Actions really do speak louder than words, especially when it comes to the choice of how we spend our time.
We have all been kept waiting at some time in our life. Depending on how we are feeling in that moment, we can either enjoy the time and space for a few moments and treat it as a break, or alternatively, we can take it personally, as if the person we are waiting for, is telling us that their time is more important than ours. But what if it continues on a frequent basis?
As we know, our actions speak louder than our words, whether we mean them to or not. For sake of context, I am not speaking about the occasional lateness or someone who is legitimately stuck in traffic, I am speaking about someone who is chronically late.
As someone who hates being late for anything, this habit of people not being on time both confuses and irritates me, even though I know better. What I mean by that is that in most cases, when someone has a habit of being late, I know it has nothing to do with me personally.
What I have learned however that is just as it affects me, it really does affect the person who is late. This isn’t a surprise to them either, they know they are walking into conversations already started, lessons already taught etc., They know people will be irritated and /or upset, but still their behavior doesn’t change. They walk into the room, feeling less than, anxious, on alert, ready with excuses & stories to make it someone else’s fault.
In my mind, this lateness issue can be due to four separate individual things:
- Being disorganized
- Trying to accomplish too much
- Not feeling like you have any value ie: don’t matter / won’t be missed
- They didn’t want to do it in the first place, but didn’t know how to say no
Each of these options have different responses & actions, for those who are waiting and those who are late. My experience has shown that open honest communication about how we truly feel about any obligations, appointments, dates or meetings, no matter how hard, is always better than the unconscious messages we give.
People find it easier to forgive our words than our actions on the basis that we gave them the respect to value their time by simply being clear on our own commitments, wants & needs.
Just a little something for thought the next time you consider being late, or find ourselves waiting for someone. What is really going on for us? What really happened? Maybe there is some space for self reflection, a different choice or a different response.