Time goes byMany people who know me, know that I am obsessed with time. This means, being on time for calls, never being late for meeting and so on. I think it is due to me being crazed for achieving optimal efficiency, which is often helped through computers and a strict routine.

So when I speak with a prospect, client or even a personal friend who has no respect for time – my time or their own time – it bugs me.

This happens often enough, but this afternoon I had someone call me to have a meeting. Let me take you back a bit to give you more history.

I don’t remember exactly when, but maybe a month ago, we spoke on the phone and told him, to give him a price, I need to meet. He then said he will call me, but hopes to call me next week to set something up. That flew by. Yesterday, around noon, I get a call from this guy. I answer, he said, without telling me who he is – what time are you around until today. I said, who is this? He gives me his name. I said, what is this in reference to? He reminds me. So I tell him about 6pm.

Fast forward to today. Yea, he never showed or called after that yesterday. But today, he calls the office. Someone else answers. He talks to whomever answered like he would be aware of a meeting between myself and him, which never happened. The guy who answered put him on hold, spoke to me and then schedule a meeting at 3pm today.

I figured he wouldn’t be here at 3, based on our past conversations. So I told him that it can’t go past 4pm.

The guy shows up at 3:45pm. I decide to talk to him until 4pm and then say goodbye.

This potentially can be a large project but do I want to get involved, knowing that we conflict on how we value or view time?

Update: Seems like nowadays most people reply to me via Twitter (which kills my comments):

@rustybrick don’t do it. I’ve had the same exact experience with contractors and regretted every time.less than a minute ago via Seesmic

@rustybrick no, it’s definitely not too much to ask. If they don’t value your time now, imagine when/if they were a client.less than a minute ago via TwitKit

@rustybrick that guy either has no respect for you or is a total flake and the project will be a disaster – RUN!less than a minute ago via Power Twitter

@rustybrick You can’t work with dorks maintaining such an attitude. You won’t be happy, he won’t be happy, it’ll cost both of you money. Runless than a minute ago via web

RT @SebastianX: @rustybrick You can’t work with dorks maintaining such an attitude. You won’t be happy, he won’t be happy, it’ll cost both..less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

@rustybrick: People often have very different priorities but differences in attitude don’t preclude being good at what’s really important.less than a minute ago via Echofon

@rustybrick I’d say no too. I’m a stickler 4 punctuality. It’s a mark of how much you value the other person’s time.less than a minute ago via HootSuite

Website Comments

  1. rishil

    I would RUN. Sounds like someone who values their own time and probably ideas and principles but not of others- will probably do you more harm then benefit

  2. Rebekah

    Did he apologize for being late or offer an explanation? There could be a valid reason to his tardiness, but given his general lack of courtesy with setting up the meeting in the first place, I would be wary. Did he seem upset when you only spoke to him for 15 minutes, or did he understand?

    If he was understanding, perhaps this made him realize that he needs to be more respectful in the future and show up at the promised time. If this is the case and it is a large project, than you putting your foot down today could have set the stage for a better observance of time in the future.

    If he just didn’t seem to get it at all – then that is unfortunate and likely to continue. Even though it is a large project – how much money might you lose waiting around for him, it may turn out that you would make the same taking on a smaller client who values your time.

  3. Rob W

    Do you think it would be worthwhile simply having this conversation with him? It may be that a quick discussion outlining to him how important strict scheduling is to you might get his attention. Some people aren’t as time sensitive as you are and while that might not be professional, he might still be sensitive enough to the way you work to ensure that at least while he’s dealing with you, he’s more aware of “time”.

  4. Barry Schwartz

    Rebekah, nope – he was not upset. I can tell, it his the way he does things. Which is fine for him, but probably not for me.

    @Rob, I doubt he’d change but who knows. I’ll for sure talk to him.

  5. Rob W

    @Barry I’m frankly quite surprised by the number of consultants that immediately said to dump the potential client. It may work out that he simply doesn’t care about your time but different people and even different cultures can view time really differently. They must be maxed out on clients and not want additional business to dismiss a potential big contract out of hand without making an effort see if both parties can get on the same page.

  6. Scott Clark

    Value is established by the actions and perceptions of the world. So, when someone doesn’t show for a meeting, it is a concise and clear statement about value – in this case, the value of your time.

    If someone gets stuck in traffic or has a problem with kids, I’m cool. I’ve been there.

    But if they are “voting me down” on their priority list, I pretty much pull out – it’s a strong indicator of how the project is going to go.

  7. Kevin Mullett

    I believe most of us have at least one thing that we just can’t seem to get past. For example, I just hardly can be in the room with someone who chews gum like a cow grazing in a field. I don’t care to share in their gum chewing experience, while others could care less.

    The question I try to ask in difficult client interactions is if this was a different issue, one that I noticed but cared less deeply about, could I make the relationship work? If the answer is yes then I try very hard to make it work.

    I would be lying if I said that always worked. šŸ˜‰

  8. israelbro

    well- if he reads your blog – the decision was made already šŸ˜‰

  9. Vim

    i personally would not let him have the time, if he is unreliable with time, then as a client he may be unreliable too, don’t take the risk!!

  10. Lee Odden

    Behavior during the prospecting phase is often indicative of how they will be once you engage. If it’s a solid project and you go for it, then be sure to account for potential time that will be wasted in your pricing. Call it an inconvenience charge šŸ™‚

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