5 Ways Not To Rob People’s Time That Every Malaysian Should Know About
Time is one of the extremely valuable things in our lives that we can’t get back once we’ve given it to someone. Once we block out a timeslot to spend with someone, that time is gone forever.
“Time that we’ve given or committed to someone is something that we can never ever get back, a part of our lives that will be lost forever, so it better be worth it and not be wasted…”
People need to learn to understand that it is a huge privilege and honour for someone to agree to spend a part of their lives that they can’t ever get back with you, even if it is just for a 15 mins meeting.
That is why, I feel that it is extremely important for us to respect each other’s time, appreciate it and not waste any of it; because otherwise, we would be literally robbing someone of their life and precious time on earth.
1. SET A DATE AND CONFIRM FAST
If you’ve already decided or agreed to meet someone or go for an outing, then open up your schedule, find an available date, set it, block out that slot and confirm fast.
If you have too many free dates and do not know how to choose, then let the other person know all of them and let them choose.
If your available timeslots don’t match, then provide a list of available timeslots weeks or months ahead, or as far into the future as it takes until you find one that does, and confirm it.
Either that, or just cancel and try again next year or during your next “available period”.
“Don’t have a ‘tidak apa’ attitude, it is an inconsiderate act of selfishness”
Some of us tend to adopt a more casual or “tidak apa” attitude towards this because we are either not on a tight schedule, have nothing really important to do or simply only care about ourselves.
But bear in mind that the person we’re meeting or are going on an outing with might not. They might have a tight schedule, many important things to do and many slots that are urgently waiting to be filled and confirmed but can’t be filled yet because they are waiting on our confirmation and respect us enough to entertain our deely-daley-ness and inconsiderate indecisiveness.
So don’t leave it hanging.
“Communicate. Set a date & confirm fast.”
Even if the other person schedules other things first and is busy with their lives, having to think about confirming the date and time with you at the back of their minds is a huge waste of time and brainpower for them as well.
So decide. It’s either a yes or no. If yes, decide when and where fast.
2. SAY NO OR EXPLAIN UNAVAILABILITY QUICKLY
For a lot of Malaysians, we are often stuck in the “maybe” zone, and this very reply and state of mind (a state of indecisiveness) is what wastes a lot of time.
If we are feeling “maybe” about something, we should really just say no, and if you’re courteous, explain why. This is because mostly, the fact is that we simply don’t care enough to make something happen and make it a yes.
In that case, just say no and don’t waste anyone’s time.
“Decide whether it is a yes or no, either make it happen or not, don’t be an even bigger asshole by further wasting someone’s time…”
A lot of times, we are reluctant to say no because the reasons behind it makes us feel like an asshole.
The fact is, if it does, then we are an asshole and we should just admit it, because if we say maybe and waste other people’s time, we are just being even bigger assholes than we already are. So either don’t be an asshole and say yes and make it happen, or just admit it and say no and not waste someone’s time.
“Have the courtesy to explain why if you really want to but can’t”
If you really want to meet or make something happen but can’t due to various good reasons, then explain it immediately.
This way, at least you will both know and understand what is happening and can work something out together. Don’t leave others waiting or guessing and waste their time in doing so, because it is not a pleasant process and might cause misunderstandings as well.
So if it is a no, say so quickly. If you are courteous, then do explain why. If you really want to but can’t, explain the situation promptly and I am sure something can be worked out in no time.
3. DO NOT CANCEL OVER PETTY ISSUES
Of course, emergencies happen, and if something really urgent and important came up, it is perfectly fine to cancel and re-schedule.
But we would be horrible time-robbers if we cancelled over petty issues or because someone you wanted to meet more wanted to meet at the same time.
Well, this is a matter or priority and how much you respect each other’s time.
“Respect people’s time equally and try not to be selfish…”
Personally, I respect everyone’s time equally and am not a selfish person.
So I would never cancel or re-schedule if other friends or people I cared about more wanted to meet at the same time, because I respect everyone’s time equally and they would just have to wait. But of course, if I cared more about them, I would have naturally scheduled in more time with them on another date. However, I do make exceptions for urgent and special circumstances that I have no control over such as for someone who’s only in town for that particular weekened, has a flight to catch or if it is an urgent emergency. Having said that, I would still make it a point to explain why I really had to cancel and am very sorry about it and promise to make up for it, and really do make up for it as soon as possible.
In short, we would be robbing someone of their time if we cancel over petty issues because they would have already committed that timeslot to meeting you and would have rejected other opportunities or activities in your favour. Furthermore, it is also not always, and often not possible to schedule a replacement activity or meet in time because you cancelled, so that slot would’ve been wasted in some ways although they can spend time doing their own personal things.
So don’t cancel over petty issues, only do so if it is an urgent and important emergency.
“Make sure you make it up to someone if you do cancel, because you would have wasted their time in some way or another…”
Having said that, I also feel that if we do happen to have to cancel due to an urgent and important emergency, the onus should be on us to make up for it and initiate a replacement meet or outing to make up for it, because we would have wasted their time nevertheless and we should do something about it.
4. BE ON TIME
Given the unpredictable circumstances of Malaysian traffic conditions, parking problems and culture, perhaps it is impossible to expect on the dot precision like the Japanese do.
Having said that, we should still always try our best to be on time by aiming to arrive early to compensate for the many delays that might occur along the way.
In a Malaysian context, a margin of 10-15mins is still arguably acceptable, but if it is anywhere more than 30mins, then you would definitely be robbing someone of their time.
Personally, I also feel that if we are the one who initiated the meeting, or if we are in a position to most benefit from the meeting or outing, then the onus should be on us to put in the extra effort required to make sure that we are absolutely on time and not have the other person wait for us.
5. BE STRAIGHTFORWARD & INFORM EARLY
If we had a flat tire, got involved in an accident, will be late, or had something urgent come up and have no choice but to re-schedule, it would be our responsibility and also common courtesy and manners to be straightforward and honest in informing the people we are meeting of the situation as soon as possible so that they have time to make plans to make good use of their time due to the your cancellation or delay.
Even though some of us might not appreciate our own time, bear in mind that others do, and I am sure a lot of people would appreciate such gestures and manners from us, especially busy people who have many important things to do.
If you are one, I am sure you would understand.
If you are not one right now, perhaps you would become one someday, and you would finally grow to understand this.
Nevertheless, someone’s time is a part of their life that they can never ever get back once it is spent or being committed to you.
DON’T BE A TIME ROBBER
So don’t rob them of it, and in the same way don’t rob yourself of your own precious time on earth.
Do share this message around if you think it is worth sharing and would help save yourself and countless other people from getting their precious time robbed from them.
“All of us only have a limited amount of time on earth, so don’t rob others and ourselves of it…”