We are all busy and we are all getting busier. There are more reasons than ever to be late for meetings, calls and other commitments. Most people seem to be able to meet their daily commitments on a daily basis, but there are some people who are habitually late. What message does it really send when we are always running late?

We all know that one friend or business associate who is always late. In fact being late is the norm for them. We get frustrated, we might even complain directly to them, or we might just accept that this is the way they are and we have to deal with it. But from a professional point of view, what messages could they be sending, perhaps even without realizing it.   

1. I'm more important than you, so it's OK to keep you waiting.

While the habitually late person might not intend to send this message, it could very well be exactly the message they are sending. How long will a client/service provider relationship last with this dynamic running the show and causing all kinds of frustration?

2. I'm so disorganized that I can't arrange my life enough to be on time.

People who are late all the time can give the impression that they are disorganized. While this might not always be true, that's what it looks like. How confidence-inspiring is it to work with someone like this? Or to have a supplier like this? I know I'd be looking for someone new to work with if I had to put up with a supplier that could never turn up on time.

3. My time is more valuable than yours.

I'm sure there are some people who actually use the running late concept as a bit of a power play. It sends a terrible message and one that is in many ways downright insulting.

4. I don't really value our relationship.

Could they be sending the message that the relationship simply isn't that important, hence they don't care if they get there on time or not? Like all of these messages, they may not actually be what they are intending to say, but it's easy to see how they could be interpreted in a negative way.

5. I can't manage my time.

The person who is always a little out of control and by association always late, really sends the message that they are busy, but perhaps more so, they send the message that they can't manage their time. Who would want to work with someone who can't manage their time effectively? From my experience, someone else always ends up picking up the slack that they create.

The bottom line is that if you run late all of the time, either in person or with your commitments, you are sending messages that will get interpreted in ways that you might not like. And this can, in turn, have a huge impact on your business.

I knew a lady that ran a PR company several years ago. She kept everyone waiting, including her clients. I picked up a pile of work from her simply because people got sick and tired of waiting on her, taking her lateness as a sign of arrogance. Eventually, her business went broke, and I have no doubt it was simply because she couldn't get her life together enough to turn up on time.

Being late all of the time is more than an irritation. It can destroy relationships with people who you really need to help you grow your business. We all need to do a little soul searching with this and perhaps ask what messages are we sending with our actions. Being late is one obvious frustration, but of course, there are many others.