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What does it mean to be on time?

What does it mean to be on time?

By Donna Dunning

Personality Type and Communication

In a recent post on the CPP Education Blog, Catherine Rains debunks the “Ps are usually late” stereotype. She mentions that a friend of hers, with a preference for Judging, defines “on time” as arriving fifteen minutes early.

So what does it really mean to be “on time”? There are many contextual and cultural as well as individual differences in how people relate to and manage time.

For me, it depends on where I am going and my responsibilities when I get there.

On the Job

My son (ISTJ preferences) once commented that, for work functions, he liked to arrive “ridiculously early”, especially when going somewhere for the first time. Like Catherine’s friend, he was happy to scout out the location ahead of time and then wait for the event.

I generally like to be about 5-10 minutes early to a work event. If I have some responsibilities there or am facilitating, I like to be at least 20-30 minutes early.

Being late in a work setting, in my opinion, is a performance issue not a matter of personality type preferences. Making excuses for lateness, based on a personality type preference, is inappropriate. The need to follow business norms and demonstrate competency trump my natural “go with the flow” approach in these settings.

I discuss this in my posts The Difference Between Skills and Preferences and Misuses of Personality Type.

In Social Settings

In social settings, being on time is an entirely different thing. It seems rude to intrude on someone’s personal space before the start time of an event. As we all know, if a party starts at 8 PM, people rarely arrive early. A few people may arrive on time at 8 PM, but most will arrive a half hour or more later.

My ISTJ son had a hard time getting his head wrapped around the idea of “social time”. If people were invited to our house at 8 PM, he expected them to show up at 8 PM. The ambiguity of “8ish” wasn’t all that comfortable for him.

Of course if you are meeting someone to attend a scheduled event this gets complicated, as some people can get quite anxious when their guests arrive to an event “just in time”. I have friends who want to be at the event and sitting down at least ten minutes before the start time and others who are happy grabbing their seats right as the event begins.

Some of these differences seem to relate to Extraversion/Introversion as well as Judging/Perceiving. EPs seem to be the most comfortable with “just in time” arrivals and IJs seem to like being early and settled in before something begins.

How do you define “late” and “on time”? Do you see a link between how you define these concepts and your personality type preferences?

If you are looking for ideas on how to communicate more effectively, Introduction to Type and Communication helps you understand communication preferences.

If you live in the USA, Introduction to Type and Communication is now available on Kindle.

The images for this series on personality type concepts are from a recent visit to the Butterfly Gardens near Victoria, British Columbia.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 at 8:02 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “What does it mean to be on time?”

  1. Dee Relyea says:

    Donna, Good article. As an EP, I agree that I prefer not to be early. One thing I do want to point out as a P, is that while I never intend to be late, I do “lose track” of time. I think this is part of the P makeup (particularly NP’s). We get caught up in possibilities thinking and sometimes, simply exist in a timeless place of “now”. It is not a shirking of responsibilities to others, it is a lack of having a routine, or a structured schedule of things to do and places to be.

  2. Mike Erickson says:

    I am an IJ who needs to be at an event at least 5-10 minutes early so I can have time to settle in and get acquainted with the surroundings. If I walk in after most people are there, I’m very uncomfortable and have a hard time getting comfortable for the duration of the event.

  3. Christy P says:

    I am an INFJ, and I have a hard time getting ready for anything on time. It seems that no matter how early I wake up or start getting ready, I can’t be on time to anything, whether it be professional or social. I get antsy and uncomfortable if I am too early to anything, but feel bad when I am late, especially when I have people waiting on me or I have to walk in in front of everyone. However, my INTP ex-bf always likes to be early. He is also organized, whereas I am cluttered. I have alot of P traits, and he has many J traits, so I think that (at least for N’s) it depends on the person.

    Then again, I’ve heard that for introverts, whatever is in our personality typing, such as J, isn’t really our primary mode of operating. For example, with INFJ’s, we are actually P’s because our dominant function of intuition is actually a perceiving function, and the J in INFJ actually only refers to our extraverted function, which is our secondary feeling function. Which means that as an INFJ I am truly a P, but only appear to be a J from the outside.

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