“I was late for the online meeting because my laptop froze up when I hit my desk and my fingers were too cold to make the phone work.” Well, Friday was April Fool’s day, but this was not a joke.
I had a 5:30 am online meeting. I set two alarms set to make sure I didn’t oversleep. I jumped up at the first alarm and dashed through the house, made the bed, ate breakfast, got dressed and did a couple of handstands before going into my home office at 5:20. Seated at my desk, feeling energized and ready to go, I slapped my hands on my desk and exclaimed “let’s get this party started.” Alas, my persnickety Toshiba exceptionally sensitive to the slightest movement went into apocalyptic shock. The screen flickered black a couple of times and then froze. Oh no. Nine minutes before start time. If I start the reboot with encryption, vpn and network set up, I have just enough time to make the online meeting in time. Four minutes into the reboot, the Toshiba froze again. Apparently the Toshiba is not a morning person. It’s mathematically impossible for me to be on time with the Toshiba, but I have backup.
My work issued Samsung Galaxy has an online meeting app. Before I could break into my happy dance, to my dismay, I discovered my fingertips were cold. My fingertips were so cold the phone could not register my touch. It is 5:30 and I got nothing. I continue to frantically punch away at the Galaxy with colorful language. By 5:40, the Toshiba is finally up and I am able to join the meeting ten minutes. I apologize for being late and leave it at that. What am I going to say?
“I was late for the meeting because my laptop froze up when I hit my desk and my fingers were too cold to make the phone work.”
I don’t think so; I hate being late. I was there and I still don’t believe it. The dog locked me out of my office and ate the key sounds more credible.
I didn’t want to be one of “those” people. You know, those people always have something to go wrong. They are ones who exclaim the password doesn’t work, they didn’t get the email, and the application would not work for them. Rather than be one of “those” I just eased on in and apologized for being late. An earthquake is reason for being late; a system wide failure is a reason for being unable to complete an assignment. Your local Starbucks having intermittent connectivity issues is not justification for being late or not getting something done. How do you know if you are one of “those” people? Be harsh with yourself, are you one of those people where it seems something is always happening. Stop giving excuses and just own it. Next, consider how people respond:
- If you are late and someone says, I wondered what happened, that is so unlike you. You are not one of “those” people
- Your assignment goes awry and someone comments, no problem, that’s not like you. You are not one of “those” people
- If you get a sure, ok fine, it may be an indication that this is usual mode of operation and you might want to consider your behavior.
For the record, when I apologized for being late, I got an OK fine. I’m new to this job and this tells me, I have some work to do. I want to get an “it is so unlike you; I was worried something has happened for a moment.” I want to be known for good work and dependability. I did not take this episode lightly. Apparently, there is “glove mode” for the galaxy that will take care of my cold fingertips in the morning. Between glove mode and allowing 20 minutes instead of 10 minutes I’m ready for the next online meeting, no fooling.
During a recent conversation with a friend she mentioned that “you are always late”! After my 360* Linda Blair head turnaround, I commented, “Actually, I’m not ALWAYS late”! She shared that that was her perception after I shared that it had been my experience that she was often late! I acquiescenced, as I realized that as a recently downsized high ranking executive boss, she was accustomed to subordinates waiting on her, but had zero tolerance when she was made to wait! (I’ve never worked for her😄).
I value our relationship and shared that I enjoyed her company no matter what and she shared that she would work on her timeliness. The point here….I’m confident that for her and I bet most of us , OUR time challenges are always justifiable and in our minds are very unavoidable. However, most times it depends on the view from which you look at the time challenge, the amount of information that you use to form your judgement and the amount of power you weil either formally or informally to make someone feel bad for doing life! Although I agree with parts of your summation, and we should strive to be on time, respect other people’s time etc., there are times when Sh– happens! When it does, I would argue that, “those people” are harshly labeled by people who are “those people”. When, as you describe in your meeting challenge, you built in contengcy, Sh–happened! Perhaps in this technology driven, face paced, quick to judge society where we all strive to get more done in less time, we should hit pause and give the benefit of the doubt and ask ourselves “what’s the compassionate response? ‘Cause sometimes Sh– does happen!
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I was “that” person in my 20s. It never bothered me to be late. It really shows disrespect for others. Now in my 40s, I find it upsets me to be “that” person.
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Its slightly frustration when you are normally on the top of your game and these things happen; but you learn and you become better. Because I am currently in HR I sometimes want to strangle myself and anyone who is late but I have to remember “no matter how good you are, these things happen tae learn and move on”.
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