How do you deal with people who don’t respect your time?
|August 4, 2016||Posted by Assegid under Africa, Communication, Ethiopia, Goal Setting and Strategy, Leadership, Personal Story, Self Awareness, Self Management, Updates, Values & Character||
Recently, I wrote an article entitled “The Necessity of Cultural Reform: Working with time, not against”. The article was published on some Ethiopian Diaspora websites. By the way, I share my articles and follow up blogs on a face-book page. My goal in establishing a face-book page called ‘Standing for Ethiopia‘ was to create an online forum to contribute my little share in making Ethiopia a better place for its people. The forum allows Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia to exchange views that may bring positive changes in Ethiopia. Others are paying huge prices, and dedicated their entire life and resources to make Ethiopia better. I should at least use my passion, which is empowering leaders, and my expertise as a leadership and organizational expert to write thought provoking and practical articles that aim at promoting reforms mainly cultural since no change in other aspects of the country be it political, economic, or scientific discoveries could bring lasting transformation.
In this LinkedIn post, I thought sharing with you my follow up blog, which I posted on Standing for Ethiopia page, in response to some people’s excuses for not living up to their value- promptness, since the majority of the people they love, work and live with don’t share their value. Enjoy reading and let me know your thoughts:
One of the feedbacks I’ve got following the piece on time, which is posted on some Ethiopian Diaspora websites, is we cannot do anything individually to change this scenario while the majority of the people we love, work, and live with undermine promptness. I completely understand this frustration. Individually, we are too insignificant to change a culture. However, there are some things that are under our control to make sure we protect our precious time. While working hard to reform our culture using our talent and influence, we should find ways to circumvent around this culture of tardiness.
For example, I’m writing and talking about it regardless of the backlashes and criticisms as if I’m betraying our culture because I talk about it publicly and suggest ways to reform it. As far as I’m concerned, this is a national embarrassment and the whole world knows about it. We cannot shy away or hide it in plain sight. We’ve so many awesome cultural assets to be proud. We should be grateful for these great attributes and work hard to eliminate, or at least, mitigate those that are counterproductive.
We cannot come out of poverty, backwardness, chaoses, and so on without placing time in our side, without being accountable to time.
Any ways, the point I’m trying to make is that this change in mindset about how we Ethiopians should treat time may take years or even decades. What should we (those of us who would like to be prompt) do to adopt the situation until it changes in our favor? We shouldn’t conform and drop our expectations on how other people should treat our time to appease others nor withdraw from our community 100 % and decide to live on an ‘island’. It’s possible to keep our relationships, work, and partner with our Ethiopian brothers and sisters without compromising our value, that is, respecting time.
Here are some of the things that I do 90% of which worked so far. I tell people that I’ll be there sharp on time (In most cases, I arrive 15 min earlier). I also tell them that if I couldn’t make it on time, I’ll let them know ahead of time. By the way, I follow the same principle if I sense someone from another culture may not come promptly. For instance, I’ve a Nigerian friend whom I met when I was studying my doctoral program a couple of years ago- a great friend whom I respect tremendously (very smart, intelligent, caring, and humble person) though he has a challenge when it comes to being prompt 🙂 Initially, I used to ask him with a big laugh and broad smile saying that ‘is this American or African time’? If he says African time, that means, the time is open, it’s a range from, let’s say, between 2 – 4 pm. If it is American time, not only we decide the time to meet but also departure time. And, we meet sharp on time and conclude promptly as discussed. Here is an interesting development. Now, if we plan to meet, he is the one asking me, is this African time or American? 🙂 Of course, there were African times where we just say I’ll be in in ‘this place’ the whole afternoon, stop by when you can and let’s talk about school works.
This approach of being upfront about my expectation has helped me a lot. Notice, I’m not telling (commanding) grown up people to come on time and text me if they think they’ll be late. I tell them that is what I do. Many quickly pick that up, and willingly practice it. From my experience, most of the time, people response positively. They either come on time or let me know that they are going to be a late so that I may plan with my time ahead.
But, not all people I’ve met are like that. Some come late regardless. Old habits are hard to die. Here is the hard thing I do to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. I know it is hard, especially with some people who are your mentors, lovers, and bosses. Even then, if they come more than 15 minutes late without a strong reason why, and without alerting me, I make it my business to let them know that they should let me know ahead next time if they think they are going to become late. Remember this. If you don’t speak up, people think you’re okay with it, and they do it again and again. That isn’t their fault alone. Here is another tough decision that I make regardless of who that person is. If they do come late for the third time, the relationship will be over. Here is a paradox. People might have told you again and again that they respect and like you but disrespect your time. The simple and practical proof that you respect someone is showing respect to the person’s scarcest resource- time. The rest are just empty words, no proof, at least humanly speaking because we cannot read someone’s heart and know whether that person do respect us.
For your info, 10% of the times, this approach didn’t work. Some people thought that I was egotistical for being serious about time. They wanted me to write a free check for them in the expense of my scarcest resource. When they didn’t get that they wrongly assumed that I had thought highly of myself; and thus, they did quit the relationship prematurely. What they missed was that being prompt is one of my values. If I don’t protect this value means it’s not my value at all, period. Those of you who are values-based, people who are ready to die for some of your values (it doesn’t need to be time), you know what I’m talking about. You know the emotion attached with your values. Thanks for feeling me 🙂 I revere my values, like you do yours, more than I protect my ego. I care less of my ego, sorry buddy 🙂 Yes, my ego may get brushed and hurt when someone abuses my time but it’s not about me. I do whatever I can to honor my values, and that is what I write about, that is what I teach my audience and counsel my coachees and mentees. For those who may not feel me right now (or even get irritated) 🙂, hope, you may sympathize (even if you may not agree with me 100%) when you read my upcoming books on values. You may understand why values deserve to be honored by all costs. For now, I’d like to let you know that the least one can do to live up to his/her values is to speak on their behalf without fearing consequences like losing dear prospective friends or partners.
By the way, I never expected people to be perfect. I myself found myself being late in many occasions- my car’s tire got flat, traffic was bad, emergency situation knocked my door, etc. Nonetheless, I always notify the person who is waiting for me either via phone or text. We shouldn’t have unreasonable expectations from others. Let me know ahead of time to plan with my time if you couldn’t make it isn’t an unfair expectation.
How do you make people respect your time as you work with people who don’t mind coming late? What is your experience? Which approaches worked and which ones failed? Let’s talk about it…