by Alice Alessandri and Alberto Aleo There are just a few days to Christmas, a festival when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, but more universally, this is a moment when we take stock of the year and our relationships and take time to reflect. Tradition has it that the custom of exchanging gifts goes back…
While walking in the streets of Milan we came across an advertising poster of a well-known tailoring company, which said “A gentleman knows the value of time”. This expression made us think about an important issue: the value of punctuality. This healthy but often neglected habit, which Calvino described as necessary to social order, not only has the power of making our days more productive, but it can also add respect and elegance to our relationships. Here are some tips to learn how to be punctual and some of the resulting advantages.
The elegance of time
Sean Connery, undisputed icon of charm, often says “I’m always punctual. If I’m late it’s because I’m dead”.
Elegance and time are linked by the thread of respect: our time is our life, the most valuable asset we have.
Wasting someone else’s time, leaving them waiting because we are late, is one of the greatest offences we can commit against other human beings. Being punctual requires the ability to listen to those around us and respect their needs, showing attention and care and generating natural empathy and trust. There is no worse way to start a relationship than by arriving late at a meeting: that’s why our advice on how to “break the ice” at the first meeting is to be precise, elegant and punctual.
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The correct use of time is a typical habit of Anglo-Saxon cultures; we Italians instead tend to leave some “margins of flexibility” on this topic. However let’s remember that we have excelled every time we have been able to integrate our natural interpersonal skills with other people’s cultures, therefore don’t hesitate to add the “bad habit” of punctuality to your unmistakable Latin charm.
Training ground for efficiency: why we need punctuality
You have probably noticed lately that we are insisting a lot on the concept of good time management, which we discussed also in the article dedicated to time management, recently translated into English. There is a reason:
Time is linked to process efficiency, quality of relationships and, ultimately, most of business success.
It is such an important element of management that when we in Passodue go into a company we immediately verify its “culture of time”, i.e. the consolidated habits adoped on this topic. Respect of the timetables, planning, duration of meetings, precision, organisation and… punctuality, say a lot about a team’s quality and weaknesses.
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Punctuality, in particular, is a training ground which imposes a number of good habits such as:
- the widespread use of fundamental tools like clocks and agendas
- the ability to plan and manage emergencies
- the definition of clear objectives and of operational hierarchies
- attention to detail and awareness of the duration of single activities
- transparent and shared workflow planning
- organization and coordination at all levels
A simple habit which provides so many positive aspects.
Tips for being punctual
There are no valid reasons for being “regularly late”, although people who have this chronic habit are usually very creative and always invent new excuses.
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Coping with interruptions, dealing with emergencies and having only “a few” hours a day: it is not just a peculiarity of those who accumulate delays on all fronts, it also concerns those who are usually precise and punctual.
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Therefore the only difference is the ability to get organised respecting ourselves and the others! What we need to change is not only the external conditions but also our reactions to them. Here are a few tips to start practising punctuality:
- be clear and careful with dates and times, avoiding expressions like “I’ll do it as soon as possible”, “I need it for yesterday”, “it will only take a second” etc..
- talk about emergencies only if that’s what they really are, i.e. when something connected to a vital objective really risks being out of time
- include shrinkage in the time allocation of single activities, in order to make up for any setbacks
- promote the use of clocks and shared agendas, trying to always be aware of the time used to accomplish each task
- if necessary learn to say no; it’s better not to create false expectations and risk disappointing someone at a later time
- contain and educate the so-called “time thieves” i.e. all those people who have an anarchistic view of this important aspect of life.
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To check your relationship with time you can download a dedicated test in the premium content area of My Passodue.
We have been dealing with ethics in business and relationships for a long time now, and this is why we consider punctuality as a practical demonstration of the value we give to other people, whoever they may be. If your waiting room is full of waiting suppliers while you boast of being very punctual with your clients, if the time needed to answer an e-mail depends on the importance of the sender, if you think expressions like “a real boss keeps you waiting” make sense, then take a moment to consider which values you want to promote and what kind of exchanges you intend to create with the rest of the world – bearing in mind that the principles of the law of reciprocity are valid also when it comes to punctuality, elegance and respect: if you want something, you first have to give something to others.
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