Punctuality is the Politeness of Kings

King Louis XVIII of France

King Louis XVIII of France

It’s the little things that can say so much about a person. One of those, and maybe not such a little, is punctuality. When someone shows up late, it often implies the message that your time is not as valuable as theirs. There’s an unspoken disrespect or apathy.

   King Louis XVIII of France, the post-French Revolution restored Bourbon King, ruled France from 1812-24. A child of the Age of Enlightenment and student of Voltaire, he was known for his wit and manners. Most historians agree that it was King Louis XVIII who first coined the phrase, “Punctuality is the Politeness of Kings.” The implication is that if a king can show the courtesy of being on time for a meeting than surely we can too.

   Tardiness for a job interview or an audition almost always spells doom. Being late for work can earn a big, fat demerit. Lateness for an appointment may portend that you’re not dependable. Lateness for a personal engagement often delivers disappointment. 

   How can we ensure that we will be on time? There’s one uncomplicated method that will almost always get you to an appointment on time. It’s the “count-down-backwards method.”

Let’s make up a hypothetical meeting time. Say, 9:00am on a Monday.

The first step to punctuality:

   Have your route planned out well in advance. In this case, the preceding day; Sunday. In your planning, leave a certain amount of time for the X-Factor (unexpected circumstances for example; train delays, rubber-neck delays, weather delays, etc.) Your running time, (that’s a transportation term meaning; the time it takes to get from Point A to Point B,) plus the X-Factor will determine the latest that you can leave your home.

   So, if you calculate an hour to drive to your destination,  then allow for at least half that in “what-if” time. So, with our reverse countdown, this means leaving the house at 7;30am at the latest.

The second step:

   You need to know how many minutes all of the tasks require for you to be ready to leave your home.

A. Will you have to grab a bite at home before you leave? In this example, you would have your meal planned out on Sunday or Saturday. Or, at least know that there will be enough food unless you eat the same thing each morning.

* If this meeting was scheduled at the last minute, ask the other party if you can have a window of time that you can get together.

B. Shower and shave? Make-up? Know about how many minutes this takes you. Time yourself next time you shower and shave.

C. Pick out your clothes and get dressed. If it’s a morning appointment, set your suit on a clothing horse and shine your shoes, the night before.

    So, if the total amount of time to get ready is an hour, then this means stopping everything you’re doing and begin to get ready at 6:30am.

   Hint: Use your smartphone timers to help.

   For most significant appointments, I will plan on showing up an hour early. Yes, I am usually the first one to arrive, but I’m also the one who is the least stressed from the trip. Use your extra time to relax, grab a cup of coffee, or read my blog. You’ll be surprised how fast it goes.

   If circumstances are way beyond your control and you know that you’ll be late, call or text message your party to let them know, asap.

   Remember, being on time shows that you respect the persons you are meeting, that you recognize the importance of keeping to your commitments and that you feel the reason you’re meeting is necessary.

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James Finn

Author: James Finn

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