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Women's Health

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Always Late? Find Out Why

1. “I feel anxious” continued...

If you find yourself 20 minutes late for lunch with a few friends three times in a row, it’s time to wonder what’s making you want to avoid them: Are the restaurants where you’re meeting too pricey for your budget? At the back of your mind, are you worried that socializing is taking time from work you ought to be doing? Does someone in the group consistently pressure you to talk more openly about your kids or marriage than you wish to?

Once you’ve homed in on the underlying reason for your feelings, you need to decide how to address it. Planning is the enemy of anxiety. If the menu’s beyond your budget, send a group e-mail suggesting a couple of “great food, great deal” restaurant choices. Your colleagues should get the idea that they’re stressing you out with the four-star routine and dial it back. If it’s that you’re leaving too much unfinished work, plan to devote two extra hours to it the day or evening before. Whether or not you manage to cross everything off your to-do list, you’ve already earned your two-hour lunch break. And if someone’s behavior makes you dread your next get-together, choose a time and place to raise the issue with her in a direct yet conciliatory way. The post-lunch phone call might start off, “I was thinking about how much I look forward to these lunches, for the most part. But there’s something I’m not feeling so great about that I’d like to talk over with you.”

2. “I’m showing who’s in power”

It’s one thing to think, We’re good friends. If I’m a few minutes late it won’t matter. It’s quite another to think, She knows I’m busier than she is. It isn’t a big deal if she waits a few minutes for me to get there. People who use lateness to signify they are special or more powerful than those they keep waiting may not plan to show up late, but there’s often a quiet running commentary at the back of their mind suggesting that others will — and really should — wait for them.

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