Why is punctuality important?

If you've worked in the western culture you know professionals tend to operate on a monochronic time philosophy, meaning the work day is dictated by the clock. Appointments are scheduled and are expected to take place on time. Generally, lateness is typically frowned down upon.
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Not all societies operate this way though, as some operate on polychronic time principles, which hold the philosophy that time is more liquid. In this school of thought, there is a high degree of flexibility where time is concerned.

How people perceive the clock

Due to monochronic values, punctuality in western culture is considered an important practice. Those who do not follow the art of punctuality are bound to start experiencing problems in their careers.

For instance, in the United States it is generally accepted that if an appointment is set for 10 a.m., the person who has the appointment is expected to show up at 10 a.m., or slightly before the appointment time. This holds true for doctor's appointments, interviews, conferences, or any kind of commitment. As a general rule of thumb, the time set is important to abide by. In fact, it is not uncommon for some to charge for lateness or reschedule the appointment because time is considered to be so valuable.

Lateness is often looked at as unprofessional

As a professional working in the U.S., it is important to be punctual. People who don't respect the clock are going to be perceived as unprofessional and, in some cases, incompetent. Lateness is typically not appreciated.

Being perpetually late is likely going to be viewed as a lack of respect. In a monochronic society, a person who demonstrates habitual lateness is often perceived as a person who doesn't respect the time of others. This is not usually received well.

In a culture where time is of the essence, ignoring the clock can lead someone astray in their career and really harm their professional reputation. In any work situation, it is important to put effort and attention into abiding by company philosophies when it comes to punctuality.

Other negative effects of lateness

A lack of punctuality is also often seen as an inability to practice good time management. This can give the impression that a person who can't make an appointment or meeting on time as incompetent. While it's true some people are habitually late by nature, to succeed and not be misunderstood when it comes to skills, it's important to make every effort to recondition habits to include learning how to be on time.

Generally, it's accepted that things do happen and occasionally lateness will occur. This is, of course, forgivable, but at the same time, it is important that good etiquette is followed in a monochronic society. Always call and relay a message that you are running late, and do not make this a habit.

By following two guidelines about lateness, the occasional lapse in punctuality probably won't create too much of a disruption in your career, however, habitual lateness and disregard for the clock will cause problems.


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