How To Deal With Someone Who Is Always Late: 15 Tips

This new article will show you everything you need to know about how to deal with someone who is always late.

Dealing with a consistently tardy individual can be quite frustrating, especially when that person happens to be a friend, family member, or an employee. It’s only natural to expect others to be as punctual as you are, but resorting to anger or passive-aggressive behavior won’t resolve the issue. Instead, you can address the problem of lateness by engaging in open and honest conversations, establishing clear boundaries, and managing your own time effectively.

How To Deal With Someone Who Is Always Late:

1. Plan independently of their punctuality.

For instance, if you’re hosting a birthday party, don’t rely on them to bring the cake. If you need a ride somewhere, consider asking someone else who is more punctual for assistance.

2. Adjust the scheduled time.

If you know they tend to be consistently late, consider informing them to arrive at an earlier time. For instance, if you want them at an event by 6 PM, instruct them to be there at 4 PM.

Keep in mind that if they do show up at 4 PM, they might be upset with you for the misleading instruction. If this happens, explain your reasoning behind the earlier time, emphasizing the importance of timeliness for the event.

3. Offer assistance if needed.

If their tardiness is due to factors such as disability, age, or childcare responsibilities, it’s important not to penalize them. Instead, extend a helping hand by offering to assist them in arriving on time, like providing transportation or support if feasible.

4. Be flexible when appropriate.

In situations where punctuality isn’t critical, it may not matter if you’re a little late to a party or a beach outing. Choose your battles wisely and exercise flexibility when schedules permit it.

5. Make waiting time productive.

When you find yourself unavoidably waiting for someone, like your boss, utilize that time wisely to prevent unnecessary frustration. Consider engaging in tasks such as responding to emails, reading a book, or catching up on other work.

6. Seize the extra time for relaxation.

If you frequently find yourself waiting for your spouse as they get ready, and you’re not in a hurry, use this additional time to focus on self-care (1). Take the opportunity to watch a TV show you’ve fallen behind on, peruse a magazine, or call and catch up with a friend.

7. Have a private conversation.

If this person’s habitual lateness becomes a noticeable pattern, it’s worth addressing. While occasional tardiness can be forgiven, regular lateness warrants a conversation. Once you’ve identified a consistent issue with punctuality, take your employee or friend aside for a private chat the next time they are late, away from the presence of others.

8. Express your concerns openly.

Communicate how their habitual lateness affects you. Make it clear that your time is valuable, and yet you often find yourself waiting for them. Inquire whether they can commit to being punctual in the future or at least informing you well in advance if they expect to be late.

For example, you can say, “When you’re consistently late for our plans, it’s quite frustrating for me. Whether we’re going to the movies or a show, we often miss a significant part of the experience, and that’s not fair. Can we work together on being more punctual in the future?”

9. Be attentive and make allowances when necessary.

During this conversation, offer your full attention. Put away distractions like your phone or computer. It’s possible that your employee or friend is dealing with personal difficulties that affect their sleep and prompt their lateness.

When needed, consider establishing a temporary schedule adjustment to accommodate their situation if they are your employee. For instance, you might allow them to start later and extend their work hours. Set a two-week limit on this modified schedule to prevent potential jealousy among other employees.

10. Set a time limit for waiting.

In the past, you may have waited excessively – perhaps an hour or more – for this person to meet you. Make it clear that, moving forward, you will wait no longer than thirty minutes for them. Stick to this rule and, if necessary, head home or invite someone else if you have tickets to an event.

11. Lead by example in punctuality.

If you aim to encourage your employees or friends to be punctual, ensure that you consistently arrive on time or, when possible, even a few minutes early. Consistently being late yourself can make it harder for others to prioritize punctuality.

12. Impose consequences.

If this individual continues to be consistently late without a valid reason, it may be necessary to establish consequences. For employees, consider issuing written warnings when they are late, making it clear that accumulating more than three warnings could result in termination. With friends, you might opt not to accompany them to time-sensitive events like concerts or movies.

13. Explore alternative strategies.

Engaging in direct conversations and setting boundaries with consequences may not work for everyone. Consider the following alternative approaches:

  • Provide your friend with a unique invitation specifying an earlier start time than the rest of the guests, granting them a 15 to 30-minute head start for a party.
  • Limit your invitations to your friend for events where punctuality isn’t a critical factor.
  • Adopt a more passive approach, allowing your friend to face the natural consequences of their lateness. For example, if they arrive late to a dinner party and everyone is already seated and eating, they may feel naturally embarrassed.

14. Acknowledge and appreciate punctuality.

When the person begins to heed your constructive feedback and shows up on time, express your gratitude. Let them know that you’ve noticed and appreciate their punctuality.

15. Create distance if necessary.

If this individual consistently misses significant milestones in your life, it may prompt you to question the nature of your friendship. If they are late for major events like your wedding, graduation, or your children’s important occasions, it might be an indication that this person isn’t a reliable friend.

You don’t necessarily need to sever the friendship completely, but consider spending less time together and sharing fewer personal details with them. If the person is your employee, it may be time to consider termination if their lateness significantly affects their job performance.

Dealing with consistently late individuals, whether they are friends, family members, or employees, requires a thoughtful approach to maintain relationships and punctuality. Here’s a summary of effective strategies:

  1. Plan Independently: When possible, make plans that don’t depend on the late person to prevent frustration.
  2. Adjust Schedules: If they’re often late, inform them of an earlier time to encourage punctuality, but be honest about your reasons.
  3. Offer Assistance: Be understanding if their lateness is due to legitimate reasons like a disability or family responsibilities, and help them if possible.
  4. Be Flexible: In situations where strict punctuality is not crucial, consider being more relaxed about schedules.
  5. Use Waiting Time Productively: Use the time while waiting for them to be productive, such as responding to emails or reading a book.
  6. Seize Extra Time for Yourself: If you have time to spare while waiting for someone, take the opportunity to relax and enjoy your own activities.
  7. Private Conversation: If lateness becomes a pattern, have a private, constructive conversation to address the issue.
  8. Express Concerns: Communicate how their lateness affects you, emphasizing the value of your time.
  9. Listen and Accommodate: Be attentive during conversations and make allowances when personal issues affect their punctuality, especially for employees.
  10. Set Time Limits: Establish clear limits on how long you’re willing to wait, and stick to them.
  11. Lead by Example: Model punctuality yourself to encourage others to be on time.
  12. Set Consequences: Implement consequences if they continue to be late without a valid reason, both in the workplace and with friends.
  13. Consider Alternative Approaches: Explore less direct methods, such as giving earlier start times or not inviting them to time-sensitive events.
  14. Show Appreciation: Acknowledge and appreciate their efforts when they are punctual after receiving feedback.
  15. Distance Yourself if Necessary: If they consistently miss important milestones in your life, consider creating some distance or, in the case of employees, taking more decisive action if lateness affects their performance.

Overall, dealing with chronically late individuals involves a combination of understanding, clear communication, and a range of strategies tailored to the specific circumstances and relationships involved.

I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about how to deal with someone who is always late. I sincerely hope its contents have been a good help to you.

Przemkas Mosky
Przemkas Mosky started Perfect 24 Hours in 2017. He is a Personal Productivity Specialist, blogger and entrepreneur. He also works as a coach assisting people to increase their motivation, social skills or leadership abilities. Read more here