Sunday, January 12, 2014
Here are three suggestions from Nancy Mulloy-Bonn that appeared on the ALI CLE blog last year:
- Call ahead. If you think you will be late, get real and call ahead. That is why Steve Jobs gave us iPhones. And that is why you should routinely add to your e-calendar the address of your destination, host’s cell phone number, and admins’ contacts. Even if you can realistically hope to make it by the bell, call ahead as soon as you start to perspire. Alert the leader of the meeting in a way that she will get the message before the meeting. If you then show up on time, so what? You are polite.
- Don’t explain. No one really cares about why you are late. They only care that it was time to start and you were not there and no one knew when or if you would show. Let them know that you do know the rules with a fast and short, “So sorry.” But don’t wreck it by adding reasons. All excuses sound feeble unless you are bandaged or holding someone’s death certificate.
- Slip in, and don’t make it worse. Don’t make a big deal when you enter. It’s like going into a church while the preacher is hitting his stride. Slide in as coolly as you can. Don’t interrupt with five minutes of finding a spot for your coat, getting coffee, asking for the handouts, etc. Don’t expect anyone to re-cap the first ten minutes of the meeting, or to do a complete round of introductions for you. Have a bunch of business cards ready to pass around, if appropriate.
Of course, if you are really, really late, you ought to consider skipping it. What would your presence do for you, and for the others? As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Better never than late.” Follow up with a fast and simple email apology to the people you inconvenienced.