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05 May 2013

Four Things We Can Learn from Koreans: "Being On Time"

Part 4: Four Things We Can Learn from Koreans

Most Koreans are always on time.  However, many foreigners noticed that Filipinos are often late for appointments and we are usually unapologetic about it.  I sometimes explained that this so-called tardiness is a cultural thing.  It is more charming than annoying.  We do not have four seasons in this country and so our ancestors were not burdened by time. The sun is always shinning.  We do not have short summers.  We do not have to hurry up so everything will be set once winter comes.  It is also pointless to build something that last because a typhoon, a volcanic eruption or a strong earthquake can just destroy our work. Just live life for the moment. What’s the rush? It is good when you do not have to hurry up for an appointment. Come when you are ready.  Be fashionably late.  Hmm? Am I making excuses again?

As a former manager, I have heard many excuses for tardiness.

One: “Sorry I’m late, heavy traffic.”  
My answer: “Traffic conditions in Metro Manila have not changed since the 1970s and it will get worse in the future. Perhaps, it is time to accept the fact that maybe tomorrow and the day after that, in fact this year, traffic will NOT miraculously improve. Have you thought about preparing for traffic?  Others who live very far manage to come on time, why can’t you? Are all the bus drivers conspiring against you?  When a bus driver sees you, does he secretly say ‘yes, he’s here. I will drive slowly so he will be late again. [Insert evil laugh here].” 

Two:  “There was an emergency at home.”
My answer: “You are probably the unluckiest person in the world.  You have an average of one emergency per week.  My God! Have you ever wondered if someone has put a curse on your existence? Have you tried feng shui? Some of your co-workers (including myself) have personal problems that will force us to be absent for a few weeks but normally, this only happens in one particular month. In your case, you have emergencies every week.  I will pray for you.”  

There are more but my stint as “the Devil Boss” has expired and I am trying to be Zen-like these days but I think you get my point.

Bottom-line, there are really valid excuses for being late but once tardiness has become a habit, it is unforgivable.  Being late is a sign of disrespect.  Period. You are blatantly wasting other people’s time. You are not that important.  Even if you hate your boss, it is not his time you are wasting; it is your co-workers’. If you are late, your co-workers have to fill in for you. They have to do your job. They have to bear the brunt of the complaints from customers.  Don’t you think it is kind of unfair that you are punishing your co-worker who made an effort to come on time? Mind you, some of your co-workers are your friends.  If you want to punish your boss, come to work earlier than your boss and strut in the office like a supermodel ready for the runaway.  Believe me; the worst thing that could happen to you is impress your boss. 

4. Absence of Slave Mentality [and Disclaimer]

(First published in “The Chair” Blog) By Rob San Miguel

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