Oscar Wilde once wrote that "punctuality is the thief of time." While you may have to sacrifice something in your life to make your appointments on time, being 10 minutes late for everything steals time from everyone else.
Consider the doctor's office for a moment. The first patient of the day is late, and although your appointment isn't until hours later, it's still your problem. That one person's delay can create a sweeping domino effect on all successive patients' schedules. That's the trouble with tardiness: It's intrusive, and it's rude.
Being late not only wastes everyone's time, it implies your time is more important than that of those waiting for you — whether that's the truth or not. The offending lateness could also be perceived as a calculated way of getting the upper hand or control of a situation.
Being late, for some people, though, is far from deliberate, although it's still aggravating to those who equate punctuality with good character. People who are chronically tardy often share other personality traits, including tendencies to be anxious or easily distracted. And sleep psychologists have discovered that people who are night owls tend to be less punctual than those who are early birds [source: Werner]. In fact, many of us are late because we suffer from something called the planning fallacy. That just means we're all ridiculously bad at judging how long it will take us to complete our daily to-do list. Just how bad? On average, we underestimate the duration of and effort needed for a task by 40 percent [source: MacDonald]. So try to be honest with your time, and make an effort to be punctual — it keeps the world running on time.
Author's Note: 5 Ways Etiquette Makes Life Easier
Emily Post is said to have described good manners as nothing more than being aware and sensitive to other people. That's succinct and easy, but really, reading all these studies about social graces suggests good etiquette is more about knowing which fork to use, while good manners is being aware of and showing respect for others. Having both good manners and etiquette makes you extremely polite. Now that's settled.
More Great Links
- Asghar, Rob. "27 Etiquette Rules for Our Times." Forbes. April 22, 2014. (April 4, 2015) http://www.forbes.com/sites/robasghar/2014/04/22/27-etiquette-rules-for-our-times/
- Baer, Drake. "70 Percent of People Don't Know How To Give a Proper Handshake — Here's How." Business Insider. Dec. 25, 2014. (April 4, 2015) http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-give-a-proper-handshake-2014-12
- CBS News. "60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll: Etiquette." July 7, 2014. (April 4, 2015) http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-vanity-fair-poll-etiquette/
- Fiol, Taryn. "Headphone Etiquette ... for the Office, Sidewalk and Bus." Apartment Therapy. (April 4, 2015) http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/headphone-etiquette-for-the-of-129641
- Frumin, Idan et al. "A Social Chemosignaling Function for Human Handshaking." eLife. Vol. 4. March 3, 2015. (April 4, 2015) http://elifesciences.org/content/4/e05154
- Funeralwise. "Funeral Etiquette: What to Say & What to Do When Someone Dies." (April 4, 2015) https://www.funeralwise.com/etiquette/
- Janik, Rachel. "The Weird Reason Humans Shake Hands as a Greeting." Time. March 3, 2015. (April 4, 2015) http://time.com/3729900/weird-science-handshakes-smell/
- MacDonald, Fiona. "Scientists Have Found out Why You're Chronically Late." ScienceAlert. Feb. 6, 2015. (April 4, 2015) http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-have-identified-the-personality-type-that-makes-you-chronically-late
- Marshall, Lisa B. "How to Introduce Yourself." Quick & Dirty Tips. June 30, 2011. (April 4, 2015) http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/business-career/public-speaking/how-to-introduce-yourself
- McKay, Brett and Kate McKay. "A Man Is Punctual: The Reasons You're Late and How to Always Be on Time." The Art of Manliness. July 18, 2012. (April 4, 2015) http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/07/18/a-man-is-punctual-the-reasons-youre-late-and-how-to-always-be-on-time/
- Newman, Catherine. "Should I send thank-you notes for sympathy cards?" Real Simple. (April 4, 2015) http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/work-life-etiquette/manners/sympathy-thank-you-notes
- Post, Anna. "Anna Post on Managing Mobile Manners." The Emily Post Institute. (April 4, 2015) http://www.emilypost.com/communication-and-technology/telephone-and-cell-phone-manners/103-top-ten-cell-phone-manners
- Reader's Digest. "Manners and Etiquette: The Best Rules to Follow." December/January 2012. (April 4, 2015) http://www.rd.com/slideshows/manners-and-etiquette-the-best-rules-to-follow/
- Reddy, Sumathi. "We Know Why You're Always Late." The Wall Street Journal. Feb. 3, 2015. (April 4, 2015) http://www.wsj.com/articles/we-know-why-youre-always-late-1422900180
- Refinery29. "Always Late? How to Be On Time — For Real." Time. May 22, 2014. (April 4, 205) http://time.com/106815/stop-being-late/
- Sabath, Ann Marie. "Ten Etiquette Rules for Children." Oprah.com. Feb. 12, 2003. (April 4, 2015) http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Ten-Etiquette-Rules-for-Children
- Santamaria, Joseph P. and David A. Rosenbaum. "Etiquette and Effort: Holding Doors for Others." Psychological Science. Vol. 22, No. 5. Pages 584-588. May 2011. (April 4, 2015) http://pss.sagepub.com/content/22/5/584
- Shah, Yagana. "These 5 Bad Behaviors From The Past Are Now Totally Common." The Huffington Post. Jan. 26, 2015. (April 4, 2015) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/25/bad-behaviors-that-are-now-common_n_6487364.html
- Shapiro, Steve et al. "5 Shockingly Violent Back Stories of Everyday Traditions." Cracked. Sept. 9, 2013. (April 4, 2015) http://www.cracked.com/article_20594_5-shockingly-violent-back-stories-everyday-traditions.html
- The Emily Post Institute. "Cell Phones: Where It's OK to Answer, Where to Wait." (April 4, 2015) http://www.emilypost.com/communication-and-technology/telephone-and-cell-phone-manners/101-cell-phones-where-its-ok-to-answer-where-to-wait
- The Emily Post Institute. "Sympathy Notes and Letters." (April 4, 2015) http://www.emilypost.com/home-and-family-life/loss-grieving-and-condolences/1034-sympathy-notes-and-letters
- Werner, Laura et al. "Morningness as a Personality Predictor of Punctuality." Current Psychology. Vol. 34, No. 1. Pages 130-139. March 2015. (April 4, 2015) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12144-014-9246-1
Ever scratch your head when you're frustrated or thinking? HowStuffWorks found out how this tic became the signal for so many social expressions.