THE BLOG
01/04/2012 09:04 am ET Updated Mar 05, 2012

Fashionable Late, or Rude?

In the constantly evolving world of today, our notion of self-importance has widened and with it our general courtesy and awareness of others has decreased. But who can blame us? We live in a society built on the constructs of moving a million miles per second, in which free time is a foreign word. 'What we need when we need it' is our mantra, and no one will stand in our way. Being fashionably late is traditionally applied to one's attendance of a party or event, for one can imagine Marilyn Monroe swooping in an hour late just to make her grand entrance, or rather, three days late to one of her own rehearsals. However, the term "fashionably late" has now expanded to envelope more than a 15-minute tardiness to a dinner, but instead into every aspect of our chaotic lives from blowouts to coffees with a friend. We get so caught up in our daily business that we stop planning ahead. Trains are late, we can't prevent that, nor can we prevent lunchtime or end of day traffic. We swoop in apologizing for our tardiness or sometimes we don't, but instead we just show up and plop down too consumed in our own worlds to offer up an excuse. What we don't realize is though we often feel the weight of our chaotic lives, so too does everyone else around us.

How many times have you walked into a room and exhaled, "I'm so sorry I'm late, it's been a CRAZY day!" We don't take the time to factor in how the other person feels, for maybe their day was just as crazy too. Instead we offer up excuses or accept the 15-minute leniency "fashionably late" allows. But, how long is actually fashionable? 15 minutes? 20? 30? When did it become acceptable, no matter what the scenario, to make someone else wait on our behalf? The answer is it hasn't. The question shouldn't be about the length of time, but rather about the reason we do it. We try to be fashionable in every aspect of our lives and we feel truly great when we know we look it. What we neglect amid our busy days is to extend that style into other parts of our lives. We obviously can't control some circumstances, but we can plan for most them.

When scheduling coffee, try walking out the door two minutes earlier, stop what you're doing with enough time to freshen up, or pencil in other meetings accordingly. Don't wait until the last second or book other engagements one on top of the other because you'll never be on time for anything and definitely not in style. Dressing the part is important, but it's only half of it.

Next time you know you'll be running a few acceptable minutes late, shoot over an email or text or even a call -- God forbid -- and make your lateness a tad more fashionable instead of just plain rude!