I did some research to write this post, because I didn’t want it to just be an opinion piece.

BOY was I surprised by what I found.

In one study by Steve Rogelberg and colleagues (published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology) it was reported that nearly 37% of meetings start late. About 70% of study participants reported being late to meetings, with an average meeting tardiness rate of 5%.

Google came up with more than 299,000,000 results on the topic of “why people are late to meetings” – and most of what I read talked about how rude it is to arrive late to a scheduled meeting.

The bad habit that’s killing your professional reputation…

No, you’re not “running late,” you’re being rude…

Why you should never be late again…

Being late shows lack of integrity…

It seems people have very strong opinions about this subject!

As well they should.

I’m noticing this issue is becoming more and more frequent. Whether the meeting is in person, over the phone, or via video conference – it’s important to be on time, yet people are late all the time.

The Professional Consequences of Being Late to Meetings

One thing I noticed when I was reading through those Google search results was that people often take it personally when someone is late to a meeting with them. They view tardiness as a purposeful insult – a jab at their character.

Clearly many of those posts were written in the heat of the moment, after the writer was “jilted” at a meeting.

I personally think that being late to a meeting could mean many different things about a person:

  1. They can’t manage their time properly. Maybe they need some time management training.
  2. They have the ability to manage their time, but they choose not to do it. You’re not important to them, so if they choose to manage their time in a way that makes them late to a meeting with you, they don’t care if they offend you.
  3. They honestly believe that saying “I’m sorry” negates the effect of any bad behaviour.
  4. They truly don’t respect anyone’s time but their own.

One thing I don’t believe is that that being late to a meeting is a purposeful insult. That doesn’t mean that you should sit back and accept the rude behaviour, though.

Time is money.

Every minute lost waiting for someone to arrive to a meeting, the waiting party is losing money.


From a Stun perspective, our clients get billed when the work is done, so we value the timely delivery of projects. We do the work on or before the agreed deadline.

If a client meeting is delayed or altogether missed, our own production deadlines are compromised.

This not only impacts our ability to deliver on time, but it can also impact the quality of our work. We’re not willing to compromise on either of those things, so I have set strict guidelines around meetings.

  1. We have a 15-minute tolerance for phone or online meetings. If a client isn’t there to meet us in person after 15 minutes, we leave.
  2. If I get a text or email that acknowledges the lateness, I’ll extend the tolerance range to 20 minutes.
  3. After that, the meeting is off. I will leave the rescheduling to the client – but the rescheduled meeting must be a time that works for my team.

This is not an attempt to be churlish or vengeful. This ensures my team is respected and empowered to do their best work.

These guidelines also ensure we don’t take on a client that isn’t a good fit for our company culture. This saves everyone a lot of frustration and wasted time.

Are You Chronically Late? Shift Your Mindset

Psychologists believe that often when people are late to meetings, it’s because they don’t want to be early.

  • Arriving early feels like a waste of time, because you’re sitting there with nothing to do.
  • It’s awkward and uncomfortable to arrive early.
  • You’re trying to be polite and not interrupt the person by getting there too soon.

If any of those points resonate with you, you might need a mindset shift.

First, recognise that being early is more valuable than being late to the person you’re going to meet.

Second, view being early as an opportunity. Getting there a little early can give you time to interact informally and gauge the personalities (and moods) in the room.

Third, a little planning on your part will make a BIG impact on your relationships. Leave the right buffer between meetings, and start every meeting by telling the group what time you need to be finished by.

For Better Working Relationships, Be on Time

If you’re the chronically late type, it’s time to shift your mindset. Be on time to meetings and you can expect a better working relationship with anyone – customer, vendor, family or friend.

And if you’re the one who’s constantly stood up, don’t be afraid to set your own guidelines about how long you’ll wait and what the consequences of a missed meeting will be. You’re not being rude by setting boundaries – you’re ensuring a more respectful business engagement.