our reactions to them can range from mild annoyance to frustration to outright rage. How we respond depends on what their relation to us is (boss, employee, significant other) and what the situation is (meeting, starting work, our wedding, their funeral).
The critical thing to understand is what message being late conveys to others in our culture. In America, here’s what you’re telling us without saying a word when you’re late:
- I’m better than you.
- I’m more important than you.
- I’m of higher status than you.
- I’m selfish.
- I want to be in control.
- I crave attention.
I’m not talking about being late occasionally – that happens to everyone. I’m talking about being late most of the time.
Do you really want to send the messages listed above?
If so, throw away your watch because the rest of us think it’s ridiculous that you wear one anyway.
If not, get crackin’ on better planning now! Tick, tock – time’s a’wastin.