The 20-minute rule

by Volker Weber

I've never written this rule up, now I have. Please, if you make an appointment with me, try to be on time. And if you're more than 20 minutes late, you'll find I'm not here.

Neither have I. It's also why I am not waiting for your call. I call you.

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[via Konstantin]


does this apply to girls too?

Giuseppe Grasso, 2010-02-14

Giuseppe, depends on the girl. And on your intentions. ;-)

Helmar Steinberg, 2010-02-15

If she's more than 20 minutes late and you are not informed before, she is not worth it regardless ;)

francie tanner, 2010-02-15

Dave -Winer- ???

Boudewijn Kiljan, 2010-02-15

Punctuality is one of these very local things though. I moved a couple of years ago from Germany to Switzerland, and the understanding of what is polite shifted.

Germans are very punctual but are outdone by the Swiss. You will be expected to come 5 minutes before the meeting time (say 08.55) so that the meeting can actually *start* at 09.00. For deliverables the expectation is different too. If you say "it will be done for Thursday", the expectation here is "I will send you the XXX first thing in the morning on Thursday, so that you can start working on it then".

By comparison, I have worked in France, where lateness was tolerated - around 10-15 minutes, and have first-hand reports from Barcelona, where the whole concept of punctuality is seen as a quaint overobsessiveness.

Personally, I prefer by now the swiss punctuality, but one has to be able to adapt to local expectations.

How is it for your country? I would be interested.

Andrew Magerman, 2010-02-15

At a corporate level, I've always found that punctuality in meetings permeates down from senior management. If their meetings regularly overrun then there is little hope for other scheduled meetings. Eventually this attitude is ingrained and becomes the 'culture' of the company.

Kieren Johnson, 2010-02-15

first have to admit: Swiss speaking here, and yes it is sometimes "overobsessive".
But I remember my student days, in the fraternity or Burschenschaft, there was ALWAYS a mention of st (sine tempore: be there at the precise second or else...) or ct (cum tempore: the academical 15 mins are ok and quite expected). I found this rather handy.
Today I try to be on the minute (or 5) and I see it as a sign of respect to my meeting partner. But then again respect or lack thereof against other people in todays society is a topic that could fill phonebooks.

Chris Frei, 2010-02-15

Interesting and valid observations that "what is polite" doesn't only depend on the country, but on the corporate culture. Here in Anguilla 3pm means "around 430pm" while in the US 3pm means "by 315pm" and of course in Switzerland 3pm means 2:59pm :)

You are completely right, Andrew, it is about adaptation to local and cultural customs and anything else is still disrespectful.

francie tanner, 2010-02-16

danke Francie, ich han gwüsst du würsches verstah ;)
So, kleiner Witz unter Schweizern, schön dass Francie (die ich zwar nicht kenne aber deren Blog ich sehr schätze) Ihr Verständnis der Schweiz trotz Lebensmittelpunkt Anguilla nicht verloren hat.
Ich hatte mal ein Haus auf den Bahamas, kann das mit 3pm = 430pm nachvollziehen. das gilt aber nur on a sunny day, wenns regnet kommt man auch mal gar nicht, weil dann war irgendwo ne strasse überflutet. Und auf den Bahamas (in der karibik kennt genrell?) man immer nur EINEN Weg irgendwohin, auch wenn man mittels eines Umwegs auch ans Ziel käme. Gilt nicht nur fürs Autofahren übrigens, wenn ich mir das so recht überlege...

Chris Frei, 2010-02-16

Lol, ja Chris, das stimmt wegen dem Regen, hier passiert auch nichts wenn es draussen nass ist, obwohl es jeweils nur fuer ein paar Minuten regnet. Auf der einen Seite schätze ich das, weil es wirklich wichtigere Dinge gibt ausser "all work, all the time" aber genau diese Haltung macht es auch sehr schwer, wenn ICH mal was erreichen möchte auf dieser Insel.

(have to switch to English now, my German is a mess)
The concept you mention with regards to one way to get some place, really is more of a "I am not going to bother trying very hard" culture and that part is quite difficult for me to deal with. At the same time, it's what makes me so effective here and it also has granted me another perspective which generally tends to turn you into a more tolerant and wiser human being in the end.

Again, it comes down to being able to adapt and I am amazed by people like you and Andrew who can go to/from other places to return to the entirely inflexible Switzerland.

francie tanner, 2010-02-16

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