How to respond to the friend who's always late
You've been sitting in the parking lot for 15 minutes. And you're trying to ease your growing rage by telling yourself, I'm sure she's stuck in traffic. I know she'll be here any second and yet another dreadful 10 minutes tick by finally, your friend pulls into this spot next to yours and she waltzes out with a casual, sorry. I'm late. And you find yourself saying for the second time that week. "Oh, that's okay." Even though it's not.
But how do you address a friend's chronic tardiness without making it such a big deal? And for my fellow tardy girls, and I say fellow, because I'm working on this too, how do we fix a bad habit that might be unintentionally straining our friendships, giving you four strategies that you can use to call out a friend's lateness and two tips for those of us who are guilty, because it's time that we all got it together.
We love our late friends, but we also need to call out behaviors that kind of cross our boundaries or make us feel taking advantage of and have that open communication. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna give you four strategies that you can use to call out a friend who is always late.
If you're getting a little resentful, it's time to address that. We don't want any silent wedges forming between you, so let's discuss the different ways we can respond. We'll present the strategies in the order of least to most confrontational.
Strategy 1 : Address your friend's lateness by adjusting the start time.
Get creative with the start time.
So this one you've probably heard before, but here's how you do it: Let's say something starts at seven. You would tell your friend, "Hey, the Festival 'pre-party' stuff starts at like 6:25. I really want us to be there in time for that."
Maybe you're not totally committed to the pre-party festivities, but you want her to get there on time, then maybe you give her an earlier time. There's research that says that when you use an odd number, people tend to remember it. So something like 6:25 or 6:27 works, which, yes, sounds so bizarre. But this is actually a study done by Vanessa Van Edwards.
It's memorable, and people are more likely to respond in the affirmative.
Changing the start time is one way to ensure that if your friend isn't on time, then her lateness doesn't have as much of a negative impact.
Strategy 2 : Address your late friend by posing a fun "challenge".
Turn the heat up by making it a game.
So maybe you casually, playfully say to her (at the time of inviting her to an event) "All right, dinner is at 7. But the last person there has to buy everyone a round of drinks / appetizers."
Depending on your friend's personality, your shared history, and your level of closeness, this might be a productive and even exciting strategy.
Now yes, you'll have to take people's financial capacities into consideration, but if that's not an issue, feel free to move forward with this method to make sure your late friend gets there on time. If this doesn't work for you then toss it out-- our goal is to just equip you with different tools for your toolbox. You pull out the one that, that fits your comfort level, your relationship, and her financial situation.
Strategy 3: Address your late friend by explaining the impact of her lateness.
Make it plain by telling her directly.
Some of you just broke out in a little bead of sweat.
But here's the thing: Whenever we think of confrontation, we think of a formal sit down or we think of people being very serious with like serious faces. But confrontation can be warm AND direct. It can be firm AND gentle.
You should not be accusatory in your approach. Instead, you should INVITE her into a conversation about why she's continually running behind. Then focus on the imacpt of her behavior, not the behavior itself.
it may look like this:
Hey, whenever you're running behind I get really anxious waiting for you in the parking lot and then it throws off the plans for the rest of the night. What's going on? Should we meet somewhere closer to your house? Are we meeting up too early in the day?
So often when we come straight for somebody's behavior, they can't help but to get defensive: "Girl, you're always late. Like you show up 20 minutes late and it's so annoying!"
So speak to the impact.
[If you need more detailed advice on how to have a hard conversation, view our video on YouTube.]
Strategy 4: Leave.
This tip is not for the weak.
If you're waiting for your friend and an insane amount of time has passed and this is the seventh time she's done this DESPITE you having already addressed it.... you may need to leave.
Now, you need to know your audience. So much of these strategies are about context.
But if you have a friend who really ahsn't made an adjustments despite your attempts to let her know how it makes you feel, then show her how serious you are about that boundary by acting on it.
If she arrives and you're not there and she finally arrives by texting, "Where'd you go?" you can tell her that you had to move on to other things you ahd planned for your night. Or you can be direct and tell her you don't feel comfortable waiting that long and so you all can plan for another time.
Depending on how gangster you are, this might be the way to go. But as always, you'll need to consider your audience, your history, and what feels most appropriate to your situation.
If this is something you're currently struggling with and it's causing you anxiety, dread, and constant confusion, book a friendship coaching session with our resident female friendship coach and educator Danielle Bayard Jackson.
And if you're ready to be among like-minded women who are intentional about friendship, join our "group chat" today!