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Sticky Situation: Coping With a Friend Who Is Always Late

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Sticky situation:

I liked your last Sticky situation blog about how to cope with a late colleague. You had some good suggestions in there. I would not have thought of them.

Now, for the socially late: what can I do about my friend who always arrives late? She does not seem to understand the impact it has on the lives of others, most of all, me.

She has the usual excuses of traffic and the day getting away from her. The problem is that she truly believes that she has valid reasons to be late, every time.

She feels that it is quite normal and that we should all understand her reality, while graciously accepting the situation. She even manages to make me feel guilty of not being understanding...

Apart from stopping from seeing this person, what can I do to make her more punctual without losing her friendship? I do like her; she does have good sides to her!

Solution(s):

I am glad that you found some helpful information in my Huffington Post 'Sticky Situation' blog.

Not knowing what you have tried before, I propose a tiered approach to encourage meeting punctuality with your buddy.

1. Start by voicing your concern and stating the facts, just the facts please.

This is the direct approach and the one that I most recommend. Tell your friend that you feel disrespected by her lateness.

Keep an open mind. Inquire about the reason(s) for the lateness.

If your meetings are at a recurring time, ask her about scheduling at a later time, to account for traffic or tasks that may conflict with her departure time.

Realize that your friend's tardiness could also be based on a cultural difference. In this case, come to a mutual understanding of acceptable lateness.

If need be, refresh her memory of the last few times that you met and how delayed she was.

2. Give your friend, an earlier time than the actual meeting time of your get-together.

Many report ongoing success with this tactic. It puts you in control, as opposed to the lateness.

Beware. If you are not comfortable with the white lie of calculated delay, this tactic may create extra tension for you.

3. Inform her that you will not wait more than 10 or 15 minutes, past your agreed upon scheduled time. You decide, upfront and inform her.

This seems like the adult thing to do, when the time is up, call or text: "I'm leaving."

Interestingly, many report that they have a hard time staying true to their word. They end up waiting for as long as double the stated time. This is especially true in cases where they are in texting communication with the tardy.

If you choose to wait, do so knowingly and happily.

4. Don't take it personally and bring something to occupy your time, enjoy a daydream or call your mom to tell her how much you love her.

It is not you. It's her. If you know that your friend truly cares about you and your friendship, attribute this behaviour to just a flaky side effect of her great personality.

In the end, the choice is yours; you cannot change her. Adjust your expectations and enjoy your life.

Have a Sticky Situation yourself, write to julie@etiquettejulie.com and Julie will reply promptly. You can also ask your questions on her Facebook page. Planning a conference? Julie travels coast to coast to give bilingual interactive conferences.

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