“Sorry I’m late” probably won’t cut it.

You will be late to a meeting at one point or another. This is an unavoidable fact of life. Things come up that we cannot anticipate. Your response when you enter the room can go along way in how smoothly the rest of the meeting goes. Well you might be tempted to simply blurt out “sorry I’m late (fill in the blank excuse)” it’s important to realize that you’re apologizing for the wrong thing. The person or people that have been waiting for you may understand the circumstances of your lateness – but upon offering an excuse don’t assume that they are on exactly the same wavelength as you. Though saying I’m sorry and offering up a justification for being late is intended to show that you’re not an irresponsible person, those who have been waiting may respond better if you instead focus on what the impact of your lateness has been on them.

So instead of saying “sorry I’m late,” try these phrases to show everyone that you apologize for using up their valuable time, which in turn will make your apology more about them.

  • Sorry for keeping you waiting
  • I’m so sorry for taking up more of your time
  • Thank you for being so flexible