We’ve had several incidences so far this year – personal and professional – where people have arrived late or not at all for meetings and events. The latecomers bustle in, out of breath, some apologetic but others not at all fazed. The people who don’t come at all generally call or email later to apologise profusely and explain they had the wrong time in their calendar.

Sometimes mistakes happen. Dates do fall off calendars – we once stood a favourite hairdresser up twice because our calendar wasn’t syncing properly – and we don’t mind that. But we do mind the actions of the repeat offenders.

Emergencies, of course, such as standing someone up because you’ve gone into early labour and have been hospitalised, can’t be helped. But spilling coffee on yourself on the way out the door or being stuck in traffic aren’t emergencies. Missing a meeting with a potential supplier – without bothering to tell them – because your previous appointment went over time is unacceptable. So is cancelling a radio interview with five minutes’ notice.

Being on time shows you’re professional, reliable and trustworthy. As far as we can tell, those are three qualities most working people want to have. Better that than to be marked as rude, unreliable, disrespectful and selfish because you don’t value anyone else’s time enough to be prompt. Being late does not make you important or special.

It’s also not something you’re born with, or that you inherit. It’s a habit and can be broken; you just need to make the right choice. There are simple changes you can make such as giving yourself more time between appointments, or not arranging morning meetings if you’re at your best in the afternoons. Everyone in your life will thank you for it.