By: Maralee Mckee, Manners Mentor
This week the spotlight is on the best time to arrive at business and social events. Should you show up fifteen minutes early to the meeting across town? What about the morning staff meeting down the hall? If the event is social and not business, like dinner at a friend’s home, do the same guidelines apply? Should you knock on the front door ten minutes early and offer to help, or ten minutes late so you’re not in the way?
Here’s your quick list of six common situations and the most considerate times to arrive!
1. Out-of-office Meetings: Arrive at the reception desk no more than five minutes early. Right on time is best. Why not earlier? Because once you arrive, the person(s) you’ll be meeting with feel the need (and even the pressure) to stop what they are doing to pay attention to you. Being right on time shows two things: that you’re considerate of other people’s schedules and that you manage yours well.
2. Inter-office Meetings: Arriving five to ten minutes beforehand is best. This gives you time to find your place, offer to help with last-minute details, and greet coworkers. Arriving more than ten minutes early (unless you’re running the meeting) sends a signal that you don’t have much on your to-do list.
3. Meetings in Homes: For religious, social, and civic-group meetings, it’s best to arrive about five minutes early. This way, the host doesn’t feel the need to entertain you prior to the gathering, but you’re there early enough to say hello to fellow guests, help yourself to refreshments, and get settled in for the meeting to begin at the scheduled time.
4. Restaurants: Whether the meal is for business or pleasure, if you’re the host, arrive fifteen minutes beforehand so you can ensure your table will be ready and greet your guests if they get there early. If you’re the guest, showing up at the agreed-upon time is ideal!
5. Dates: Military precision is best! Never arrive early! If so, you’ll find her still debating about which pair of earrings to wear. Never arrive even a minute late! Sadly, she’ll begin doubting your enthusiasm for her! As my husband did before our first date, circle the block a few times and pull in the driveway precisely when promised! Trust me — she’ll notice!
6. Parties and Meals at Homes: Follow the “7-11 Rule.” Arriving between seven and eleven minutes after the time on the invitation allows the host or hostess to take care of all the last-minute details (lighting candles, setting out food and beverages, etc.) without interruption. If all the guests are considerate enough to arrive in the five-minute interval between “7 and 11” after, the hostess can greet everyone in a short amount of time and then enjoy her guests’ company without having to excuse herself to open the door every few minutes.
By the way, social customs about the best times to arrive vary greatly. What’s savvy in London is rude in Tokyo. When the party is just about over in the suburbs, it’s just getting started in the city. When traveling, ask a native what the norm is!