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The Time Factor
In our North American culture, being on time for appointments and returning
phone calls promptly convey underlying messages of respect, courtesy, and a
willingness to conduct business. Also, punctuality and promptness are aspects of
business etiquette that indicate a concern for schedules and deadlines to come.
As the saying goes, “time is money.”
On the other hand, when you are late or delay returning calls, you run the
risk of being perceived as rude or disrespectful or unwilling to pursue a business
relationship. You also might be seen as potentially unreliable. After all, if you
can’t be on time for a meeting, how can others be sure that you’ll deliver your
work on time? Depending on other circumstances in your life that affect your
ability to be on time, these may or may not be valid interpretations; yet it’s necessary
to know how your actions might be perceived. Being chosen for a project
or a job sometimes comes down to a “gut reaction,” where nonverbal signs like
punctuality make all of the difference.
Time also may indicate power positioning. You might fantasize that
keeping someone waiting for an appointment or taking phone calls and allowing
staff interruptions during a meeting sends the message that you’re a very
important person who is much in demand. Just remember that these nonverbal
messages have more of a chance of offending than they do of impressing the
receiver. It’s better to let your work indicate your importance and desirability.
Most successful designers believe in punctuality as a sign of professionalism.