The underground has been a bit screwed up in London over the past couple of weeks and it feels like lateness has infected the city like a hugely annoying but non fatal malaise. Several clients have been late to recording sessions, people have been late returning phone calls and emails, I've been late to my own appointments and while some of this is most definitely the fault of Transport For London, after a few days it was hard to not start wondering whether the transport issues were not a very convenient excuse for simple tardiness.
In the midst of last week I was wondering why continued lateness bothers me so much and I read this article. I was struck by two things: I completely agree with the author about promptness being good manners, and that constantly being late not only shows a lack of respect for the people you're keeping waiting, in business terms, I feel it also shows a lack of respect for your own career.
I don't like people being consistently late to meet me because I feel it says "my time (me) is more important than your time (you)" and I'm making a big effort to curb my own tardiness because of this. What I've also realised is that being late also says "whatever the reason we are meeting (or corresponding about), it's not as important to my life as whatever I've been doing or just come from (that made me late)".
Is this a bit extreme? I don't think so. If someone has agreed to a business meeting (or correspondence), they think it will be beneficial to their career in some way, and double that if they instigated the meeting/correspondence. By making that meeting less important, to me they are also saying that the part of their career that could be impacted by that meeting is less important to them than others.
I don't think it's taking this idea too far to say the person whom they're meeting will consciously or subconsciously take this on board, and the next time they're considering someone for a role or collaboration, the person who was twenty minutes late to their last meeting won't be the first on their list.
To put this in context in my own business: occasionally I'm asked to recommend voice artists for projects - clients know that as a voice reel producer I come into contact with a wide range of voices in varying accents and languages. When I recommend a voice artist to a client, I'm putting my reputation up for evaluation as well as theirs, so it's important that I recommend artists who I can rely on to be professional, as well as fitting the brief.
If I have to choose between two artists with the same skills and talent and the only thing separating them was that one was prompt with responding to emails or calls and attending the recording session and the other took weeks to respond to emails/calls and was late to the recording session on the day, it's an easy choice.
The first person not only respected my time, by promptly responding to emails, phone calls and being on time for our meeting, they've clearly demonstrated that voice over is important to their career. They'll be the one I recommend. The second person might want to be serious about voice over in the future but just now, another part of their life has taken over, or they might only want to pursue it as a hobby at the moment. The only indication I have of how seriously they want to pursue it is how I've seen them approach it so far. They've consistently made it less of a priority than the first person.
As we stagger into the final few weeks of the year, I think it's worth considering how your approach to your business is seen by others, not just yourself. It's a busy time of year for lots of us, with lots of appointments and meetings - the perfect practise for demonstrating how much you respect your career, and yourself.
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