Avoiding Negative Optics

Avoiding Negative Optics

Recently, President Trump arrived 20 minutes late for a Gender Equality Advisory Committee meeting at the G7 Summit in Quebec. His entrance was disruptive and rude, and it was documented in news reports around the world. The optics were especially negative.

Think back to a recent meeting at your workplace. Was anyone late? Were you late? If so, what optic did your lateness provide for others? A few possible scenarios include:

1. You were viewed as someone who thinks she is self-important. Your late entrance called attention to you. You lamely apologized, mumbling something like your conference call ran late. Everyone else, including the boss, arrived on time, yet what you were doing was so critical—so important—that you simply had to be late.

2. You were viewed as being poorly organized. You are always given plenty of warning about upcoming meeting dates, but you fail to manage your calendar to get there on time. You are seen as a poor planner.

3. You were viewed as an employee who is not serious about her job. Because you are so frequently late, everyone simply expects you to arrive after a meeting begins. It doesn’t seem to matter any more. They start and conduct the meeting without you being present. Your input is not considered important.

4. You were viewed as being disrespectful of your coworkers, your boss, and their time. If there were guests at the meeting, your coming late and missing the introductions was also disrespectful to them.

5. You were viewed as misinformed and not up to speed. You missed the boss’s description about the purpose or goals for the meeting. Perhaps you missed some important discussion

6. You were viewed as a “time-eater.” When you finally arrived, you casually asked for someone “to bring you up to speed.” This disrupted the flow and took up valuable meeting time. This behavior only made matters worse, and it compounded the view that you are self-centered and have feelings of self-importance.

Being viewed in any of the six ways above is a detriment. It can have an impact on your performance evaluation, your chances of promotion, and on your relationship with colleagues, and, even, your boss.

Fortunately, being late is a behavior that can be easily and quickly changed. Start by making a review of your calendar a priority at the start of each week. Be certain there are no scheduling conflicts, and then add things only by leaving an extra ten minutes to get to meetings. Set your phone or computer alarm as a ten-minute warning or ask a friend to swing by on their way to the meeting.

With a little planning and self-discipline, you can avoid being viewed negatively. In fact, you may find that arriving early actually may have some benefits.

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