Poor Excuses

Handling Tardiness: What to Say When Someone is Late for a Meeting

what to say when someone is late for a meeting

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Meetings are an essential part of any productive workplace. However, when participants arrive late, it can disrupt the flow of the meeting and affect efficiency. As a professional, it’s crucial to handle tardiness with respect and tactfully communicate its impact on the meeting. In this section, we’ll discuss what to say when someone is late for a meeting, offering constructive feedback, and suggesting solutions for punctuality improvement.

Being late for a meeting is a common occurrence, but it’s essential to address it professionally. As the organizer or participant of a meeting, you should set clear expectations about punctuality and meeting etiquette from the start. This ensures that everyone understands the importance of arriving on time and avoids tardiness. However, when someone is late for the meeting, there are things you can say and do to address the situation.

Late for a Meeting
Late for a Meeting

So, what should you say when someone is late for a meeting? First, acknowledge their arrival, and then express your concern diplomatically. Express how their late arrival affects the meeting timeline and productivity while maintaining a positive and professional atmosphere. Finally, offer constructive feedback and solutions to help the participant improve their punctuality in the future.

Knowing what to say when someone is late for a meeting is a crucial aspect of maintaining a productive work environment. By setting expectations from the start, acknowledging the lateness diplomatically, expressing concern, and offering constructive feedback and solutions, you can address tardiness without causing embarrassment or disruption. Applying these strategies will help promote punctuality and respect for everyone’s time.

Setting Expectations from the Start

When it comes to meetings, punctuality and meeting etiquette are essential components of a productive and professional work environment. To ensure that everyone is on the same page, it is crucial to set clear expectations from the beginning.

One effective way to communicate these expectations is to include them in the meeting invitation or agenda. For example, you can specify the start time and duration of the meeting, as well as any rules or guidelines regarding tardiness or interruptions.

It is also helpful to model punctuality and good meeting etiquette as a leader or organizer. Arriving on time, starting and ending meetings on schedule, and engaging in active listening and respectful communication set the tone for the rest of the group.

Late for a Meeting
Late for a Meeting

By setting expectations and modeling positive behavior, you can encourage a culture of punctuality and professionalism in meetings.

Acknowledging the Lateness

Arriving late for a meeting can cause delays and disrupt the flow of the conversation. It’s essential to address the late arrival of a participant while maintaining a positive and professional atmosphere.

The first step in acknowledging tardiness is to avoid causing embarrassment or disruption to the meeting’s flow. Instead, focus on getting back on track and ensuring everyone has the same understanding of the meeting’s purpose.

You can also ask the late attendee if anything has happened that caused the delay and reiterate the importance of their participation.

Late for a Meeting

It’s important to avoid making the late arrival the primary focus of the meeting while still acknowledging it tactfully and with respect. By doing so, you show that you value everyone’s time and want to maintain a productive environment, which will ultimately benefit the entire team.

Expressing Concern and Effectively Communicating the Impact

When someone arrives late to a meeting, it’s important to address the issue with professionalism and concern. Begin by acknowledging the attendee’s lateness in a diplomatic manner.

“Thank you for joining us. We’re glad you could make it. We did start a few minutes ago, so we may need to adjust our agenda to ensure we cover everything.”

It’s crucial to communicate the impact of the late arrival on the meeting timeline and objectives. Consider using language that emphasizes the negative consequences, rather than placing blame on the individual.

Late for a Meeting
Late for a Meeting

“We have a tight schedule to get through today, and we may need to cut some items from the agenda if we can’t catch up soon.”

By expressing concern and communicating the impact of tardiness, attendees will understand the importance of punctuality and how it affects the productivity and respect for others’ time in the workplace.

Offering Constructive Feedback and Solutions

While it’s important to acknowledge the late arrival, it’s equally important to offer constructive feedback and solutions to help improve punctuality. Remember to approach this conversation with a non-confrontational tone and emphasize the positive impact that punctuality can have on the overall productivity of the team and respect for other team members’ time.

One way to offer constructive feedback is to use the “Compliment Sandwich” approach. Start by complimenting the late participant on something they’ve done well recently, then address the issue of tardiness, and end with another compliment or a solution to help improve punctuality.

Late for a Meeting
Late for a Meeting

“I really appreciate the effort you put into meeting deadlines for your projects. However, I do want to address the issue of your recent tardiness to team meetings. I understand that things come up, but it can impact the productivity of the team and respect for other team members’ time. Is there something we can do to help you arrive on time in the future?”

Another solution is to provide resources or tools that can help individuals be more punctual in the future. For example, suggest the use of scheduling apps or setting reminders to help them arrive on time to meetings. You can also provide training or workshops on time management and punctuality to help team members improve their overall skills.

Late for a Meeting
Late for a Meeting

Constructive feedback and solutions can help improve punctuality in the long run and create a more productive work environment for everyone.


Handling tardiness in meetings is crucial for maintaining a productive work environment. By setting expectations from the start and acknowledging lateness diplomatically, you can communicate the impact of tardiness on the meeting timeline and objectives effectively. Offering constructive feedback and solutions can help individuals improve their punctuality and respect for others’ time.

Keep in mind the need to approach the situation with professionalism and courtesy, while maintaining a positive and non-confrontational demeanor at all times. By implementing these strategies, you can effectively address and mitigate late arrivals in meetings, ultimately creating a more productive and punctual work environment.

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