This is going to be the first article in a brand new category called "Social Skills" added to my seemingly-random category list. This series is especially for you pick up people out there. In my time teaching, I always had a good feeling for who would be successful and who would not be, way before we ever went out.
The reason was that some people had blatantly bad social skills. Face it - if you can't interact with GUYS properly, you're starting with girls with a major handicap. So here we're going to talk about everything from e-mail to gift giving. What's first on our radar? Being late. Read on...
Some people are notoriously late for everything. I used to be one of those people myself. But over time it annoyed me when people were late so much that I put in the work and changed that habit. That's not to say that I'm ALWAYS on time. Sometimes it's better to be a little late, and sometimes there are unforseen circumstances. But make no mistake - everyone notices how timely everyone else is, and this can be used to your advantage. Here's a list of common situations, and how prompt to be for each.
- A Business Meeting (meeting with customers) - 5 minutes early : When meeting with potential clients, ALWAYS be there before they get there. Your business role is subservient to them, and that should be reflected in your promptness. You are there before they are, which indicates that you can be counted on.
- A Business Meeting (meeting with a partner) - On time / 5 minutes late : Meeting with a business partner, or potential partner, is a different story. If you have an established relationship be on time. There's no need to get there earlier, because you are equals. Arriving late in most cases is a display of disrespect, which can cause problems in the partnership. The only time I'd recommend being late is if you are going to be negotiating with your partner. A good 5 minute delay with no apology or explanation subtley conveys that you are the dominant partner, which sets you up to end up on top in negotiations. Ten minutes late would be pushing it, and any later is just disrespectful.
- Meeting with friends - On time : There's no need to get fancy with your friends. By showing respect to your friends, you will receive respect back as well. Show up on time so that your friends know they can count on you. There's nothing more annoying than 5 friends meeting at a restaurant and having two people wait for the others to trickle in. Being early is better than being late here, but simply being on time is good enough. If you have a reputation for being late amongst your friends, you WILL miss invitations to last minute gatherings and people will be talking about how late you are.
- Receiving a favor - 10 minutes early : I don't care how the person doing you a favor is related to you. Always be early. No one likes doing favors which aren't appreciated, but by being ready 10 minutes early, you show that you appreciate the favor so much that you are willing to inconvenience yourself to minimize the impact it has on your friend's schedule. This also applies to things like getting rides from your friends. Be ready 10 minutes early, just in case their watch is off, and maybe even wait outside if it's a particularly inconvenient time for them. Being late for a favor will surely result in resentment and fewer favors in the future.
- First date - 5-15 minutes late : I have the feeling some of the lady types and wussy men out there will object to this one - too bad. Showing up early to a first date is a terrible idea. It shows that you are too eager and are working too hard to impress your date. Being on time is fine, but it's not worth chancing that you will be interpreted as being early if her watch is off. A good 5-10 minute tardiness will convey exactly what you want. Busy, but not disrespectful. Happy to spend time with her, but not desperate for it. Being late also provides the added bonus of possibly making her wonder if she's going to be stood up. No one likes being stood up, so when you show up 10 minutes later, she will be relieved and already be glad to be going out with you. However, once you are dating regularly, just be on time or 5 minutes late. No need to overdo it.
- A Party - As late as you want* : It's true that you should arrive "fashionably late". When parties first start, they are boring and awkward. Why associate yourself with that? It's much better to be the guy (or lady) who comes a bit later right as things start to pick up. Your delay can vary based on the party length and it's constituents. A 2-3 hour barbecue with friends only calls for a 15 minute tardiness. An all night party with relative strangers could mean that you're 2 hours late. Don't worry to much about when you get there, just take your time and arrive in style. * The only time you should be early or on time at worst is when your friend is throwing the party. Help him get it started before all you other jerks arrive late.
- Going to a movie - 17 minutes late : This one is optional, but I personally like being 17 minutes late. On average a movie has 17 minutes of previews, which I personally hate watching. Once in a while you'll miss a few minutes of a movie, but who cares? Most movies are awful anyway, and by the end you will forget that you missed the beginning.
- Hanging out with Tynan - 5 minutes early : Hey! I taught you all this stuff... don't make ME wait!
There you have it - a complete guide to promptness and lack thereof. When in doubt, though, just be on time. If you are chronically late, you will almost certainly be less respected by those around you, so this is an important change to make. If you have that problem, then start off by leaving 15 minutes early for everything and being early for everything. Once you get a handle on that, you can start getting fancy by following my guidelines above.