From Being on Time to Setting Priorities

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”Lateness, How to Handle”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

I’m a prompt person and I think I’m easy going. One thing I hate is when others around me are late. As much as I try to accept this, I get really uptight about it. Suggestions?


Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Prompt:

When people have expectations that everyone should live according to their standards, and if these expectations are not met, invariably the result is that the expectant person feels frustrated, disappointed, angry or upset and for the most part tends to reject the violator. No matter how decent that individual may be, the expectant person invariably finds fault with them because they did not met his/her expectations.

Of course in some respects I agree with you, namely that many people have varied, silly and unjustifiable reasons for being late — anywhere from a flat tire to a busy elevator, and somehow they never seem to adjust their schedule and time management habits to allow for these inconveniences. And yes that can pose a problem to someone with a busy schedule who has to contend with another’s lateness. However, my primary concern at this point would be about the anxiety that a person who expects promptness may have about this.

”Priorities, Why Am I Last?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

My husband and I often make dinner plans for after work, but he routinely schedules other things that interfere with our plans. By the time he comes home it’s too late for us to do anything together. He says these engagements are for work (he is an up-and-coming photographer). I want to support his career but I question his priorities. Should I be supportive or should I say something?

Low Priority

Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Priority:

Where people end up caught in a scenario such as you describe, I find myself wondering if there is any way that the person who is feeling excluded could get involved with their mate’s priority. Often times however, the excluded person’s schedule is so jammed that they are unable to be involved with what their mate is involved with — then there is obviously an involvement problem because both people are too busy to be with each other, given their respective schedules. Clearly, one person is going to have to give (i.e., change their schedule to be able to spend time with the other).

In my opinion, couples should foster and nurture each other’s priorities and commitments. However, another issue that can sometimes pose an obstacle is when one partner’s competitive nature rears a selfish head and that person begins to resent their mate’s choices. In such instances, brief intervention with a qualified counselor could be useful to lend insight into the problem.

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

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