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 The etiquette of being on time

How late is too late ?

· French Etiquette

Being on time is a matter of respect for the people you meet. That being said, there can be flexibility in specific scenarios, which would allow you to be slightly late.

In order for you to keep a mannerly behavior when you show up to an event, let’s see today how late is too late for the following scenarios !

A business meeting

In business, showing up on time is a must and shows that you value others’ time as much as yours. Try to be five minutes early so you can relax before the meeting starts.

If you are stuck in a traffic jam, send a text message to apologize, but don’t be more than ten minutes late.

A job interview

If you really want the job, any lateness is not acceptable. This is the same for university admission interviews or any meeting where you need to prove yourself competent.

A romantic date

Is a date really different than a job interview when it comes to being on time ? No. Even though the person is easygoing, this is disrespectful to arrive more than five minutes late.

A dinner party

Being invited at someone’s home for a dinner party is one of the rare occasions where you should actually be late.

- French host : « It’s not ready ! » - Guests : « But we’re already 3 hours late… »

In fact, it would be rude to arrive early or right on time, as the host might still not be finished with cooking or dressing up !

A cocktail party

If you are attending a networking party, an afterwork party or any kind of large reception where people are free to come and go, a delay of twenty to thirty minutes is acceptable.

An appointment with doctors, beauticians, hearstylists…

If you want to keep your appointment, you should better arrive on time or even five minutes early. If you think you will be late, call ahead to make sure if it is fine – otherwise you will need to reschedule.

A gala event

Formal functions such as the annual gala dinner of your company or university generally begin with a cocktail hour before getting to the table for the meal.

You don’t want to arrive as soon as check-in begins, as you might be standing at the bar by yourself. It is fine to arrive thirty minutes after that, so that you still have enough time to greet important people before the meal starts.

A wedding

If you don’t want to start a war with your best friends or relatives, you should always arrive at least 15 minutes early to a wedding to pick your seat. This goes also for graduations and funerals. If you do find yourself later, discreetly choose a seat in the back.

A movie or a play

For evening performances, don’t be late. It’s disruptive to others, especially when you force people to stand up to let you reach your seat in the dark. Arrive early, find your seat, and get ready to enjoy the show.

It’s not always easy to be on time, but being punctual and aware of acceptable delay times is guaranteed to build up your reputation in the eyes of others !

Founded in 2018 by Matthieu Ventelon, Hedonia is the first institution in China combining professional Wine and Etiquette expertise in the same training offer.

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