Always Being Late Is Officially Not A Quirky Personality Trait

by : Emma Rosemurgey on : 11 Aug 2019 16:37

Forget being ditzy or messy by default, there’s a new personality trait set to annoy your co-workers and disrupt all your social plans and it’s called being perpetually late.


Or that’s what a small (but growing) number of people would have you believe, when they make excuses for their lack of punctuality by insinuating it is part of their DNA.

Somewhere along the way, being late seemed to stop being rude and just became accepted as part of someone’s personality.

All over social media, there are memes that say ‘I will likely be late because of who I am as a person’, but I’m calling bullsh*t on this growing trend. Being late is a choice, and it’s rude.


Everyone is late from time to time. Whether you’ve missed your alarm, your train is running late or you need to make an emergency trip to the loo on your way out to meet the lads at the pub, I’m not saying everyone has to be bang on time for every single life event.

But when people are consistently late, day in day out, to the point where they don’t even need to apologise anymore, because it’s simply expected of them, it starts to cross the line from cute and endearing to downright annoying.

Despite some people’s best efforts to convince us otherwise, being late is not part of your DNA, and is often down to external factors, like being glued to your smartphone.

David Brudö, who set up mental well-being and self development app Remente, thinks phones play a huge role in people’s tardiness, as well as the fact we’re constantly ‘plugged in’ to our work emails, rather than some innate built in our core.

He told UNILAD:

The short answer is that, no, there is nothing in our DNA that makes us consistently late, but it is rather habitual.

David referred to a study of 2,000 adults in the UK, which found that a quarter of those surveyed admitted to making excuses for being late ‘regularly’ but feel guilty after being about nine minutes late.


It also suggested that 20 minutes is the threshold people could reach before becoming annoyed at someone’s tardiness, although I reckon a lot of people might start to get a little bit irritated before then if it’s happening with the same person more consistently.


He continued:

The fact that we are also constantly plugged into our work emails and available to take work-related calls can also cause us to run late to meet with friends or reschedule. The same study found that seven per cent of people will be late to a social event because they were being held up at work.

That said, being punctual is a very important trait as always being late, both to social and work events, can lead to missed opportunities, cause a rise in stress, guilt and anxiety, and it might even damage your reputation. A recent study by jobs.ie found that 46 per cent of employees feel resentful toward their persistently late colleagues.

It’s hardly surprising people become consistently frustrated with their colleagues’ lack of punctuality if nothing is ever being done about it. However, one expert claims it’s down to the particular culture which determines how we view lateness.


Ted Mentele, editor in didactics at Babbel, told UNILAD:

Running late is certainly not in our DNA, but different cultures do look at tardiness in a number of ways.

For example, being one minute behind schedule in Japan is considered late and, true to the stereotype, Germans prefer it if you are 10 minutes early to a meeting. Conversely, in countries like Morocco and Saudi Arabia, running as much as 30 minutes late is still considered extremely timely.

In multicultural cities, such as London, these differing attitudes all come together, meaning that in the same workplace some people could be 10 minutes early, and others might be almost an hour late. While timeliness and tardiness are not in our genetic make-up, each person’s definition of punctuality is certainly defined by cultural norms and behaviours typically seen in the country that they have grown up in.


One psychologist has noted that for most people, it’s not an intention to be late, but rather a fear of being early that motivates their tardiness, which could derive from a person valuing their own time higher than others.

However, writing on Well Doing, Phillipa Perry, explained the opposite could be true, citing that lateness could actually be the result of someone believing their presence was so insignificant to others that it wouldn’t matter.


Self-confessed late gal Katie Brown always finds herself late when it comes to getting to go out for a meal, attending social events and even admits frequently being late in getting back to work after her lunch break. In fact, the 23-year-old cake designer confessed even having to re-do entire cakes because she was late in taking them out of the oven.

Speaking to UNILAD, she cited her lateness first starting back in high school when she had no motivation for anything:

I had no motivation at all and would be late for school, handing coursework in and stuff, I suppose I got quite used to it and now it’s the norm for me.

I love my job so I have no excuse to try to be late. I think I just manage time poorly outside of the office. I get distracted easily!


Most of us have at least one late pal, and while we can debate back and forth about the reason behind their tardiness, we all know it’s inevitable, so it’s more a case of learning how to deal with it.

The oldest trick in the book has got to be telling your late mate to be at a venue for 4pm, when things aren’t getting kicked off until half 5. It works like a charm.

As for your late work colleagues? Well, no one likes a grass so you’re probably better off just getting on and not worrying about it.

Sorry we can’t be of any more help, but if you don’t mind, I’m running late for the pub because I’ve been trying to find ways to help you deal with your work colleagues and there aren’t any.

If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.

Topics: Featured


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