“Sorry for being late, but my meeting ran over” you heard (and perhaps used) this numerous times in the past months. Of course, there is also the variant that you should thank people for waiting on you instead of apologizing. What words you use don’t change the fact you are late.
Late is your choice
“If you are five minutes early, you are already ten minutes late.”Vince Lombardi
From the man who had only one place in his game (first place) comes the infamous quote that tells you that when you are not early enough, you are still late.
If you are late, it means you did not leave on time. You did not build in the right margin to arrive on time (arrive 15 minutes before the agreed-upon time). Since you arrive on time, you can start on time, and if you can start on time, you can do all the things you need to do and strengthen your habit of excellence.
Late is about you
Being late is a choice you make. Why not verbalize that it was your choice to be late since there was something that had a higher priority for you? It is a bitter pill to swallow, but better than being dishonest and telling other people that lateness happened to you.
There is nothing wrong with telling people (on time) that you will be late because you need to prioritize something else. We know life (and also meetings) are not predictable and that this can happen.
The critical behaviour you want to show is to be on time (Lombardi Time). You show up on time so the meeting can start at the agreed-upon time. If you are delayed (or might be delayed), you share this with people on time.
Being on time does not require any skill. All it needs is discipline and respect for others and yourself.