I have a group of friends and one person is often late and gives misleading communication. Twice he made it sound likes he's close and "just parking his car" but takes another 20-30 minutes to arrive. He also tends not to reply to messages and phone calls when running late. Once I was at a restaurant waiting for him. He wasn't answering his phone so after 30 minutes I left. He then asked where I went and I told him I left, he said it was like I lied to him by saying I would wait for him. He told me he had turned off his phone to charge it in his portable battery.

He is Filipino and I once heard it's sort of a cultural thing to be late. I feel a little bit bad about addressing this with him since I'm not great at being on time myself. I'm normally 5 minutes late, but try to communicate this. Him being 30+ minutes late I think is a bit different.

How can I get him to realize his lateness is getting excessive? How can I get him to start communicating clearly how much longer until he arrives?

I have a tendency to either not say anything, or get abrasive when trying to fix something that someone is doing that bothers me.

I know it may seem similar to this one so I will highlight some differences:

  1. I'm looking for actions I can take, not theory analyzing the situation. So I'm not looking for answers like "some people [with ADHD] just are bad at being on time".
  2. We meet in a public place that everyone must invest time in getting to.
  3. Ideally I would fix their being late, if not then at least get some communication.
  • 1
    Hey! This one does look better, but since your last one didn't have any answers, editing that would've been fine too. I've removed two questions, one was off-topic here and the other primarily opinion based. If you're looking for actions to take, best to focus your question on that and not distract people with 'sidequests' ;-). On that note, I think it might help to elaborate a bit on actions you've already tried (if any) and their results, and if you haven't, on what action you'd usually take but why you feel you might be too abrasive when doing so.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 10:31

2 Answers 2


I'll put aside the cultural component here. Paying attention to culture is important, but that needs to happen from both sides.

First of all, it is nearly impossible to change someone else's behavior. They have to want to change it, and they have to make that change. What you can do, however, is change your response to someone else's behavior. In doing so, you can establish that the behaviors causing you stress won't be tolerated and can hopefully influence change.

I've got some friends and family members for whom clocks are... interesting and curious things. They know what clocks are, but just don't interact well with them. There are some folks who have legitimate issues (ADHD, etc.), but those are a small group.

What I've done is to establish my threshold for lateness. In my case, it's 15 min. I'll wait for you for 15 min and after then assume you're not coming. I don't beg people to be on time; I don't chase people. It took some family members being pretty frustrated and angry with me ("where were you?" "I hung around for 15 min and when you didn't show up, I figured you weren't going to.") Now people know that I'll wait that length of time and after that leave.

How has that helped? The folks that I give rides to and meet with know that I have a pretty low threshold. My family doesn't play that game with me. I get a LOT less stressed out - I hang around for a quarter hour, stare at my phone, do some people-watching, and then leave.

  • I don't mean to be rude but this is exactly the kind of answer I'm not looking for, I even give this in the example. Was something unclear? "I've got some friends and family members for whom clocks are... interesting and curious things. " I don't want to make justifications for him. "What I've done is to establish my threshold for lateness. In my case, it's 15 min." this doesn't work if you invest time in just getting there.
    – user27664
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 12:59
  • @flagshumbug Thanks for the feedback. I realize that #3 is the ideal result; I personally believe that changing other people's behavior is really hard. Hence, my answer of changing my behavior in response to theirs. After friends and family realized that I would leave after 15 minutes, I got a LOT more communication because they knew if they didn't show up, I'd be gone. I'd submit that, even if I've invested time in getting there, I can either spend good time after bad or cut my losses and go to a hobby shop and enjoy myself. Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 14:38
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    @baldPrussian: your answer seems to contains lot of bla bla..., and it hides the useful idea (the deadline of 15 min). My advice: either remove some of the "blah" text, or at least properly highlight the 4th paragraph (describing the strategy with waiting 15 min).
    – virolino
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 5:51

Just assume that he will be late.

This is probably not the answer you want to hear, but in this circumstance it seems that correcting his behavior is near impossible (as baldPrussian said). Considering that he already experienced consequences of lateness (you leaving the restaurant) and that this presumably has not led him to apologize or attempt to correct his behavior, it will probably just cause you more stress to try to correct his behavior with little effect.

If possible, you could tell him a slightly corrected time to account for his lateness. This is what doctor's offices are doing when they say to arrive 15 mins early for "paperwork". Just be prepared to have an explanation if he happens to arrive before you.

Source: I am not very good at punctuality myself (usually 5-15 mins late), but I have also dealt with friends who are far worse than me (like an hour late to pick me up at the airport).

I know that often when I go to visit my friend I have every intention of leaving in 15 minutes, but since I don't want those 15 to be wasted I do something else in the meantime and inevitably leave 15 minutes later than I said I would.

I sometimes don't communicate this in a timely fashion because I don't want to get nagged at, but I will communicate it at some point. With my friends who can be very late, I just mentally prepare myself for it and also prepare something to do in the meantime (like a phone game or notebook to draw in).

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