You have been on the end of someone being late for an appointment. It can be a frustrating situation. Why do we even care if others are late or make us wait? Simply put, making someone else wait shows lack of respect. Think about when others have made you wait. You feel like they don’t value your time, only their own. Doctors’ office visits are the most appalling examples of disregard for others’ time.

See if this sounds familiar to you. Years ago I had an appointment with a doctor for my annual physical exam. The appointment was set for 11:10 am. I thought that session time was overly precise but I was determined to be there on time. Then I was asked to arrive 15 minutes early to review insurance or lifestyle changes. I arrived 15 minutes early, 10:55 am. I signed in and waited, then waited some more. At 11:15, I returned to the front desk and asked if the forms were available for me to complete. 

The nurse looked at me as if I were asking her to wash my car. With a large amount of disdain, she flipped a clipboard to me and told me to fill out the attached form. I was back in about three minutes with the completed form. She looked it over and told me to wait for another nurse to call me back. And 45 minutes later a nurse called my name. I was escorted to a room, where I began another waiting game. The demoralizing thing was that she gave me a thin paper gown and told me to remove my clothing, put on the tissue-like clothing and wait for the doctor.

In case you haven’t had the pleasure of wearing paper, it is not overly warm nor is it in any way modest. After another hour of waiting I was ready to set the gown on fire to keep warm. But my patience was rewarded with the nurse returning to take my vitals. Surprisingly my blood pressure was high, it’s normally very — well, normal. She told me that I was suffering from “White Coat Syndrome.” She went on to tell me that people who were afraid of doctors often had elevated blood pressure. I must be one of those “fraidy cats.” By then it was after 1:00 pm. I assured her that the doctor should be afraid of me because I was going to send her a bill for the two hours I had to wait. I should have charged double for hazard pay because part of my wait was spent shivering in a paper gown. 

By the time the doctor arrived, I was worn out. The physical took about 12 minutes. I told her about the wait I had endured with the resulting elevation in my blood pressure. She was unsympathetic and told me that she needed to spend the appropriate amount of time with each patient. I asked her if I was the only person who had to wait. If I was, I completely understood. However, I asserted that all her patients that day had to wait. This waiting game revealed a complete lack of professionalism or regard for the patient.

So what does this have to do with you? If you are a doctor reading this, I suggest you plan on “an appropriate amount of time with each patient” when you schedule appointments and not make everyone wait. If you aren’t a doctor, you can impact your professionalism by being on time to your appointments and regarding your customers’ time as valuable as your own. We don’t like having to wait but it seems some people don’t worry about making others wait. Don’t be that person.

If you tell someone you will meet them at a certain time, you have essentially made them a promise. If you are late you have broken that promise. If you do not keep your word with something like time, can you be trusted with more important things? As a side note, no one has ever been reprimanded for being on time or early. Avoid the rush. Be on time.

If you realize you are going to be late, call the person immediately and let them know. Tell them when you expect to arrive. You don’t have to make excuses about why you are late. That just takes extra time. Ben Franklin said, “I have generally found that the man who is good at an excuse is good for nothing else.”

Being punctual also shows you are a reliable person. People trust and rely on those who manage their own time and respect that of others. However, if a person is careless about time, what else is that person careless about? Here are a few other characteristics of punctual persons: they are self-confident, at their best, honest (being late is a cousin of stealing), disciplined, humble and respectful of others.

If you are looking to simplify your life, cultivating punctuality is a key ingredient in your formula for success. That success doesn’t even require you to sit in a paper gown. 

About Douglas Fry 3 Articles
Douglas Fry is executive director of the Southeastern Advertising Publishers Association, the non-profit regional trade association which represents Free Circulation Publishers in 12 southeastern states. Fry can be reached at 931.223.5708 or by email at info@sapatoday.com.