People who are always late share these 5 personality traits

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I’ll be straight with you, lateness is my ultimate pet peeve. 

And this is coming from someone who lives in a big city, where there are limitless distractions and obstacles to being on time. 

Sure, you can get away with being late once or twice. 

But once you’re tardy enough times, we shouldn’t just dismiss this pattern as bad luck or a harmless personality quirk. 

When it comes to late people, in my book, they usually share these five traits. 

Let’s get to it! 

1) Toxic optimism

Too much of a good thing can very well be a bad thing. 

Yes, generally speaking, optimism is a great quality in anyone.

But left unchecked, excess optimism can lead to things like false hope and even relationship fallouts. 

People who are constantly late might be overly optimistic that everything will work out in the end–even when historically that’s not always the case. 

A real-life scenario of the toxic optimist might go something like this: agree to dinner at 7 pm, despite having a meeting at 5, and coffee with a friend at 6. 

They believe with the utmost confidence that they’ll be punctual for all three meetings–not taking into account rush hour traffic or other unforeseen circumstances. 

They may make it on time to one or two of these events but, regardless, they’re bound to disenchant someone at some point. 

Instead of being realistic about time, their glass remains half full, an outlook that can frustrate those around them. 

2) The tendency to procrastinate 

Procrastination can be debilitating. 

I know some serial procrastinators–and while I can empathize with them, that still doesn’t give them a pass to be periodically late

My ex had a serious procrastination issue

She’d be too preoccupied with social media to get moving in a timely fashion. 

I’ve always been a proponent of the “it’s better to be early than late” mentality. 

Think about it, when you’re early, you don’t have to stress out, you don’t have to rush, you can relax. 

My ex didn’t share the same sentiments. 

She’d be scrolling through her feed until the absolute last minute, despite my pleas to get moving. 

Eventually, she’d scramble to get ready, frantic as she would decide what outfit to wear or find the earring that suddenly went missing. 

The pressure was self-induced, and by default, she’d take it out on me. 

She would get ready in such a flurry that when we finally got to leave, she’d realize she had forgotten something important at home, like a wallet or phone. 

And when we would arrive at the venue thirty minutes late, we’d have to apologize to bothered guests, often having to cite a “last-minute emergency” as the culprit for our delay. 

Pretty tedious, I know. 

3) Susceptibility to distractions

Sometimes, we get so caught up and distracted with life that we lose our sense of time. 

This is human. But when getting sidetracked becomes a habit, it can become concerning. 

Maybe you have the habit of getting so engrossed in a Netflix series, that you tell yourself “One more episode, then I’ll start getting ready”, but wind up overlooking responsibilities. 

Or maybe you tend to get so immersed in work that before you know it, you look at your watch and your meeting across town starts in five minutes.

The other day, I ran into a college friend on the street and we ended up just chatting and catching up for nearly half an hour. 

I got so lost in the discussion that I neglected that I had a dentist appointment–which I ended up having to reschedule with an understandably displeased receptionist.  

And their next availability? 

Two weeks–which meant two more excruciating weeks of a sore molar. 

I had nobody to blame but myself, and my susceptibility to distractions. Karma, I guess you could call it. 

4) Having a difficult time saying no 

It’s not always easy to say no. 

This is especially true for people pleasers.

When people put us on the spot, their pleas for our attendance are met with minimal resistance. 

I’ve been there many times. 

I don’t want to upset anyone, and end up overextending or overcommitting myself, which leads to a jampacked schedule and invariably, a lack of punctuality. 

While people-pleasers want to keep everyone happy by being agreeable, when they’re late enough times, their efforts will backfire. 

They’ll end up pissing off far more people, with far more intensity, than if they had just said “no”.

So next time someone invites you to an event, consider any prior obligations first, before committing to an answer. 

In other words, learn to start putting that foot down!

5) Lacking consideration for others 

Let’s not beat around the bush. 

We can give “late” people all the excuses in the world, but when it comes down to it, frequent lateness comes down to an inherent lack of consideration for others. 

If other people can make it on time, then, in theory, so can you.

Maybe you claim you were stuck in traffic, which might even be the truth. 

The thing is, the other people in attendance would have had to deal with traffic as well–unless they flew a chopper or one of those flying cars from the Jetsons (unlikely.) 

My cousin has always had a problem with being late. Let’s call him Miguel. 

For years, Miguel would arrive at family dinners, dim sum lunches, movie dates, you name it,  a minimum of half an hour late. 

It would annoy me, but for the most part, I let it go. 

This spirit of tolerance wouldn’t last. 

I got passes to a movie premiere a couple of months ago and decided to invite him. 

During the days leading up to the screening, I kept reminding Miguel to be on time, that showtime was at rush hour, and therefore the traffic and parking situation would be less than ideal. 

Yet despite my efforts, I found myself waiting outside the cinema for him, our tickets in hand, impatiently contemplating if he was going to stand me up. 

He was a total of forty minutes late. 

Not only did we miss the trailers, but we also missed the first fifteen minutes of Oppenheimer (I had to Google the synopsis mid-film to catch up.) 

I was fuming and told Miguel that unless he shaped up, my invitations would cease. 

I did offer some advice: when agreeing to meet someone, just leave thirty minutes earlier than he normally would; or during peak hours, an hour before. 

Sure enough, ever since that fateful day at the pictures, he’s been on time, even early, for our get-togethers.

Whether this newfound punctuality is sustainable for him is yet to be determined. 

Fingers crossed. 

Final words

Being on time isn’t difficult once you get into the habit of it. 

Now that you’re more aware of the root causes, you’re in a better position to make the necessary adjustments.

And once you make the shift, when you start prioritizing the value of being on time, you can fully expect your interactions and relationships to improve. 

I assure you, it’s not that complicated. All it takes is a bit more effort. 

Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Hack Spirit! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

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